Monday, September 8, 2008

Financial Instability Sucks

Recently someone chastised me for talking negatively about my financial situation. The person cited how good it is compared to that of other people. That got me to thinking about why I was carrying on so.

These are scary times for our economy. People keep losing good jobs, and never finding good ones again. Whole categories of work have gone from our shores forever. Age discrimination is real, and so is degree creep, both of which are helping to keep me and many other people out of employment. Not to mention other forms of bias. I have hit the wall on serious employment, like many people whose employers have been merged, shut down, and downsized (I’ve experienced all three). My employment resume is too old and too cold for a regular job. And my freelance work is too odd and unusual (romances? personal finance? comic books?) to be attractive to a conventional employer. Plus I live way out in the boondocks where there aren’t many good jobs anyway. In fact, I feel pretty darn sorry for myself. Sure, I can change where I live, and I can go back to school again, but these efforts are expensive and they might not be enough in today’s tough employment scene. I’ve been a freelancer for many years, but so far have never made big bucks at it. The fact that I make any money at all as a freelance writer puts me miles ahead of many other writers I know, but that is cold comfort when I’m feeling worried.

Still, ten years ago, my life really sucked. Bad things were happening, and I owed enormous amounts of money. It was a terrible time. But why am I so down in the mouth right now? All of those ills are over. Our income is higher. I only owe one credit card the price of paving the driveway, and that can be paid off at any time because we have savings. Everybody is healthy and happy. What’s the problem? Is having that one credit card bill enough to send me into a funk? Is that how fragile I feel?

And why do I feel fragile? Because I feel helpless.


If these were good times for employment, I could solve a real money problem or even an imaginary one by getting an additional job. But they aren’t good times, and with gas prices so high, the cost of the easily-come-by bad job in a discount store is too close to the net pay. So it won’t solve my problem whether my financial issue is real or imaginary. The next few years may prove that all my fears are for naught, but I don’t know that now, do I? And it makes me fretful and even whiny. And that’s how I feel based only on worrying. Imagine how bad people feel who have something concrete to worry about, such as high credit card bills, college loans, impossible mortgage payments, declining health, and more. No wonder these are negative times in our country. People are stressed and the result is a “the glass is half-empty” attitude. When actually, my glass is half-full, and probably yours is, too.

I don’t know the answer to turning my attitude around, but counting my blessings is certainly a start. If you’re feeling down and out, maybe you should do the same. Because the truth is, things could be worse. We might as well try to enjoy today.

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