It’s no surprise for a person to have at least some stress in their life. It’s like a common law of the universe, actually. Stress is what can push us forward. What can make us make a hard decision for the best or worst.
But when stress gets too much, there’s a chance it could not just push you to make terrible decisions, but break you down completely with indecision. And this is where I fall right now in my life – so it seems.
You see, just a little less than a year ago, I was in an overnight job with no way out. I couldn’t transfer to a different daytime department or to another store. My own store wouldn’t let me. Anytime I asked, the ones in charge of transferring associates would usually drag their feet on the matter. To top it off, managers and co-managers would change every few months, leaving associates like me to deal with all the slack. Yes, there would be great managers. And definitely yes, there would be terrible managers. They might be great people on their own; but in a manager (or any leader) position, they sucked. And not in the sexy vampire way, either.
Because of this stress of terrible bosses, not sleeping properly, and the ever-so-present financial problems in my life, I decided to leave. Right before Thanksgiving. Apparently, I was going to get fired for attendance anyway – I wasn’t one of the suck-ups who could get a few points knocked off for just being buddy-buddy with the right manager.
And I was free. For a few days, I didn’t have a job. I was applying to all the places I could think of. But I didn’t feel stress. I felt fine. Even though I had bills to pay and loans to think about, I wasn’t worried. I knew God had me. He’d provide. And He did. I got a job within less than a week of quitting the old one. (Pretty awesome, right?)
This new job was only part-time, though. So I had to figure out another way of paying back my debt, which seemed to always loom somewhere nearby. So once the new year began, I started substituting as well. I really love children, but something seemed to curl up in my stomach and weigh me down at the matter. I was afraid of substituting. It wasn’t something I was used to. It wasn’t something I was comfortable with. And stress about failing crept in.
But as the semester went on, and my savings dwindled, I knew I needed to do something to keep my head above water. I decided to do what Peter did and look to Jesus to save me from drowning. Again. (And He loves to do so, by the way.) I bucked up and substituted as much as I could in April and May. I got above water just in time to save up enough for summer, where I would only have my part-time job as a way of making money.
During the summer, I also got an awesome opportunity to further my career as an author. I was invited to AnimeFest 2018 as a featured panelist and was offered an artist table in the Bizarre Bazaar. It excited me, but also made me a little conscious about my first novel and first help guide. I barely had anyone buy Loading Life or The Parents’ and Guardians’ Guide to Anime, Manga, and Cosplay online. But if I wanted to make this convention work, I would have to go into a little more debt to get everything ready for my table. And that meant spending around $500 for books alone.
And so I did. I worked as many hours as possible at my part-time job, while working hard on getting my display, bookmarks, and buttons done to aid in selling my books. And by August I was ready . . . Well, as ready as I could get in one month’s time. (It was my first con as an artist. There were a lot of things I messed up on, okay.)
When I took off nearly a week from work to go to this convention, I was praying desperately to at least make even. If I didn’t make all of it back, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I borrowed a lot from my credit cards just to get everything together. And that little ball of stress was whispering in my ear, saying I was going to fail.
And I did.
Well, depending on how you look at it.
It’s true. I barely make half of what I spent back. And that is kind of terrible – especially when your debt keeps growing each month. I felt abandoned, to say the least. And the stress crept back in.
But then God reminded me that there was something better to come to relieve my debt (and stress). I had learned a substantial amount of business matter from attending the con. Something I wouldn’t have learned if I had just read a book about business. And I had made meaningful connections with other artists and the convention staff there. It wasn’t a total loss if I didn’t focus on the money aspect of it.
So I buckled down again. Since school was back in session, I grabbed up as many days as I could manage with the ever-shifting schedule I had at my part-time job. But as the weeks went by, I kept getting agitated by my bosses and other associates. You see, I was offered a position as a Customer Service Manager – CSM – with the promise of getting a raise if I was good within the first three months. But even with a raise, the ever screaming in my face about something that I did wrong – when it was someone else entirely – is wearing me down. My boss asking me why there’s a huge line of customers waiting to be checked out but only one cashier when I had just gotten up there a second before she did. The constant nagging about why I’m not getting any of my zoning/straightening done, even though I’m stuck up front for the majority of my shift and can’t even go to the bathroom or get a drink of what when I need to.
To say it’s just stress is to say that a giant man-eating tiger is just a kitten.
And the nagging and yelling as if I’m the only one who has done wrong gets wrapped in with the fact that I only get my weekly schedule a few days beforehand. So that means I can’t make any plans with my friends or family, because I don’t know when I’ll have off. Or that I can’t pick up as many substituting jobs, because I don’t know when I’ll be available. And I don’t know if I’ll make enough each month in order to not only keep my bills paid, but, hopefully, start paying off my debt.
And all this is wrapped up nicely with the fact that I am still working my way to becoming a full-time writer. Right now, I am trying my hardest to finish my third book, the first in a series, so I’ll have more content to put out for my audience. Right now, I’m searching high and low for a wonderful semi-realistic artist, who has time to take on my cover artwork. Right now I am trying my best to just write.
And I feel like I’m failing.
But . . .
Here God is again to pull me back above the water. (Which, as I said before, He loves to do.)
I may not pay off my debt any time soon. And I may not have a steady schedule. And I may not find a cover artist or finish my third book this year. But I can at least breathe slowly. I can take each day, little by little, and know that God is there with His hand stretched out. I know He’s pulling me back up.
And I know He’s made me stubborn enough to not let this stress break me without a fight. And even if it shatters me, I know He can pull me back together into a stronger woman. A stronger person.
So for all of you out there going through stress, just remember. Humans are made of the toughest materials out there. We may not like stress, but we should know its God’s way of making us stronger.
And when I do pay off all my debt and become a fulltime author, I’ll let you know. ^_^