When the money isn’t worth it

Full disclosure. I actually wrote a post about money not always being worth it a week ago, but I made the mistake of updating plugins the same day and things crashed and there hadn’t been a backup made that day yet. So it got lost, and I was in such a bad place that just the idea of rewriting it felt like an insurmountable mountain.

Then Angela wrote a post about high functioning anxiety a week later, and I thought to myself “I can do the thing”.

So here we are. And even though we are still young without even a year of expenses in an emergency fund, I have learned that there are definitely instances when the money just isn’t worth it.

My recent trip to Svalbard

Last year I attended a course on Svalbard. Like all courses up here, it was a small, intimate thing, and our class was considered large with only 18 students (compared to 12 this year). Because of my skill set, and because academia can be remarkably flexible about these things (think writing sabbaticals and multiple professorships), the professor asked me if I would like to help with the course this year along with a couple others.

As with so many things a year away, a lot of things happened in the meantime. I learned that none of the previous assistants were on the team this year (so zero continuity), and some other things that just made me regret every saying yes. By the time it was time to leave, I was dreading it fiercely. But I had given my word, so it would be really shitty to go back on it now, much as I wanted to.

Of course, it didn’t help that I was dreading it. There is no doubt that my anxiety colored my perception of the entire experience.

But equipment missing or faulty, pretty much zero instruction/training and an instrument not working to such an extent that I had to log on remotely every 40 minutes throughout the entire day for a week just to get through the samples. That’s not just me being a negative Nancy.

An introvert’s nightmare

Most people assume that the Arctic, with its small population and harsh climate, is a pretty lonely place to live.

You’d be wrong.

With so few people, it becomes necessary to socialize with those around you. Like classmates and teaching staff. It is way more social than any university campus I’ve been to. Last year I was in a better place, but this time I was depleted even before I landed.

Mr. Frugasaurus had been gone for two weeks on pet sitting duties just before my departure, so neither of us were looking forward to another six weeks apart. (As an aside, we agree that we don’t want to do this again, ever, if we can help it.)

I don’t know if I was depressed before I left, but I’ve definitely been depressed while up here. To the point where I’m barely managing my work duties and have been a grumpy grinch to both students and coworkers.

At least my removing myself from social events and being a general grouch stopped the invitations coming. I effectively isolated myself from everyone. And I just miss Mr. Frugasaurus. And our house. And the garden. He’s been digging up a kitchen garden in a corner, did you know? I keep getting photographic evidence. We think the risk for frost is over, so he put some seeds in the ground before he comes to visit in a few days. And he’s bringing cinnamon buns. How is that for awesome?

Lesson learned

In a week, I’ll deliver my time sheets and head home again. If anything, at least it has been a lesson learned. This money was definitely not worth it. The anxiety and dread related to this job both before and during have been a large factor in why I haven’t managed to do any blogging in the last two months.

Trying to work two full time jobs has something to do with it too, although one of them is remote.

I have already said I will not be returning next year. Luckily for me, my supervisor supports this decision whole-heartedly, and will say the same thing if this professor asks him.

Also, the Arctic is apparently exotic and fantastic and wonderful and some people want to come here so much that they refuse to get paid for their time?!?
This just boggles my mind.

Maybe it’s because I’ve already lived in the Arctic for four years (albeit an arctic much further south and with trees), but… it isn’t that amazing to me. I miss the spring, the green, the growing things too much.

At the very least, I learned it is not for me.

2 Comments on “When the money isn’t worth it

  1. So glad you posted this one ❤️ As far as long periods of time apart, after my husband’s time in the military we decided we never wanted to do that long distance thing again. I realize that wasn’t the only thing in play for you here, but I think it absolutely amplifies those feelings.

    If you ever find yourself reconsidering in future years, now you have this post to refer back to and remember those feelings and why you said no more.

    • Thank you, friend.

      I have realized the last week that cuddling with Mr. Frugasaurus had become one of my key winding-down rituals when I am socially stressed. So that hasn’t helped either. 😂

      And yet, it is definitely important to remember these moments, just as it can be cathartic to write about it.

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