Many of us, who come from households that struggled financially or are First Generation are raised with the “keep grinding” mentality. The only way we will ever have anything in life, is by working hard for it. You work no matter what: horrible working conditions, sick, tired, low wage, you keep on working.
A few weeks ago I did something I would never have done before. Something that goes against what I’ve been taught as a First Generation American. Something that felt scary but oh sooooooo damn good at the same time. I walked away from a job. I walked away from additional income. Yes, I did. Do you know how hard that is for someone that was raised with the “be grateful for your job” or the “never complain, you’re lucky to have a job” that follows the “work hard no matter what” mentality? That’s the way many of us, who come from households that struggled financially or are First Generation, are raised. We are constantly told that the only way we will ever have anything in life, is by working hard for it. You must work more and better than the rest, because you represent everyone in your family; as if that wasn’t enough pressure, you also represent your community.
Do you get were I’m going with this? I have nothing against hard work, I work really-really hard and I commit myself wholeheartedly to getting the job done. It’s the “constant grind” mentality that I have an issue with.
Even if you are sick, you show up. We probably came from households that didn’t get sick pay, so that was always the incentive-go to work even if you are hacking up a lung and are about to pass out. Do you know how many times I’ve heard “…can you believe him? he didn’t want to work overtime? He’s so lazy!’ I mean, the person they were referring to was working full time, while going to school full time and couldn’t work extra that day because he had to make it to class. I wouldn’t really call that “lazy” but you saying no to making extra money is considered lazy and crazy.
Now back to me. In all honesty I didn’t straight out say “no”. Again…the ”you do not say no to work” ideology is ingrained in my brain. I’m slowly unlearning this, and this was the perfect exercise for me. I must admit that my first thought was “Yes, I can definitely make this happen. I’ll just have to wake up extra early.” Sure. I can do it.
Here’s a little more context, this was going to be a part-time gig for six weeks. The additional income would have me making a little over 12k a month. That’s the most I’ve ever made in my life-for now (your girl is going places). The issue was great, it aligned with my values, it was with a team I’ve worked with before. The owner of this firm happens to be someone I respect and whom I will forever be grateful for. I mean the debt is real with this person, even when I’m not working for her, she’s recommending me for other jobs. I’m a Taurus and you know how we are with Loyalty, I mean it’s our second nature-good or bad, it’s our thing.
I wanted to think about this opportunity a little more. I needed to think about it some more. Take in the entire landscape of my current day-to-day life. I currently have two clients, and there’s some days where I’m so exhausted that I’m okay with cereal for dinner because the little bit of energy I have left has to go towards making my son’s dinner and bath time. Could I really add another client to that mix?
During this time I was also feeling anxious because in-person learning was starting soon for my son. The Delta variant is looming it’s godawful head around my county. My son needs to go back to school, he has done 1.5 years of online learning, he needs to be around kids. I need him to be around kids. Because I need him to stop asking me for a baby brother. With this anxiety, new schedules and routines can I really add another project to an already heavy load?
Would I have the energy of trying to schedule meetings for an already booked month? The stress and anxiety of worrying about which client will get pissed if I need to reschedule or miss a meeting because I already had another meeting scheduled during that time slot. Did I really want to deal with that?
Am I really going to let this opportunity pass? What if this firm doesn’t reach out to me anymore because I wasn’t available this one time?
What about time with my kiddo? What about my health? Will I be able to keep my cardio routine in the mornings?
But, I want to save for my house…this will help me reach my goal faster. How can I say no to that?
These were the conversations that were going back and forth in my head. They needed an answer within 24 hours. I prayed on it. The next morning during my walk I realized I knew the answer all along.
I didn’t want the added stress. However, I also didn’t want to say no. I was in a bind.
I have to be transparent, I have to be honest and let them decide if I’m the fit for this position. I didn’t say no, I said the truth. I highlighted my interest in the project, along with working with the team. I also made sure to highlight the fact that I was already working with two other clients, that meetings have already been scheduled and cannot be rescheduled.
By being transparent and asking: Does this work for you? I put the ball in their court.
It didn’t. I understood and I went about my busy schedule.
No, I didn’t! Come on, you should know me by now. I allowed myself some time to feel this. I had mixed emotions, financially, had I done the right thing? As a parent, I knew I had. As I thought about my mental health, I realized I did. However, I said NO to something. I said no to a job! Like what?! We don’t do this, but I just did this and
I kind of felt good about it.
No, I felt AMAZING about it! I never realized how good it feels to put Me (me here means spirit, mental and emotional me) first. If I’m honest I’ve also never really had that option. I was always trying to build up my nest egg, with no number in sight just building it up-just in case. “Lack mentality” is real (we will discuss this in another post).
I realized that what I did was pretty darn badass. You might think that what I did was a cop-out, but I went with what felt comfortable to me. I was honest with them, knowing that there was a big possibility that they would say no. You might also say it’s part time, I’m a: give-200%-of-myself-to-get-the-job-done type of person. So, I might have ended up working more hours than I would have been paid for.
Deep down, I got the results I wanted.
Their No was a Yes to…less stress, more time with my son, more reading, and rest.
I just created a new muscle. A new muscle that will send the “let’s consider how this will affect us emotionally, spiritually, and mentally before we only focus on the financial benefits.” message to my brain.
I also just broke some generational “work until you can’t work” mindset by putting the holistic me first here. It’s fucked up, but our parents didn’t mean to do it. It’s what they knew how to do, hustle says “I love you” by providing.
I just created a memory for my son. I created a new hustle mindset for him to duplicate when he is able. From this one memory we will be able to create many more, because guess what? I won’t be too damn tired or stressed to play with my kid or take him out.
Hopefully by you reading these words, I’m giving you something new to consider as well.
“Don’t confuse having a career with having a life.”Hillary Clinton