I guess I've done a giant turnaround this summer--from looking at getting a second job, to reassessing my life, time and money and realizing that I don't want--and more importantedly don't need--the job I have. I write this cautiously, particularly considering Notorious phD's recent post about the necessity of second jobs for academics; I am in a position that does not require me to have a job outside of academia. I am very aware of my good fortune, and in order to not sound like a total pansy, I can only add that my good fortune comes with a price:
1.) government restitution for my dad's Vietnam-induced [mental] illness (thank you, Uncle Sam)
2.) working full-time to maintain a marriage--but he's really good looking, so he makes the job easy;)
I want to have the chip on my shoulder, knowing that I worked my way through grad school and maintained my GPA despite having outside employment (which is a no-no at my institution). But am I working because I have to? No, I'm working for the inward satisfaction of working, the feel of being in control. Each week, outside of all the crazy stress of juggling my own classwork and that of my students, I would enter this haven at the office, because there things weren't so theoretical--let's face it, they weren't so challenging (though I have often accused insurance reps of being theoretical: "In theory your insurance covers this...").
Work provided an easy sense of accomplishment that was comforting, especially while I was in the midst of three (if not four, five...) ongoing projects at school. What's even better is that when it came to dictating letters, my "expertise" was always deferred to (by doctors, even:) thus stroking my ego. But the bottom line is, when it came to the paycheck, there was little to be done with it. It did little more than pad my daily trips to the Student Union or local crap-dash Irish pub to drink beer with friends. I tend to work just to work, something I always held against my mother, textbook workaholic.
I have been an employee, at one company or another, since I was 14, when I replaced my sister (who had to quit as she went into labor with her first child) as a cleaning lady for local businesses. I was the only sophomore who didn't have to get my lunch money from my parents and when it came to the "extra-curricular activities" of a deviant high schooler, lets just say I was able to fund myself.
I enjoy working, and I am aware that I work for the sake of working.
I have the rest of my life to work.