Not a proper job

Many regularly employed folk view self employment as being somehow less than a proper job. If you’re a stay at home mum, you are even more likely to find people perceive what you do as a ‘hobby job’. (Yes, people have said that to my face.) If your work is creative, you will again find the regularly employed view this as an easy option, not real work at all and a bit of a skive. For anyone whose bardic life is their employment or who works as a Druid in some way, this is going to be an occupational hazard. So, let’s do some mythbusting.

Being self employed is the easy option. No. Not only are you doing the work, you’re selling the work, finding the clients, keeping the books, you’re the receptionist, and the creative director, and you sink or swim entirely on your own efforts. If you are sick or take a holiday, you do not get paid.

Working from home means staying in your pyjamas and not putting in as many hours as everyone else. Not so. Working from home frequently requires you to leave the home. You may have a shorter commute but you have no one to share the coffee break with. Also, at the end of the working day, you do not get to leave it all behind. In practise, self employed people often work longer hours than regularly employed people.

It’s fun, you get it easy. Yes, being creative is fun. Learning songs is fun, writing poems and books is fun, painting pictures is fun. Except, your income depends entirely on your creativity. Most jobs if you have an off day, you’ll still get paid. Creativity depends on inspiration, and that’s tricksy. Many creative people live in fear of block. Also, the creative bit is only part of the job, you still have to research, practice, get it out there, sell it, promote etc. There’s a great deal of graft involved in being professionally creative, and not much certainty. Oh, and mortgage companies eye you with suspicion.

You get to stay home with your kids. You’re so lucky. I wish I could do that. Yes I do, and I am very grateful. I also get to return to work again after the kid has gone to bed, and to work before he goes to school. Stay at home mums often carry the bulk of the housework as well. That can mean working some very long days. It is a choice with many merits, but not a cop-out.

There are many pluses – the freedom to pick when to work (kind of) the being able to fit in around offspring, doing things I love (at least some of the time) being answerable only to me (and the tax man) occasionally being able to work from the duvet (when I am too sick to get up and work properly dressed). You get the idea. I like the fact that I fail or succeed based entirely on the quality and cleverness of what I do. I like that I get to live my own life, take time off when I want it, work when I feel inspired. Sometimes I work until midnight. Sometimes I start at five in the morning. I like being able to care for my home and family around having a job. But what I really, really don’t enjoy are the many people who disparage, devalue and otherwise put me down because I’m not someone else’s wage slave.

The models of working that serve big corporations and the fat cats running them do not serve the people who work there. They seldom serve the environment, or families. The regularly employed have to fight for work life balance, endure their commutes, their lack of control over their own work lives and the stress all of this brings them. At least my stresses are largely my own to manage, and that’s a huge advantage. Smaller, more locally focused business are far better socially and environmentally. That means self employed folk. Self employment and the flexibility it brings is far more realistic for those who are also carers, or unwell themselves. The system we have is biased against it and unsupportive of it. That needs to change.

4 thoughts on “Not a proper job”

  1. I worked from the age of 16yo, until age 42 when I left behind a career that I really loved, working with people I liked and respected, I was also paid very well… it was NOT easy for me to walk away. Not at all. Also, I went from having very, very little, way back when, to earning enough to cover all of our bills, plus provide a job to someone else, to keep my house and raise my kids. I could do this on my own, without hubby’s pay added in. It was very hard to walk away from my chosen career and that sort of financial independence. But work was full time, and my family needed a full-time mom/wife… there are only 24 hours in one day. Nannies are fine. Maids are a godsend. But families need mom. Becoming a SAHM is a luxury, but not the stay home, eat bonbons, be bored, and goof off sort of luxury that people imagine. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m still confused some days. I wonder if I can keep up with the goals we’ve set, and I get frustrated at being out of the workforce and not bringing in my paycheck, but I know I have a ‘proper job’, the most important job in the world now actually, and it is hard work, nevermind that I do not do anything now to ‘earn a living’ on top of managing my home, that would be even harder – hat’s off to those who manage -and I cheat, I still have a part-time maid. Yet, I’m still busy all day/night/weekends!. If I didn’t think this job was worth it though, as in, it being the most important thing that I SHOULD do with my life, I’d have never walked away from my career…. but I did, because I know what matters. I know I have a proper job, and those who may say otherwise… as you so rightly describe… have NO idea..

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  2. I totally agree with you Connie, being a mum, in a dedicated, present and active sort of way is one of the most important jobs there is. Being a carer of any kind is a serious business – and its work that tends to be overlooked and taken for granted because no one else writes you a cheque for doing it.

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  3. Absolutely. What would we do without SAHMs and those who work hard for and by themselves for far more important things than many wage-slaves? Live and be rewarded in your work (as best you can!) – remember that on the tough days! X

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