Dear Papa Bear,
I have read your column a few times and feel like you give sound advice, and that is one thing I have been needing for some time now. A few months back I ended a one and a half year relationship with my mate. I made a promise to myself that I would take a break from dating as I had been for the last 5 years going from one relationship to another with very little time in between. I chose instead to take this time to work on myself. I would work hard through the summer, paying off debt collectors and saving some money up for the future. Then in the fall head back to full time and concentrate fully on my studies. So far everything is going to how it was planned.
Now here is my issue(s). I am working one full time and one part time job so that I can pay for everything (bills/debt/rent/etc.) I’m working on average 70+ hours a week. It’s not hard work but it takes away from time I could be doing other things like hanging out with my friends. I also no longer have one single day during the week where I am not working one or both jobs. It’s begun to wear on me. I have been wishing for this summer to be over recently, just so I can pull back. But I just cannot quit one of the jobs. I need to be making how much I make to cover everything and be a little less weighed down by debt by the end of summer. I have also gotten used to the income and enjoy having extra money to use on nonessentials. And if I were to quit one job I would be back on a tight budget and worrying whether getting a half tank of gas means my account will get overdrawn.
On the other side of things. With working all the time I do not have much time for anything else, or rather I feel like that. What time I do have to myself each day I feel I have to fill with productivity and if I don’t get a certain number of things done before I have to head off to work I stress out. Feeling like I wasted all my time when I could have been doing some chore and gone somewhere that I needed to go to before work. Alongside this I also rarely get to hangout with my housemates or friends. Most of my socializing is through texts I sneak in while I am working or on breaks. Digital conversation works but its no replacement for physically hanging with others.
Finally, being single has become something I rather not be. I miss having someone to be intimate with and share that rare closeness with. I have been trying to fill this void with close friends and such, but its getting to a point where just being around friends that are dating for any length of time gets me down. I end up walking away severely depressed and hurting for no rational reason. I feel wounded by the smallest things, like plans not going through with a close friend because their mate has a headache.
All of this combined has made me feel worthless and hollow and half dead, and I am running out of motivation to try anything that might change this. I have thought about going to a doctor for medical treatment but I cant bring myself to taking the time or money to get professional help as it would divert from my goals. I am at a loss as to what to do, and I am unable to analyze or rationalize my feels while being emotionally overwhelmed. Is there any advice or words you can give to help? Some sort of guidance?
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You are a very responsible furry! It is pretty rare I hear from a furry who says he/she is working 70+ hours a week and paying off debt. Papabear is really proud of you for trying to do the right thing.
Unless you have some specific medical issue you are not telling me about, I do not think you need to see a doctor. What you are suffering from is stress. Overwork can make you feel restless, anxious, and give you bad mood swings, which sounds like what is happening to you. There are some things you can do about that, namely getting enough sleep (8 hours a night), eating a healthy diet, and trying to get a little exercise in, which is a great stress reliever.
There are a couple of other things you can do to help yourself. One is to set up a goals sheet. From what you’ve written, your current work schedule is in place only temporarily until you have paid down some debt. One thing Papabear has learned in life is that you can endure almost anything as long as you know for sure that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that things won’t always be this way. It sounded like this was something that would only last until summer was over. It can be helpful, psychologically, then, to write down a goal sheet and post it on your refrigerator, including dates for each goal and a description of each goal. Maybe a column indicating what your financial goal is (e.g., “have credit card paid off by September 28).
You can also set up a daily schedule. In this schedule, you naturally fill in your work hours. But also fill in hours for you to eat, sleep, get exercise, and do a little socializing. If you sleep 8 hours a day, work 10 hours a day, that leaves you 6 hours a day. Say about an hour for your daily necessities (bathroom time, eating and such), so now you have 5 hours. Allocate 30 minutes for exercise and one hour for doing chores, errands. Now you have 3.5 hours, ample time to do a little socializing. (Oh, almost forgot, travel to and from work--hope you don't live too far from work! So, let's give you 2 free hours a day). You don’t have to socialize every day, but 2 or 3 times a week would be good. You should have time to see a movie or go to dinner with friends.
As for your love life, well, you put that on hold yourself, which, in Papabear’s opinion, is not a bad idea for your short term goals. Love is not something you schedule; it is something that happens. Leave yourself open to the possibility of running into someone special in your life; don’t block someone out just because they are not on your schedule. And don’t be envious of your friends who have dates. Be happy for them. Your time will come as long as you do as I suggest and leave your heart open to possibilities.
Once you get yourself a bit more organized, you will find yourself getting less stressed because you will feel that each day you will accomplish goals and move closer to financial stability.
Big Bear Hugs,
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