Doing my taxes puts me in a really bad mood.
It feels like a black-and-white awareness that I suck. True financial recognition that I’m not making the amount of money I thought I would. Or could. Or should. I hate doing my taxes.
While finishing is the goal, it means I have to turn around and send a bunch of money to the government for back-taxes owed. Penalties assessed, the pain won’t end. A second payment also is required, on the very same day, yet processed in a different way, for estimated 2017 taxes. Ah, the joys of self-employment.
Not having a typical J-O-B isn’t just about working in your pajamas. It means doing taxes is a pain. In the past, when I had a traditional job, I could knock my returns out in an hour or two. Now, I dread the multi-day process for weeks in advance. It requires reconciling credit card statements and sorting through online payments I can’t remember having made.
My Self-Esteem Suffers at Tax Time
Others are quick to offer advice for my pain. “Why don’t you just hire someone to do that?” Thank you, ambassador of the obvious. Yes, I’m aware I could pay someone else to do the deed, but it still would require me to spend just as much time getting prepared to hand over my information. I’m just not that organized, and I’m also not sure I’d have the nerve to hand over a Hefty bag filled with evidence of my life. Plus, I wouldn’t be able to procrastinate nearly as long, and I’m not sure I want to share my financial-self with someone else.
As the amount of money I owe ticks higher, my brain drifts, wondering for the billionth time who are all these people in Dallas who can afford to buy these new townhomes that start at $500K. What would it be like to not worry about money? Is it a point one can ever reach?
To-do lists sprout, all of the time-consuming things that are necessary but not urgent. What I need to take care of yet conveniently seem to forget. Over and over again, I write them down, to at least ease the burden, teasing myself to believe that means they will get done. Ha!
The annual process also is a painfully good way of getting a handle on the health of my bank account. What it’s costing me to bank the money I make. Wondering again if I should take a job where I’d make more money and not have to worry about the quality of health insurance coverage available to someone working for themselves. Yes, I’d miss the freedom and flexibility and diversity, but maybe that’s worth the financial consistency and accompanying benefits package?
I think of the latest magazine article where a celeb hits some milestone age — say 35 or 40 — and bam! Magically they’ve achieved a level of self-acceptance, no longer caring what others think. They don’t claim to have actually done any work on themselves to achieve this enlightenment. Instead, it seems to come simply by turning a certain number.
I’ve hit those numbers. Nothing happened.
I want to believe it’s nonsense, but then I wonder: are some people just built that way? Where they really do like and accept themselves and aren’t prone to worrying about everything and have a more stable self-esteem?
I’m having coffee with a woman who tells me she’s achieved her bucket list. Is she lying? Do people my age really use that term that I thought was reserved for old men? It forces my own “middle-age” reality. The desire to check things off the proverbial list. Middle-age. Another word I hate.
Lately I seem to be surrounded by folks who are wildly successful beyond their own dreams. I’m never quite sure if they are trying to spin me. Or themselves. Maybe that’s half the battle? To believe, or even be willing to try and believe, to move towards self-acceptance.
Meanwhile, missed opportunities and my mistakes play over and over in my head, like an annoying song that gets stuck in my brain.
I wonder why is it easier to forgive others than myself. I suck at apologizing to myself and fail at actually accepting said apology. Instead, my misdeeds and mistakes are cemented solidly in my own judgment.
I’d be the first to dance on my own grave if I could. And if I didn’t want to be cremated, which I do.
This column originally appeared in the Katy Trail Weekly.