Money at 30: “Part-Time for a Reason”
A couple of weeks ago, I had a chance to catch up with an old friend of mine I knew from my days in Los Angeles. Among the many topics we covered as we sat at an outdoor shopping center for the better part of three hours was her work. Detailing some of the struggles and frustrations she has with her employer in recent months, she said something that caught my ear: “I’m part-time for a reason.” She added, “And they don’t need to know what that reason is.” In other words, not only does her employer not own her time spent outside of the office but she also has no plans to break her back unnecessarily.
While it’s been quite a few years since I had a “normal” job, I identified with this sentiment right away. In fact, I previously wrote about what I view as being a similar sentiment, noting that my wife and I were content to maintain our current, balanced lifestyle, while saving for our future rather than “grind” now in order to retire early. So, upon hearing my friend’s words, I started to think more about what led both of us to come to this realization, what “part-time for a reason” really means, and how we’ve been able to make it possible.
Cost of living
I should note that, like us, my friend moved from Los Angeles to the middle of the country — in her case, ending up in Northwest Arkansas. Obviously, this means that we’re spending a lot less on things such as housing, gasoline, and more. Thus, we can afford more overall. Honestly, that’s a huge reason why we moved to Missouri in the first place and continues to feel like the secret to our success. Apparently, I’m not alone in that as my friend has followed a similar path. Of course, one key difference is that she is now a homeowner while we still rent. But, otherwise, the same page.
Another thing that occurred to me was how the lives my friend and I were living now were far different from how they were when we met. See, we got to know each other when we were both working as extras on television shows. Together, we’d endure long days while actually hoping they’d go even longer so that we could earn some much-needed cash (we were making minimum wage, after all, so overtime was where the real money was). To be clear, there was plenty of downtime during many of these days and there was a lot of unique fun to be had — but, every day you weren’t working was money you were effectively giving up. Perhaps because we both lived with this mentality for so long, now that we’re making steady money and can afford more than we could when we were out in the City of Angels, we’re less inclined to keep pushing.
It’s not laziness
Surely, some would look at this philosophy my friend and I seemed to have stumbled upon and assume it’s just laziness. However, I’d argue against that assumption. Instead, I’d say it has much more to do with prioritization and satisfaction than lack of effort. After all, we both work hard at what we do — but we also take our personal time seriously as well. To me, not only is there nothing wrong with that but, in actuality, that’s how it should be.
Finally, while I might not have to worry about imposing bosses these days, that’s something my friend does still have to deal with. While I won’t put her business in the streets, needless to say, there were some things she shared that are wrong at best and perhaps illegal at worst. That’s why she feels no need to extend herself beyond the part-time status she’s currently at. Honestly, hearing this just makes me more thankful to be in the position I’m in now and appreciate my ability to manage my own work-life balance. Yet, I can’t help but wonder how many other workers are having similar or even more objectionable issues — and we wonder why so many people are quitting their jobs?!
For more than a year, I’ve been trying to sum up my self-imposed lifestyle in only so many words. Leave it to my friend to essentially do it for me by accident: “part-time for a reason.” While it may not be my exact situation, I do think the tag expresses a lot about my work philosophy and how I imagine plenty of other workers across the country feel — be they self-employed, traditionally employed, or otherwise. With “the great resignation” continuing, could the league of “Part-Time for a Reason” see an increase in its ranks? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Also published on Medium.