Working for Free

A few days ago, I was photoshopping posters for my club epic and I let out a huge sigh, tired after doing work all day. My sister questioned, “are you getting paid for this?” Her harsh tone caught me off guard.

“Why are you yelling at me?” I responded.

“I just want to know—are you getting paid?” The way she spoke felt extremely condescending.

“Why are you yelling at me?” I repeated, trying to stay civil even though my blood was boiling from immediate frustration at the way she was speaking to me. Her answer was that she didn’t understand why I was stressing myself out doing things for free that I should be paid for. Why didn’t she get that I obviously made time to do these things because I felt like I got something out of them? It made me internally furious that she clearly thought I was wasting my time. But was she right? Maybe all of this work for extra-curricular activities wasn’t worth doing. Is it a waste of time when there’s so much going on with this, school, and work? Should I sacrifice the satisfaction this free work gives me in order to find another source of income instead? Money is probably more rewarding, right? On multiple occasions throughout life, nearly all of us have likely heard the phrase “money doesn’t buy happiness.” Life has taught me otherwise. In this day and age, money sure does buy happiness. Can a transaction be made where you pay money in exchange for the emotion? Not exactly (except maybe in the form of drugs). But indirectly, yup-yup, many things can be bought with money that may bring happiness: education, a house, employees, businesses, retail therapy, the means to adopting a child, a spouse, food, status, a voice, cosmetic surgery, etc. The list goes on and on.

Today I came home and mentioned writing an article for HerCampus.

“Are you getting paid for it?”

“Why do you keep asking me that?”

“I just don’t like that you’re wasting your time when you’re not getting paid for it.” There it was. She explicitly stated that she thought I was wasting my time.

About an hour later, I felt the need to bring the issue up again--I asked her why she kept pressing me on whether or not I was getting paid for the things I do.

“Cause I feel like you do too much free work and you’re always tired.”

“Well I do school work for free.”

“Yeah, but you get a degree out of it and a job.”

“I get connections, education, experience, and fulfilment out of the ‘free’ things that I do.”

“That’s true.” She still seemed unsatisfied with this. Why did it bother her so much? We were quiet for a bit, carrying on with our own individual tasks.

“Work hard. Get more A’s,” she said to me as she heads upstairs for the night, referencing a paper I had mentioned getting back a few hours earlier.