The Standards of Others

Last night I talked on the phone with my Mom. A short exchange has really stuck with me since then and has triggered some anxiety in me. Because I am currently on break from school, though I am still working on my internship hours roughly 25 hours per week, Mom assumed I might be working extra hours at my paying job. Typically, because of internship, I work my paying job 16 hours per week. True, especially because I currently do not have classes to worry about, I now have a fair amount of time where I am not working my paying job. For example, instead of leaving my internship site, where I work an 8 hour day, and going directly to my paying job, I go home, usually. I could technically, especially on a Friday, go to my paying job and work a 7 hour shift but really the thought exhausts me and overwhelms me, at times. I have flashbacks to when I worked at a dry cleaners and worked frequently 7:30am-7pm, 5-6 days a week. I remember how angry and unhappy and sick I made myself at that time. (God, I was so angry.) I remember how much more frequent my migraines were at that time. But still part of me now feels badly because I am so unwilling, even though I am perfectly capable, to put myself through that grueling work pace. I call myself lazy. I tell myself I am too used to having the privileges that come with having middle class parents. Because I am unwilling to push myself that hard, to make myself sick, I constantly, especially in January/ February and in July/August when school loan money is used up, run short of money. And that is why Mom feels she enables me, because I am perfectly capable of working an insane amount of hours and yet I don’t because I know how unhappy it would make me. Lazy, self-indulgent…I know how lucky I am, believe me, I do. I see it every day I am at my internship site and see those poor kids so full of potential and yet so laid low by the cards life has dealt them. Some of them are so smart and they have the world ahead of them…if only they were given a chance. Because of my life circumstances I am lucky enough or spoiled enough to consider what feels best for me physically and mentally. I keep reminding myself that Mom pushed herself for so long, for so many years, and look where it has gotten her. She now suffers from migraines 99% of the time and is a chronic smoker. Perhaps I am enabled. Perhaps I am lazy and spoiled. Perhaps I should be working more and worrying about school less.

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