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Queerly Beloved // Gem Sheps

In case anyone was wondering, working two jobs and going to school full time is something you really shouldn’t do when you’re chronically ill.

Going to college alone is a task that requires an incredible amount of dedication and energy. Taking a job alongside that workload stretches you pretty thin.

Taking an additional second job? Bad move.

Doing that all when you can barely even get up in the morning because you’re in pain and exhausted no matter what you do? A death sentence.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a choice, because paying rent in Denver is nearly as costly as my college education. “Nearly” meaning that my yearly rent is only $300 less than the cost of my yearly tuition. Thus, I took on a second job to offset the costs and to grant me the ability to buy a grocery load that doesn’t consist of only rice, bacon, and coffee.

Still, the extra exertion is slowly killing me. I only started my second job a week ago, but all of my shifts are no less than eight hours and my job is in food service, so I spend the whole shift standing, walking, lifting, and pushing things around. I have a chronic pain condition that causes “tender points” to manifest throughout my body, and being on my feet is making them much worse than usual.

Working eight-hour shifts is also increasing my fatigue exponentially, which is leaving me with a lot less time to do my schoolwork. Lately, I’ve been coming home and immediately napping or going to bed, depending on the time of day.

There’s also the matter of having to deal with particularly difficult people in the food industry. As an introvert, my mental energy is drained past the point of no return after a shift. Some interactions actually result in a panic attack, which I struggle to mitigate without my service dog by my side; the environment is too dangerous to bring him along with me, so I fly solo for his sake.

I really like my new job, as well as this job—working at the Sentry—but if given the option, I wouldn’t work at all while I’m in college. The experience I’m gaining will look great to future employers, but I’m stretched too thin, past the point of discomfort into outright anguish.

Dramatic, I know—but I am an English student. I just can’t help myself.

Gem Sheps
Gem Sheps

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