Tales Of Middle Class Burnout
I want to preface everything I’m about to say with this: I know I’m lucky. I have a day job I like, a side job I like, and an artistic pursuit I am lucky enough to pursue with some level of financial gain. I have a healthy family I love, I’m relatively healthy and I have good health insurance for when I am not healthy. I have a good house with a low mortgage payment that we don’t owe very much on and two cars in reasonably good condition.
But I’m busting my ass too keep it all up and running and I’m very close to burnout.
The day job doesn’t pay anything close to what it should for what I do and I’m not alone in this. No one I work with makes close to what their worth. Most Americans are making garbage wages for what they do compared to how expensive everything else is. So after working all day at a computer, I spend my nights and weekends in front of a computer as well editing books for freelance clients. And it’s killing me. Literally.
I have another novel I need to write and another one I want to write, but we all know how little money there is to be made in that field so it’s very hard to look at the hard numbers and justify spending even more time at the computer – time that I’m not spending with my wife or my kids by the way – to write these things. And for what? A little artistic satisfaction? For the vanity of seeing my name on a book cover? For an excuse to go to book conferences I probably can’t afford but it’s the only way to justify a vacation with what I make?
And the worst part is I don’t see things changing any time soon. My day job income is pretty capped for my field so I’m limited to the 1-3% raises we may or may not get every year for an increase in income. I could probably get more freelance work, but I’m not cut out for the unreliable world of full time freelancing. That stress and that burnout was so much worse than what I’m feeling right now and I don’t ever want to experience that again. So that income is limited to what I can do in my spare time and I’m pretty much at the upper level of that right now.
This is all why I have a very hard time looking at any of the presidential candidates and seeing someone I can vote for who will really help. I didn’t get this way, society didn’t this way over night. There isn’t one politician to blame, or one party to blame, or even just politics to blame. There has been a slow and steady erosion of everything great about this country for more than 50 years. What chance to my kids stand for a better life? Their education is already worse than mine was at their age. They’re growing up in a world that refuses to let them just be kids. At every turn they’re being forced to grow up too fast, to do things they’re not ready for, and to conform to the reality of a society that just wants them to be cannon fodder for whatever new economic bullshit scheme the billionaire oligarchs who really run our country come up with.
I’m an optimistic person by nature, but lately that seems like a luxury I can’t afford. I’m calling bullshit.