Tag Archives: side hustle

Selling Myself

10 Aug

A tale about the failed American Dream, lies Millennials believed, and the cynicism that sets in in your thirties.

Three weeks ago I went to Disneyland. I love Disney, it makes me feel like magic still exists. I know the company has its problems, the parks cost too much, and everything in them is overpriced. Yet, there is nothing like walking down Main Street U.S.A, forced perspective in full effect, and seeing Sleeping Beauty’s castle off in the distance. That, my friends, is mesmerizing.

About a month before I went to Disneyland, my summer cash flow was questionable at best and I started to realize I couldn’t afford to go to the most magical place on Earth if I didn’t find a new revenue stream. I was processing this predicament with a few coworkers one day and one of them mentioned how they used to donate plasma in college. I was never very strung up for cash in college so I had never explored the venture, but I was aware of the concept. It took me a bit to work up to it, but eventually, I went in and got myself signed up. I’ve been going fairly regularly for almost two months now.

Before I started going and donating my plasma, I had a preconception that the people who frequented these places were drug addicts or homeless or working at McDonalds (the fact the I always pick McDonalds is also a bias I need to confront, but that is for another day). I have been privileged in my life and I understand that when I have these thoughts, they are not always true. I do believe, however, that we are only going to get over them by being honest and owning up to them. I have discovered that while there are people who are clearly struggling, there are also a lot of people who donate who are probably a lot like me. People who are in a tough spot because of a few poor financial choices, have a bit too much credit card debt, and have their student loan companies breathing down their necks.

At first, it was an uncomfortable experience for me. I felt judged and not just by the people around me in the clinic. I don’t feel that way too often when I go now. Maybe I grew numb to the inner voice or maybe it just became a familiar enough place that my anxiety decided to categorize it as normal. Either way, recently it has just felt like another chore. A job I go to for a couple hours at a time to make a bit of money.

It paid for my Disney trip and I kept going after to see if I could cut down my credit card balances. I did that math and if I keep going regularly, by the end of the year I will have made almost two thousand dollars in almost six months.

I don’t feel shame in this side hustle, but sometimes I do feel anger. Anger at a system that set me up with an idea of what my future would be that doesn’t match the reality. I don’t think I dreamed big. I never had hopes of owning a Maserati and a summer home in Paris. What I thought was attainable was much more conservative. A job that pays the bills with a little left over to grab drinks with friends a couple times a week. Enough set aside in my savings that I could take a vacation somewhere nice once or twice a year. I wanted stability.

Instead what I have is debt and anxiety dreams about paying back that debt. I can’t blame it all on the system. I made some decisions that had a negative impact on the stability I dreamed of. I take my share of the blame. There are things that were and are out of my control, however, and they make it hard to recover. I was young and dumb for a while, but I don’t feel like I was abnormally idiotic. I don’t know that the punishment for my crimes is a fair one, and that is where the anger comes from.

I am only 32 and, God willing, I have a lot of years left to make up for the mistakes I made, to learn the lessons that might get me to the promised land. For now, I will just keep selling pieces of myself and hope that I don’t sell the pieces that make me me.

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