Should I be earning more money?


I’m a 27-year-old INFP woman. I live with my parents, have a boyfriend of four years, and quit a good office job last year to travel. Now I’m a part-time manual laborer (I’m a longshoreman, so I tie up container and cruise ships). I also have my own office space where I do some freelance writing and photography. I don’t market my freelance services at all—so I get very little work, and it’s all word of mouth. I can bring my dog to my office, which I love.

Other than traveling, I’ve been working on a novel for the past year. I don’t tell anyone that because I’m embarrassed by it. I almost started an MFA in creative writing last fall but didn’t because it wasn’t free and you told me it was a bad decision anyway.

I’m pretty happy doing what I’m doing (longshoring, occasional freelance, personal writing projects), but I’m not making much money, and I feel like I should. Especially because I do want to have kids within a couple of years. And my own house would be nice, too.

I’ve started applying to jobs and have gotten a few interviews that might lead to job offers. I’m also vacillating as to whether apply to my former employer (same role for a different department at a big corporation). I left on great terms with them, but I’m afraid I might apply and get interviews and then decide I don’t want to work there. Which would be really shitty, and I hate being really shitty.

As a side note: I’m worried by the current political climate, and the actual climate, and the world. This contributes to my desire to make money (money = stability).

What should I do?


8 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    You should keep the job you have and keep doing what you’re doing. Read the article in the New Yorker about billionaires in Silicon Valley buying islands in the Pacific because they are scared the world is going to hell; no one has enough money to feel secure.

    Financial security is a mindset. That’s great news for you since you are not really motivated to earn a lot of money.

    You don’t need to earn a  lot of money to have kids. Just get a partner. It’s very very hard to be a single parent, and a spouse will also contribute money to the family. You’ll be fine.

    You have a good life. You’ve chosen well for yourself. Celebrate.

    Here are a couple of posts about financial security and how it’s a red herring:

  2. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    When I read you’re embarrassed to tell anyone about the novel you’re working on, don’t market your freelance services, and hesitate to interview with your former employer, I get the impression you’re lacking the self-confidence you desire. Also you have many interests which is good but may be preventing you from establishing necessary focus on those things that matter most to you. You’re “pretty” happy as you say but there’s always more that can be achieved while still being able to maintain that same level of happiness or even improve upon it. Financial security is a mindset as Penelope says. Also when you said you were considering getting an MFA in creative writing, it gave me the impression you may consider having the degree is somehow worth more than what you’d learn in the process of getting it. There’s a lot of things in life that are attainable that don’t require permission.

  3. Sara O'Neal
    Sara O'Neal says:

    It sounds like you have a great setup with a part-time job and time to explore your own interests, and that balance can be really hard to find. As a fellow INFP (35 years old, married 5 years, no kids), I would say that being happy with your work situation and work-life balance is infinitely more critical for our personality type than making more money. At this point in my career, I have abandoned the higher paying “management” track and have opted for a lower-paying job that better fits my values and leaves me with a better work-life balance. Most importantly, I am really happy with my job (finally!). At first my husband and I were worried about the drop in pay, but we have enough to cover our bills and save for the future, so it hasn’t been that bad. Also, now that I am more satisfied with my life in general, I find that I can be happier with less money, too. Good luck!

  4. Sue @ The Study of Humans
    Sue @ The Study of Humans says:

    I agree you don’t need to make a lot of money, but I think it’s important to make enough to eliminate the dependency on your parents. Living with your parents because you want to is entirely different than living with your parents because you’re financially dependent on them. Not sure which is the case for you, but if it’s the latter than I would strive to make more money.

  5. jessica
    jessica says:

    Does the boyfriend not earn enough money? Does he want to get married? Seems like you are pretty happy yourself. The correct partner will fill out the future goals in relation to family life. Good luck.

  6. Hazel
    Hazel says:

    Are you a casual or a member of the ILWU or ILA? If you can hang in there you can help grown the labor movement.

  7. Dana
    Dana says:

    You are living my dream life. You should definitely celebrate. Don’t screw it up.

    -Fellow INFP

Comments are closed.