I think that I have written about this before. I have very mixed feelings about the side hustle. Yesterday, I had a realisation that I have always worked on top of working full time on what I was supposed to be doing, since I started university. Part of this is the need for money, for sure. During university and even during my academic career, I have been in a situation where I (and then we) just needed (or wanted) more money. Maybe this was because of debt, or my partner not working (he has since managed to secure a job starting in January, horray for that!), as well as all those student loans, but a lot of it is also for consumption spending and status spending, to quell financial anxiety which ironically leads to more consumption spending. Just the other day, I was presented with another opportunity for a side hustle and I got to negotiate a salary for a side hustle that blew my mind (real money). I asked for (and received) a lot of extra money. It comes with a lot of additional work, so it’s definitely no free lunch, but I noticed that by accepting the offer, it immediately quelled my financial anxiety about not having enough. So, what is enough? And is it status or things that I am looking for?
To answer this question, I think you have to evaluate the parts of you that you are searching for and whether or not your spending illuminates that search and if it is satisfying or if its sourced in anxiety. It takes real skill to identify one versus the other and Im not so skillful at sorting thru this. There should be a Marie Kondo therapy course for the joy of future spending. She tells us what to do with stuff we have but not about stuff we want to buy. How can you know if something will spark joy before you have it in your hands? I used to search for things like the right jumper or the best trousers or the most impeccable way to dress your curves. I like the status (real or imagined) of expensive clothing mostly because I hope that it will hide the awkwardness I have with my body. Somehow if the clothes are fabulous my TRUE lack of style will be hidden. But I am also frugal enough to be willing to buy second hand and minimal enough to not get bored and wear things for decades (now whether I get too fat for my clothes is another matter but I’m actually trying to work against this criticism as I see its mostly a white-lady fear that I have adopted, and one that is not so self-loving, so it should be discarded and the larger sized clothes purchased, this is hard too given my real social value is my looks at least for another few moments until I fall out of the fertile stage). The irony is that I don’t wear makeup (and never have), so why my face can be bare for all the world to see and yet the awkwardness is presented in misfits with clothes, I am never sure why this is true.
Lately, not least of all because of lockdown but also my advancing mid-age and mid-section, I’m trying to reconnect with my rural homesteading background. If I am to be homesick, I will do whatever I can to live my best home life abroad. There is such a compulsion to buy things to support ones living our “best life.” I have such a compulsion to be a consumer. I was more or less trained to be a consumer. This doesn’t mean that my spending is out of control but it does mean that I am constantly in the search for things that will satisfy me. And when the package arrives it both does and does not satisfy me.
There are a number of things that I think (justify) are okay to buy: books, clothing, exercise services, music subscription. There are things that I want: investment furniture, a reading chair, a proper desk. There are hobbies: reading, quilting, writing, and gardening. These all require Accoutrements. This website requires membership renewal. Should I do it? And so they all press on the financial anxiety and the need to have a side hustle. Yesterday, I dragged out the quilting material, the clips, pins, rulers, and scissors, and continued to make something of imperfect beauty — my first quilt shown above. Same goes as I look out the window and put away the rose clippers and my new garden gloves. I sit down with a cup of tea and read one of a number of recently purchased books, and I love all of these things because they make up my interests and together, collectively, they represent choices about how to spend my time and most of all, how to enjoy the company of myself during lockdown. But I am also self aware enough to question the relationship between the side hustle (always working a second job) and the empty cardboard boxes that replace another set of cardboard boxes from the recycle two weeks prior. I’m not sure the side hustles are helping me swim or whether its part of the undertow preventing me from being calm.