when you never have enough

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I grew up in a home where we ALWAYS had enough. And more than enough. My dad had an amazing job which both allowed him lots of flexibility and garnered a more than ample income. We never lacked for clothes, shoes, food, a roof over our heads–or the optional things like gifts, vacations, tuition for tutorials, musical instruments. Despite all of this, I have grown up with a scarcity mentality, and it bothers me greatly. I mean, after all of that, I shouldn’t have a pervasive scarcity mentality. But I do.

Lately I have had some troubles at one of my jobs. The management and staffing are deplorable, we don’t have enough supplies, and several of my male coworkers have made sexually disparaging comments about and toward me. Additionally, I found out that we have several registered sex offenders in our facility, and one night I had my first experience (after a year in healthcare) with a coding patient. Needless to say, it has been stressful. I recently reentered the world of long-term care after taking a year long hiatus in which I nannied and worked in childcare. I’ve had my misgivings. As a result, I decided to apply at a home health care agency and see what happened. Which was a perfectly reasonable and logical move.

Except. I am currently working three regular jobs, and while none of them are full time I still end up with 45-50 hours a week on top of being a full time student. I’m on a full ride academic scholarship at my university, so I have only a few incidental expenses to cover since my scholarship covers room and board as well as books, fees and tuition. I don’t NEED three jobs to make ends meet. Some of my coworkers do, and I have the utmost admiration for them and the amazingly hard amount of work they do. But for me, I don’t need to do it, and it’s almost a little insane that I keep doing it. I didn’t need to apply for a new job, or if I did I needed to look at the very real decision to quit at least one of the jobs I currently have and focus more on one job.

I quickly got three call backs from the agencies I applied to. I went in for an interview at one, and they seemed likely to offer me the job. However, they weren’t open to working with my schedule because of school, and that was a no go. I had to withdraw my application, and I started freaking out because that likely meant they would never hire me. Reality was, it’s not in my field, it isn’t a job I will likely ever apply to again, they weren’t willing to work with my schedule, they didn’t pay great, I would have to drive and would not get gas compensation, and if I wanted to work in that field the demand is so high and supply so low that I would not have a problem getting a job with another agency down the road. But I was still freaking out.

After talking to a friend, I realized that I live my life like this. I stockpile food and snacks. I often have food go bad because I don’t eat it in time. I have enough soap and shampoo to last for the rest of my life, I think. At least several years. I collect books and paper, notebooks and pencils, pens, gloves from work, magazines and newspapers. I’m so afraid of not having enough that I always get more than I need.

I thought back to my childhood, and even though we always had enough, I remember my mom constantly holding the possibility of my dad losing his job over our heads. Then what would we do? she’d say. In reality, there wasn’t much of a chance of this, but we didn’t know better. We constantly heard stories of people not having enough to eat and how we should be grateful. My parents didn’t shy away from telling us stories of people who lost their homes or didn’t have food in the cupboards. They believed in exposing us to the more grisly side of life unnecessarily, for reasons I don’t know if I’ll ever quite understand (we also heard in depth accounts of torture and death of Christians for their faith, but that deserves its own post).

I grew up trying to reconcile the cognitive dissonance that comes from being told on one hand that if you work hard and are responsible, you will be ahead of every other non-Christian in the world who doesn’t (yeah, bs) and on the other worrying that your extremely hardworking father will lose his job at any moment. And that has left me with an insane fear that I can never work enough, never be busy enough, never be make enough money, to feel secure. I always feel like I could be/should be doing more.

Each day I am working to undo this dangerous and problematic mindset, although it’s been a hard road. I have to remind myself that people and mental health are more important than a padded bank account. I have to set aside time to take care of myself and tell myself that taking time out to read, walk, go out to eat or watch a movie (heaven forbid I spend money on myself) is not a crime or a sin. And for today, I think I need to quit a job.

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