Tutoring this semester is a good thing. It's almost certainly making me a better teacher for my lab because when the girl I tutor, L., struggles, it's a safe bet some of my other students are having similar problems. It's also pretty much covering the cost of groceries.
I should be happy about that, right? Somehow, instead I feel mildly guilty. It's awkward at the end of each session when L. digs a ten dollar bill out of her pocket and thanks me. It's clear she doesn't come from a wealthy family. Her finances are tight. This is her last semester as an undergrad, and she's certain she'll have to work and save before she can apply to pharmacy school. Doing well in this physics class will help her get in and achieve her goals, so she seems to think paying for extra help is a good investment. I should be paying her. Watching her slowly build mastery is a great joy. She makes me feel needed, and she laughs at my jokes.
At this point in my life, I have the luxury of taking only jobs that please me. As a result, the work I end up doing is generally something I'd happily do for free. There's something very peculiar about being offered an additional reward for such a rewarding activity. If it's possible to go through life enjoying what I do to earn my bread, I should be content, but I can't quite get over the feeling that that's almost cheating. Shouldn't work involve sacrifice?