What I’ve learned from juggling two jobs

If college teaches you one thing, it’s that the world outside of college life is usually nothing like what you imagined. This is especially true when you finally enter the adult workforce. I’ll be honest, after I graduated from college, not only did I assume I’d find a job right off the bat, but I also figured I’d be making more money than I would know what to do with. Neither of those things ended up being true.

After  several months of job hunting, I did finally land a job in my field. What I did not land, however, was a salary that dreams are made of, and once my student loans started looming over me, I knew something had to be done. So, I went out and got myself a second job. Every day after working my coveted 9 to 5 gig, I would head out to another four-hour shift at my local mall. It wasn’t glamorous, but the bills were getting paid and that was all that mattered.

Over the past couple of years, my salary has increased, but life still likes to throw in curve balls. From having to buy a new car to offering to pick up the slack when my boyfriend went back to school, the bills just kept coming, so I kept the second job. Eventually I was finally able to quit and it feels so good to be down to one workplace a day, but I’ve also been reflecting on my time juggling it all, and I’ve come away with a few takeaways.

Working hard is nothing to be ashamed of

At times it was almost embarrassing to be working a second job when most of my coworkers didn’t have to. Money is always a sensitive subject, and I couldn’t help but feel that I had somehow not achieved success yet because of it. What I want you readers out there to know is that having multiple jobs doesn’t mean anything definite. Sometimes you might need money to cover an unexpected medical bill and sometimes you might just want to treat yourself to a purse that costs half as much as your rent. Whatever your reasons, own it and be proud that you have the grit it takes to get what you want.

You have to learn how to prioritize things that really matter

If there is one thing you learn how to do when your free time is limited is to only use those moments on things or people who really matter. Working multiple jobs means that when you do get time to yourself, that time is like gold. For me that meant quitting the gym (which I hated going to anyway) and using that time to exercise outside with my boyfriend and my dog, or not hitting up happy hour with a group of old college buddies in favor of a quiet coffee date with a best gal pal. Whatever matters most to you, make it a priority!

If you don’t value your own time, no one else will

What I found when juggling two jobs is that sometimes you might get pressure from your secondary job to do and work more. In these cases, be empowered to push back. Picking up a shift outside of your availability or on your day off is OK once in a while, but don’t let yourself be pushed into a corner. You can only do so much in a day or week and everyone needs a break to recharge and unwind. Don’t feel guilty, you’ve more than earned a night in bed with a bowl of popcorn and Netflix!

Real life time management is a skill worth perfecting

You know how in college you thought you were a rock star by juggling classes, your social life, and your job or internship? Turns out, that was just practice for the big leagues. Adulting is hard, and the older you get the more responsibilities you have. Being able to manage your time effectively is a skill that will help you throughout your entire life, so use your dual employment status to work on perfecting managing your free and scheduled time. You’ll be happier in the long run and those skills will last a lifetime.

You CAN do it, even when it’s so hard

Not going to lie, there were nights when I got home so mentally and physically exhausted that I wondered if it was even worth it. What I can sit back and say now is that I didn’t give up, and as a result, I’m raking in the benefits even now. In the scheme of life, working two jobs is cake, and if you stick with it I promise you’ll be proud of yourself.

I’ve learned a lot by working multiple jobs over the years, and ultimately I’ve proven that I can take care of myself no matter what the circumstances. So can you. 

[Image via NBC]