Status and Work Anxiety: What is living the “good” life anyway?

I’m torn.

Here’s the deal.

I’m in the process of submitting work to a job I don’t know if I want. Because the position is remote, they have me doing multiple writing prompts to make sure I am going to work for what they need, which is an online content writer. I should mention that they are compensating me for the work I am doing, even though the writing is only sample work and will not be published. The problem is that forcing myself to complete each writing assignment is like pulling my nails out one by one… and I don’t know if this attitude will continue or if it is just that it’s the end of the semester and I’m burnt out.

Part of the problem is that I have applied for multiple remote positions, slowly realizing that decent paying ones are few and far between with a seemingly infinite pool of applicants. This scarcity of jobs makes me want the position I need to write for.

On the other hand, much of the writing I would be doing (if I got the permanent position) would be on a variety of topics, some of which I don’t have any interest in. What if this dread continues? One of the reasons the job is tempting is because there is the possibility of moving up to an editor position after writing for them for a while. That status, as editor, and the position’s requirements are tempting.

I am torn because the rational part of me says to buckle down and do the work. Who cares if I don’t like it? People do jobs they don’t enjoy all the time. Plus, I need health insurance. I need a paycheck. I need stability. There are worse things in life. Obviously.

The other side of me is either being reasonably rebellious or downright lazy. If I don’t want to continue with this job, is it because I am just lazy and therefore worthless? Or, does it mean that I value this life and my time and would rather have more time to think and engage in activities that are meaningful rather than wasting my time on something I don’t enjoy? Is life about enjoying what you do all the time?

A lot of these questions, particularly those dealing with the idea of “laziness,” have to do with status anxiety, or the concept that we must prove ourselves to others through our work, thereby establishing our value. Alain de Botton, a modern-day English philosopher, discusses it in his book by the same name, and while I am starting to better understand how this anxiety plays a direct role in my decisions, I am still uncertain as to how to move forward.

How do we decide how to move forward?

This trip is supposed to be about taking a break from productivity in the traditional sense in order to have time to reflect on what life is, what it requires, what is important, and what I want from it. I have always felt that I need to get a thousand things done every day, that I need to contribute to society by working 40 hours/week, watching TV when I get home from a job I hate, turning the TV off after feeling no better, and going to sleep in a house I pay a lot for but have little time to enjoy. This whole system seems wrong to me. And yet, am I playing into it by taking this job that I mentioned at first? Or am I just trying to rationalize being lazy and not wanting to do the work required of me (by myself)?

Hopefully some of these questions about which of my expectations are reasonable will be more clear by the end of this book, or at the very least, by the end of this trip.

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