An impossible cure for burnout?second job

Like Murphy, many overemployed people are achieving financial milestones that once seemed out of reach—from buying a home to amassing sizable savings. In one Discord conversation, one member enjoyed the feeling of getting two paychecks on the same day, while the others responded to the emoji in pleasantly consistent ways. In another channel, called “2x-success-stories,” members discuss victories ranging from paying off a loved one’s credit card debt to giving themselves a 130% or 200% raise by getting a second job.

But many victories don’t matter. Counterintuitively, proponents say the idea of ​​working more — and the theoretical obligation to work 80 or more hours a week — is liberating not only financially, but emotionally and professionally as well. Discussions on Discord warn member companies of “red flag” behavior — from startups that meet expectations to a culture of unnecessary urgency. These conversations demonstrate a growing disbelief that the workplace bears any resemblance to family, with members often citing their real family—spouse, toddler, parent—as their choice to prioritize corporate loyalty people. It is widely believed that many jobs are nothing more than getting paid for services until it is no longer beneficial.

Overemployed people rarely seek self-actualization and meaning-making at work. Many eschew career aspirations and add relatively junior extra jobs that allow them to get the job done without the obligations that come with higher positions. Those seeking fulfillment from ages 9 to 5 are discouraged on Discord and Reddit, told to look elsewhere and resist corporate intrusions into their lives, and encouraged to find meaning outside of employment constraints.

While stories exist of people with six jobs, most people in the community only work two, avoid lifestyle bloat and escalating expenses, and save for personal or family goals. Many people are content to slip through their jobs, not necessarily because they are eager to take advantage of the company, but because they have already experienced burnout from overworking one job — with little reward for their efforts. In one thread, where someone considered quitting one of their three roles, another poster responded matter-of-factly: “Don’t quit, just give up on your ideas.”

Since there are multiple jobs, the poster says they never fully depend on any job. It is a rejection of work as an identity and work as a means to an end. And most people have exit strategies, financial goals or numbers that will put them all in. Overemployment provides a renewed sense of confidence and positivity in times of uncertainty, a sense of recapturing power.

Murphy has no moral qualms about overemployment, suggesting it is both ethical and common. “My mom had two jobs growing up, but we didn’t think it was weird because it was a working-class situation,” she said. “But if you’re a knowledge worker and you do multiple jobs, some people think it’s unethical. No, if you’re doing your job.”

Still, Murphy is terrified of being discovered and potentially losing both roles in the pandemic. Her anxiety peaked when the HR meeting for her first job materialized on her work calendar. She was afraid that her secrets would be exposed. She imagines that the HR coordinators of the two companies somehow communicated and ruined her life, and only she herself was to blame for trying to succeed and save faster. In reality, the call was completely different: the company was laying off employees, and she was fired a few years later. “I saved a lot of money,” Murphy said. “I ended up being very grateful that I had a secret second job.”

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