Disconnected

I want to emphasize I am not perfect, I never claimed to be, and I know I never will be.

However, I find the older I get and the more I learn about my family, the more disconnected I feel from them. This is especially true of my father. It amazes me how I had the best relationship with him as a kid, but as an adult, it’s the polar opposite. I suppose that’s the curse of losing one’s innocence.

The biggest barrier is my attempts to learn financial responsibility. It really astounds me no one – absolutely no one – in my (immediate) family has any clue about finances, and at this point, it’s now a case of being unable to teach an old dog new tricks. My biggest mistakes – attending college when I wasn’t ready and financing my first car with a co-signer – came out of pressure, but the upside is those mistakes made it abundantly clear my family, no matter how much I love them, are not the people to go to for life advice. Regarding cars particularly, knowing about them does not correlate with having any financial sense.

For the record, I am aware financing a car can be a good decision. However, my father makes barely more money than me (I bring in roughly $2K a month), but his car payment plus insurance nearly equals my household’s rent. And in all the years he had to save money with his late girlfriend paying most of their household expenses (including rent), he never did. Simultaneously, my dad complains constantly he hates living with his dad. Find the problem.

I taught myself planning, budgeting, and saving, and as of late, I’m learning about investing, which a good friend got me started on. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. But I reached the point I’m able to plan out a month’s worth of expenses, and move them around as needed. Though I have a bad habit of frivolous spending I’m trying to kick, I stick to my budget, including savings, and I don’t sacrifice bills for pleasure. The bit of money I spend frivolously is the remainder after all my week’s expenses are paid.

It’s indeed strange to be berated for trying to be responsible, and I feel the more I try to pull myself together and recover from my mistakes, the more distant I grow from my family. It’s truly not something I like, but have no clue how to fix. How do you re-connect with people you can’t talk to, you can’t look up to, you can’t trust with advice? I don’t mean my personal goals. I can’t talk to them about the future, about finance, about feelings, about anything. How do I re-connect without feeling like I’m making myself small?

If you know, please teach me.

Goodbye, Mi Amiga

Yesterday, my favorite manager – and my friend – told me this would be her final week.

I knew she would quit eventually because she previously mentioned her intentions to return to school. But to my surprise, that’s not why she’s quitting. Her reason is one that surprised me.

She’s tired of the store manager.

The surprise isn’t so much the reason itself as it is being the one she’s leaving. She is genuinely one of the kindest and most cheerful souls I’ve met in my life, and she’s the last person to complain about anything. Even when she does complain, she smiles through it, like she’s trying to brush it off. I knew of her frustrations, but I didn’t know she felt that badly.

I admitted to her I considered returning to being part-time for the seasonal period and she vehemently advised me to remain on-call and ask periodically if I need more work. She worked at this store for four years – since the day it opened – and it was her first job while the manager that eventually pushed her over the edge has been there for less than a year. Were there ever a clear example for the expression of people quitting bosses instead of jobs, this would be it.

I wished her well in life, and I know wherever her next job is, she will be excellent, and hopefully, with better management. While I am sad about her leaving, she unintentionally taught me a lesson in telling me so: never waste your time.

Most people cannot quit without a back-up plan, including myself, and after my experiences this past summer, I’ve been working three jobs out of fear of being fired. However, one has been nothing but trouble since the start due to payroll (they still haven’t paid me for the first day I worked, despite I brought it to their attention no less than four times and was told the problem was fixed, and it’s possible they no longer have the record of the day), lack of breaks during shifts as long as nearly twelve hours, smoking, and ultimately being stranded due to the travel required. I’m not the only one with those struggles at the job. The long-term employees have also expressed them.

The other job is my retail job, which I’ve wanted to quit for over a year due to the store essentially being a sinking ship and paying the least of any job I’ve had, but kept because I have history there, they’ve never screwed up my paycheck, and I genuinely love my co-workers.

The problem is juggling three jobs makes it hard to commit to the one I care about most. However, I’ve been at that job for only 39 days, which is not long enough to fully commit to it and quit the other jobs. While I have no reason to believe I’ll be fired, I thought the same with the two jobs I had in June, and that obviously turned out poorly (one involved a manager attempting to intimidate me due to being nearly twice my size and required getting a police officer involved to retrieve my stuff; the other dismissed me for not being social enough and worrying more about learning the job properly; my school faulted me for both, and I’ve since disassociated with them as a result). I’m too afraid to risk having a false of security again, and want to stick with the newer jobs for at least a year. But I also do not want to waste my time like my friend feels she wasted hers (“four years down the drain”), nor do I want to burn the history I have with my retail job. Even she advised me to always have a back-up plan.

Granted, the job I want to commit to is nothing like the jobs I was fired from, namely in that you get fired if you don’t do your job and you don’t spend the majority of your shift (think seven out of nine hours) doing literally nothing while being expected to pretend you have work to do. However, I feel that’s not sufficient reason to believe I’m safe. For all I know, they could decide they dislike how I style my hair and fire me for that (yes, people do get fired solely because a boss dislikes a trait or feature about them; US laws do not protect against that if it isn’t a protected class and most states are at-will, so employees can be fired at any time for any reason that isn’t illegal in written law; it’s one of the reasons I never want to join management, no matter how long I work somewhere, as that’s a level of coldness that’d keep me awake at night).

I don’t know where my friend will go. I don’t know where I will go. But wherever we do go, I hope there’s a bright future for both of us in the places we want to be in our lives.

“People leave managers, not companies” – Marcus Buckingham

Aiming For The New Year

This post was inspired by a blogger/writer I follow. I was going to skip over it, but I figured it can’t hurt. Can always try, right?

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions years ago because I never followed them. In fact, I only ever made them for school assignments and I usually faked them because I had none in mind. I’m the same way with goals. I rarely reach them, though I have some better luck with goals than with New Year’s resolutions. I used to have a “to-do list” page, which I got rid of because I eventually stopped caring about most of what was on there.

The above said, I would be lying if I claimed to have no goals for this year. However, the big goals are luck-based and dependent on whether I graduate school and find a job in the field I’ve been studying. I feel it’s pointless to bother writing them out since, based on my life’s history so far, the most basic goals get deterred somehow. To name some: I graduated high school a year late (forced to transfer), didn’t return to college until age 24 (had to wait until I could claim independence for FAFSA), didn’t get my first job until 22 when I wanted one at 16 (family did not allow me to work during high school), and more I just don’t want to remember right now. Point is life has never gone as planned for me (if it had, I would’ve grown up in my hometown instead of moving more than literally a dozen times), so I have no reason to trust it will now.

Heck, the new year itself didn’t start off well. I mistakenly broke my phone yesterday, the first day of the new year, and today, my train to school was cancelled, meaning I had to pay $19 to take a Lyft ride to be on time. If that’s my start to the new year, should I bother with goals under the assumption anything will go as planned? Truthfully, I’m likely an idiot if I think so. Actually, I’m an idiot even if I don’t. And I don’t.

The writer of the post I linked talks about his goals specifically for 2019 rather than goals that can span over more than one year. So, I’ll go with that. That’s the idea with most of my goals anyway. I don’t have much confidence I’ll keep them, but I’ve always found writing what’s on my mind to be cathartic. Plus, maybe with my work hours cut down, things will be somewhat easier.

  • Make this blog more active. In my defenses, the reason this blog is slow is I struggle to think of topics to write. A “slice of life” blog is a very open subject, but “wake up, go to school, go to work, study, sleep, repeat” isn’t an interesting topic for repetition. I used to make up for this by having days dedicated to certain ideas, but I lost track and eventually stopped bothering to keep up with them. I’m happy this blog is still alive, and I’d rather have slow years than nothing at all, but I’d still prefer an active blog. I don’t have a schedule worked out yet, but I’ll see what comes to mind later on.
  • Climb my way out of credit debt. Half of this is school costs and the other half is my fault. Retail therapy is real! The stress over the holiday retail craze resulted in me developing a shopping addiction. I can do this without getting a job in the field I’m studying, but that’ll make it much easier.
  • Get my driver’s license. For those wondering why I’m almost 25 and don’t have my license, I never cared because neither my family nor I could ever afford a car. Taking public transportation doesn’t bother me (when it works! Screw you, NJ Transit!) because it’s how I grew up, so I’m accustomed to it. But when your home, your school, and your job are in three different cities, it adds up quickly. Granted, the costs are probably ultimately still cheaper than a car, but at least I won’t have to count on someone else’s car if I’m running late (thank you, Lyft!).
  • Keep up with medical appointments. Oh, boy! Well, I started with this one last year, but only with the dentist and optician. I need to visit the regular doctor and I need to go to Planned Parenthood. Especially PP since my relationship with my boyfriend is only progressing further. Right now, however, I just want my teeth fixed!
  • Cool my temper. Like mother, like daughter. My temper needs to go on ice! I’ve been working on this one for a few years, but 2018 pushed me to the limit and undid my work. Granted, the things I explode over are usually justified (the worst was a case of unfair/unkind treatment by one of my bosses, though we made up over that because this friend got us together to talk about it), but exploding is tiring! My head hurts! That said, watching someone else drop F-bombs is hilarious.

I have more than that, but for 2019, I’m going to stop here. I won’t post the rest because those are the luck-based ones, and it’s possible they won’t be accomplished within 2019. If they’re not luck-based, they’re ones I’m almost guaranteed to eventually lose interest in, so I won’t bother writing them.

I can’t say I’m optimistic, but let’s see what, if anything, worthwhile happens this year.

So Simple, Yet Amazed

I amaze myself. It’s ridiculous, but I do.

I’ve managed to hold down my job. I’ve kept a steady relationship. I’ve traveled outside of the state alone. Most recently, I’m stunned at myself because I resisted using any of my credit (except for an urgent Lyft ride to work, which ended up being free) until I paid off the balance. The payment was already scheduled on my payday and tomorrow, it’ll be fully processed and my balance will be $0.00.

The reason I feel so surprised at myself for these things is they weren’t things I imagined I could do, especially restraining myself from spending. I would say to myself as long as I could get the money back and my account wasn’t at zero, spending it didn’t matter. However, that’s not a good way to think. I almost had myself in over my head with the debts I acquired from overspending. Now, I only have one small debt left to pay. On top of that, there are things I really need to spend money on, like health checkups, which I’ve put off because I despise visiting the doctor. Especially the ones that have to touch my face or lower half. Don’t touch me!

To raise my credit score, I sent for a credit card I was approved for. I don’t know when it will arrive, but it shipped earlier this week. I’ve been advised it’s best keep your credit card use under 15 to 20 percent, though I’m going with 15% to be on the safe side. The card’s limit is $200, so I have only $30 to spend every month if I truly want to keep to that limit. I don’t want the credit card to begin with, but keeping to a $30 spending limit seems impossible for me. Yet, I kept to a zero spending limit with the credit I already have through another until I could pay off the balance. If I can do that, I know I can keep my spending on that credit card under $30. Although, I must admit I feel silly about being excited I can pay bills, but that’s a different subject on its own.

Now, there’s something else I’m hoping I can amaze myself with: sticking to a self-made promise. I’ve been frustrated with myself lately because I’m very scarce when it comes to making artwork, even after purchasing a tablet for solely that purpose back in April. It’s not without reason. I’m often tired and art is not the only hobby I have. A life of only work, sleep, eat, and art in a repeating cycle would be very boring and miserable in my opinion. Plus, it’s possible I may have even less free time than I already do if a certain event happens at my job. But I really do want to create more art. I follow some artists on DeviantArt who seem to pump out artwork like a machine. While I doubt I’ll ever be in that position, I would like to produce finished artwork more than two or three times a year.

I’ve decided to make a list of things I plan to buy over the next months and, related to art, I’ve decided to try to draw at least once a week. I would say every day, but I would be forcing myself on days where I’m exhausted, feeling unwell, or am stressed out, and that’ll only push me to want to throw my tablet out of my window. Even some expert artists (well, as expert as you can be on a site like DeivantArt) agree practicing every day isn’t a good idea unless you want to because it turns art into a chore and that’s exactly why I do so little of it in the first place. I know scrapping ideas is normal, but I have way too many scrapped ones. I want to finish what I start. I feel this’ll soon be a broken resolve, especially if that aforementioned event occurs, but I will try. If I can stick to a resolve not to spend, I can hopefully stick to a resolve to create.

I wonder if it’s really a good sign I feel this way about myself. Is being amazed I’m capable of simple things like restraining from spending too much a sign of my self-esteem growing, or a sign of growing an ego and thinking I deserve something for doing what I should be doing? It feels more like the latter. I don’t think I deserve anything, but feeling proud of myself undeniably feels good. I have no idea where the balance is.

Which Priority Is Which?

I mentioned briefly in my last post I was hoping to move out by my 24th birthday next year. But lately, I’ve been considering postponing that even further.

At 23, I do not have my driver’s license. I’ve wanted it since I turned 18, but I never tried to get it because I didn’t see any point since I’d have no car to drive, and eventually, I forgot about it entirely. Lately, however, it’s been on my mind again due to my job. More specifically, because I’m gaining a growing hatred for public transportation.

The problem here is for the time being, it has to be one or the other: the apartment or the car. I feel like the answer should be obvious, yet I’m having trouble deciding which to make the priority. Both would bring me freedom I crave, but I cannot decide which advantages are worth more.

Advantages of having my own (or willingly shared) apartment:

  • My own living space
  • Living alone, or with my best friend or boyfriend
  • No smoking, drunkenness, and loud noise
  • No one touching my things without my permission (I’m fortunate my boyfriend and my best friend have manners!)
  • Not having to hear gossip or petty complaining
  • Being able to bring my boyfriend to my house almost any time (or my best friend if my boyfriend is my roommate; she’s asthmatic, so I can’t let her come to my family’s apartment)

Advantages of having a car for myself:

  • Not needing to rely on public transportation (except when I travel to visit my boyfriend)
  • More choice in where I can work
  • Less restriction on where I can travel in general
  • Shopping is easier since I don’t need to lug bags on a bus or train (even a bunch of small bags can be a nuisance)
  • More places to go with my best friend and boyfriend (these two awesome people get all the free rides they want!)
  • A small place to go when my family inside wears on my nerves. It’s illegal to live in a car, but not to sit and unwind in it for a while.
  • Aside from an auto accident or something else unforeseen, I’d never have to worry about being late for work because the bus or train is running late (and trains frequently have delays!). I use Lyft’s service in these cases, but their prices fluctuate, so it can get costly.

I’m aware having a car is more than just making monthly payments because there are expenses like repairs and maintenance. Likewise, I realize living by myself or with a roommate in an apartment is more than just the rent, as there are also utilities to pay for. In the case of the car, I still have to get my driver’s license to begin with. Plus, I’m assuming I’ll even be able to find someone to lease an apartment or a car to me (my credit history is nearly non-existent). I fully expect I’ll panic for a period of time and feel like I’m in over my head. But that happens to me with almost everything, so I’m willing to experience that and let it pass.

I’m not sure if I should be deciding which advantages are worth more, or which disadvantages are worth less. I also worry whichever I choose, I’ll regret not taking the other one, but I can’t change my mind on a whim about such a big choice (not without heavy consequences anyway).

I don’t know if this is a sign I’m still trying to fit myself into adulthood, and failing miserably at it, or I’m indecisive and nothing more.