Passing another year of sobriety- five years in March– let’s consider how the Gig Life has both reassured and risked that progress. The biggest aid is that I’m almost legally prevented from getting too invested in any gig; I’d have to bill for that time. The biggest ailment is the grit that comes from jumping into projects in the yellow or red. Contractors are never needed when big projects or workloads are in the green.
All of my gigs have been easy in some areas and hard in others.
I took this photo during my most physically demanding gig. This was months before I started rowing again, when I was in my poorest health, and sick for weeks. This was also one of my more mentally rewarding gigs. This was my second project I saved without anything going into the red, I had a solid place on the team, and the work felt comfortable. I still ended up taking a three-month leave to focus on my health.
I’ve found that there are always career compromises.
Some harder gigs might have a short commute. Others might have corporate perks and have terrible parking situations. It’s like yahtzee or poker. How much effort or time do you want to gamble for that perfect job? Maybe that’s why most people settle into misery? I’m still trying to figure that one out. Even after writing “Preventing Boiling Points,” I still see it all the time in others and myself: you don’t realize the shit you’re in until you’re covered in it and can’t escape.
I’ve been getting quicker at identifying stress over the years.
I was told recently “you don’t seem anxious.” That’s because I’m panicking under the surface. I can present myself as calm more often, or at least, catch myself from exploding into anger or anxiety faster. A conversation over alcohol years ago that might have caused me distress is now a topic of disinterest. Same for any gig I’ve worked in recent years. I perform work I can do to the best of my ability then continue living my life.
This website has been helpful for keeping my priorities in order.
If I fall behind in my writing, or don’t feel like writing, then something’s probably wrong. Last week, I was stressed out last week without even realizing it. I depleted my backlog to near exhaustion. That may seem trivial, yet it paralleled my own wellbeing. By the end of the week, my patience was depleted, I thought of escapes, and then my health degraded to the point where my normally fast reaction times were dulled.
Working all these gigs has reminded me to live my life.
Sometimes after putting in a good day’s work, I’m exhausted past the point of wanting to do anything. Writing is cathartic for me, so I schedule time each morning and evening to write, and I find idle seconds during the day to brainstorm.
That abstinence from career overworking helps keep my life in balance.