Another Tale of Two Jobs
To complement Emma’s piece on how she balances work with Vim Vigor Dance and graphic design at Talos, I am writing today about my own experience working two jobs.
Until this point in my life, I’ve been either employed full-time or exclusively freelancing, but never balancing two part-time jobs. Frankly, I feel lucky to have two jobs, especially in an economy where many of my peers are still looking for simply one job—something/anything to pay down their student loans. Working part-time certainly has its benefits, but I also have found more challenges afoot than I had imagined.
If you haven’t read my previous blog posts, you’re probably wondering what it is I do. I’m the communications lead at Talos for 20 hours per week, and I tutor test prep for (mostly) English as second language students in Brooklyn. My work at the school is episodic; it comes and goes with school semester breaks and “test prep season.” At Talos, I have a fixed, regular schedule and an office with a coffee machine.
On one hand, I get the best of both worlds: I can both teach and work in a typical(ish) office setting. I love working with kids, but I also love a good office desk and a mix of solitary tasks and teamwork. If I were surrounded by 16 and 17 year olds all day, every day… I shudder at the thought. At Talos, I have adult colleagues that support and challenge me; at school, I have a herd of teenagers who tell me how fashionable I am and laugh at all my jokes.
There’s also something to be said for not putting all my eggs in one basket. As Talos enters its half-life, I’m not going to be without a paycheck in the foreseeable future despite my job ending in a couple months with the company’s operations. It’s a relief, and it took a lot of the anxiety out of my initial decision to join a startup. If we didn’t get funding, I wouldn’t be plunged into complete economic turmoil; instead, I’d start comfortably looking for the next opportunity.
On the other hand, balancing two jobs can siphon time and energy away from other pursuits in unexpected ways. I’m the overachieving type, always have been and always will be. I study up on whatever it is I’m working on and follow the latest policy trends like it’s a job requirement, though I often do so in my spare time. Do I need to read the Chronicle of Higher Education to tutor test prep? Certainly not, but I just can’t help myself.
Working in two different sectors, though, means doubling this extracurricular reading load. Meanwhile, I also write for myself, read literature, and study Italian. I try to go to museums, theater performances, and the like—I live in New York City, after all. Why live here if not to revel in all the city has to offer? But I love just being at home, sitting around with friends and talking. Keep in mind, too, that two jobs means two commutes, and that I sometimes wind up working ten or twelve days in a row because my jobs follow a different workday/off-day schedule. When I began work at Talos over the summer, my time all of a sudden seemed exceedingly short and irregularly available to me, and I ended up scaling back my tutoring schedule drastically to regain any semblance of personal sanity.
There are also dark clouds that loom ominously near the horizon: a foreboding sense that one day I'll have commit to just one. Do I want an office job or a classroom? I certainly won’t have both all my life. It’s a familiar paradox for me, particularly; I was the same way in college and double-majored in two totally unrelated fields. Will I always want to have my cake and eat it, too? Is it some textbook behavioral pattern that I'll repeat throughout my life? Is this just your average, garden-variety mid-twenty millennial anxiety?
In summary, I’ll say that I do wish to return to a full-time job in the future. But, I hold dearly the past year I spent working part-time and allowing myself to explore other passions. It can be difficult to find part-time work, especially if you’re an unmarried, childless woman—I mean, what would you possibly do with more time but raise a family?! :eye_roll: If you’re looking to escape the 9-to-5 life and do some soul-searching, a part-time job is a terrific option.
Work isn’t and shouldn’t be all or nothing, full-time or unemployed. I’ve found that there is fertile middle ground that can be worthwhile, restorative, and rewarding.