“It Must Be Nice…”

There are a few sayings or phrases that I’m honestly just so tired of hearing, but this one makes the top of the list. Generally, when I hear this phrase it’s directly after I’ve told someone that I work part-time (or, currently am looking for part-time work). It never fails and it doesn’t matter really who I tell it to. When I say that I work 20 hours or so a week, I hear, “Well, it must be nice to not have to work full time.”

The reason I must work part-time, though it’s really no one’s business but mine and my husband’s, is because I physically cannot work full-time. Well, I guess technically I can, but working full-time means having no work-life balance whatsoever. Whereas most people can work a 40 hour workweek or more and still be able to function at home, I cannot. If I want to be a good wife and friend to others, I have to work part-time. Otherwise my free time will be spent on my couch with a heating pad more often than it is now.

Before I go further, I would like to add that I know I am lucky and I am grateful that I am able to afford to work part-time. I know of many people who shouldn’t work full-time due to health issues, but they unfortunately have no choice because they can’t afford to live otherwise. They have to choose between quality of life and paying bills, and my heart goes out to them.

So here is what I want to say to those who think it must be nice for me to work part-time:

  • It must be nice to not be in pain all the time.
  • It must be nice to be able to advance in your career because you can work full-time.
  • It must be nice to not have to worry about qualifying for health insurance.
  • It must be nice to be healthy.
  • It must be nice to not have to take breaks while brushing your hair because it causes so much pain.
  • It must be nice to get up in the morning without crying in pain.
  • It must be nice to make more money.
  • It must be nice to be so utterly out of touch with the painful problems I have that you think me working part-time is fun or that I’m on a vacation somehow.

Up until I became injured, I worked full-time. At the age of 18 I was running a doctor’s office. My future was bright. I had potential and drive and the ability to take on any obstacle thrown my way. I struggled with anxiety and depression, but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle. I was strong and independent and happy. Then I got hurt and all of that went away.

Now, I’m 28 years old and my body is slowly but surely breaking down. Some part of my body is constantly in pain. I am dependent upon medications (which someday soon will probably be taken from me) to have some semblance of normalcy. I am still strong, but I’ve lost my independence. My future has dimmed substantially because I probably will never be able to work full-time again, and how can you advance in a career when working part-time? You can’t.

I still suffer from anxiety and depression, but now it’s added to physical pain, as well. The anxiety comes from the fact that I will never be who I once was and the depression comes from not being able to pull my weight around when it comes to finances. Most days I feel more like a burden than anything else. When I’m at home while you’re at work, I’m not out having a good time. I’m sitting on my couch or in my recliner with a heating pad.

The next time you feel the need to make a comment like this to someone, just don’t. You can’t know what someone’s life is unless they tell you, and if you know someone is dealing with chronic illness or injury and you say it anyway, that makes you the worst type of person.