This week’s Cultural Tidbits Monday post will be quite different. Instead of discussing world superstitions or travel through food, I’ll explore American work culture from my POV. I’ll tell you about how it led to illness, plus how I’ve been forced to learn how to RELAX in order to continue. It hasn’t been easy, but I could lose my ability to use my hands and forced to give up my digital nomad dream career altogether if I don’t step back…
Have you noticed a sudden halt of new posts on this travel blog? I’ll tell you why:
Seems like I have developed carpal tunnel and/or RSI.
The most difficult part of all this? I could barely hold my dinner fork and feed myself last week. I cried myself to sleep as I got tired of sobbing for hours. I have never experienced physical pain besides my depression (pre-travel and during my life after travel), so it’s been very tough for me. Tougher has been having to significantly decrease the amount of travel writing so I could have a little strength left to be able to work at my 40-hour-a-week management position. You know, the one that’s paying for all my debt…
The new American dream is a trap. And American work culture got me ill.
Hard work during your youth, while being able to relax after you retire are two strong values of American work culture. These values pushed me to get 2 bachelor degrees, hold 4 jobs while studying full-time, and get into debt in the name of education.
My many scholarships and grants were supposed to “cover most expenses,” dammit.
These values made me keep this full-time management job so I could pay off my debt faster and have a great credit score. Yet, because I still wanted to be working toward my dreams, I worked after work, even during all my lunch breaks, on my travel writing. Meaning? About 12-13 hrs of work daily. Why? Because I would do a big chunk of travel writing on weekends, too. These habits, which had no space for relaxation except for a few hours on Saturdays, led my body to crash and destroyed my hands…
And don’t forget I only get 10 days of paid leave a year.
That includes sick days and vacation days.
“Oh, but don’t worry, you’ll be able to relax after you retire! You’re such a hard worker María, keep it up!” they say. Well, my body forced me to tell them “F— jou, I’m relaxing now, too!” You see, the pain in my hands became so unbearable that unless I took little breaks during the day + stopped working altogether after 5:30pm, my hands would just stop functioning. I mentioned I couldn’t feed myself the other day, right? *sigh*
And so, with great pain in my heart, I’ve had to greatly scale back on travel writing (both blogging and my paid gigs) just so I can keep the job that pays my bills. That is my good “American work culture” paying for “my American dream” and the education that they inevitably include. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I would have just thrown myself to the world, started travel writing and translating and gone to school after I had the money to do so (you know, after saving $30k from working on a cruise ship).
But I digress.
What’s done is done. I am a prisoner of American work culture and the new American dream until I can pull myself out of debt. Then, when I have enough funds and time, I’ll be able to just do translating and travel writing full-time. To make my dreams finally come true. To not overwork myself and my body to the point of illness. And for now?
I’m still having a hard time learning how to relax.
Because of my RSI, I am forced to relax. Yet, I can’t stop thinking about work. I’m still struggling. This weekend I did see some glimpses of relaxation and, let me tell you, they were glorious. Still though…I wish I could afford going to the beach more often so I could relax even further. But no, I’m tied up paying all these student loans. I think it is quite ironic that American work culture always equals success, yet most of us are struggling, despite hard work and a decent education. But now I am mostly ranting, so I’ll stop…
I will work harder to relax. I must relax for better health. I must still find a bit of time to work for my dreams. I must still press on so someday I can truly be free.
I will win the war against American work culture, while still being a hard worker.
I will learn how to relax. I will succeed my way!