Before I quit my job, I was working between 20 and 30 hours a week. That averaged out to about three or four days a week of five-hour shifts, along with a couple of six or seven-hour shifts on the weekends. It wasn’t so bad at first. I was making money, and I had more money saved than I’d ever had before. It made me feel better about the imminence of college and student loans. I felt productive; I was earning money and preparing for the future.
Gradually, however, that sense of accomplishment began to disappear. My parents and sister would leave to visit family. They’d go boating. They’d go to Adventureland together. “You’re always welcome to come!” they’d tell me, but unless I knew two or three weeks in advance, I could never come.
Often, I’d get home from work at ten or eleven, after everyone was asleep and the lights were off. I’d microwave some leftovers and sit at the kitchen table alone to eat them. After I finished, I would sleep for six or seven hours before waking up for school, and the cycle would repeat. I stopped doing the things I loved; I never had time. Every spare moment was devoted to studying or homework, and every day off all I wanted to do was sleep. My meals were irregular; my sleep schedule erratic. “You don’t have to work so much,” my mom would tell me, but I was determined not to quit. All that mattered was showing up to work and keeping my grades up.
Not everyone is as privileged as me. Many kids my age have no choice but to work long hours in addition to attending school. However, I eventually realised that I did have a choice.
High School, and life for that matter is what you make of it. Saving is important. Working is important, but I have the rest of my life to work. Perhaps I can delay the inevitable and depressing reality of working constantly for a few years. Until then, I’ll enjoy my last two years of mooching off of my parents.