Working For Someone Else

So, it’s been a whole month working for someone other than me, working somewhere other than my house, and having clear physical boundaries between the place where I make money and the place I am creative and thoughtful. I am thoughtful at work too, but nearly 100% of all thoughtful energy is spent being awesome at my job and building a solid career. Building a career and charting an invisible path for myself into an invisible future where all things are unknown and unforeseen but I pretend like I can see them anyway is… fabulous.

So here is where I tell you how working for other people doesn’t feel like working for other people at all – it feels like working for myself. It feels like I made a decision just for me, just for my goals, just for the things I want out of life. And I didn’t settle for a job I just needed so I could pay the bills (and I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to NOT do that because up until this point any full time job I’ve ever had has been to pay the bills), and I didn’t feel rushed except for my own demand to preform, and I was patient, and in making that choice and doing something good for me (and not for the greater good of the family, or to please others, or to live up to expectations) it ended up being excellent for all the things outside of me.

I am more tired but I am also happier. I have to deal with some corporate annoyances, but I also get some corporate perks – like paid time off, and paid lunches once a month, and the chance to put on big girl pants and get off my mother-effing couch. I really do love Outlook, and notepads, and good inky pens, and emails that have a signature, and more than anything I really do love feeling like I am going somewhere and doing something and am actually appreciated for the contributions I’m making toward something bigger than myself. That part is really excellent.

I am lucky to have skill and education in an area that can be molded to what I need it to be. You want me to write about weddings? Done. You want me to write about mommas and babies? Done. You want me to write about hotels, yes please.

I know there is a big world out there and some of it screams at you to “get your 401k in order, lock yourself into a company with a good health plan and get yourself a house and some babies.” And there is the other side that says, “work for yourself! take charge of your own destiny, don’t be chained to a desk when you can work anywhere! Nothing is dependable and everything has changed from our parent’s generation.”

And I’ve fallen somewhere in the middle. I need some structure, I find investments and retirement plans to be comforting, having a regular paycheck is nothing to shake a stick at, and knowing what you’re working on every day and what your goals are from week to week is lovely. And to be honest, being able to work from anywhere means it’s incredibly hard to not be working everywhere, and I can’t live that life.

But do I feel chained to my desk? No. Do I have a house filled with projects and side-this and side-that? Yes. (Am I a little over extended – yes. oh YES.) Am I going to work for one company for 20 years? for 10? for 5? Probably not.

Work has to be something that’s bigger than just a paycheck in order to find joy in it. It has to be more than a means to an end. But it’s also, at the very same time, a means to an end. It’s all of those things when it’s a really good gig – it gives you the opportunity to travel or buy that house and invest those dollars, it gives you the chance to push yourself further into the things you love, to challenge yourself and take large leaps of faith. Is it always perfect? No. Was it the absolute right choice at the right time? This month I’m saying: Yes.

10 thoughts on “Working For Someone Else”

  1. This is so great for you! Kuddos!
    I’m just in the same place right now (except that my place is actually a library) so I totally relate.
    Keep writing here and there, and mostly here, that’s always a pleasure to read you!

  2. “I am more tired but I am also happier.”

    I was going to write a post about exactly that. This summer, I moved to a new city and started working in an office after working from home for two years (all with writerly stuff.) I know just what you mean about all of this.

    1. The truth of all that is I haven’t stopped doing any of the things I did before the job. I just added the job to the pile. And it’s actually made me more productive, more creative, more driven.

      It’s kind of amazing how that works.

  3. “…there is a big world out there and some of it screams at you to “get your 401k in order, lock yourself into a company with a good health plan and get yourself a house and some babies.” And there is the other side that says, “work for yourself! take charge of your own destiny, don’t be chained to a desk when you can work anywhere! Nothing is dependable and everything has changed from our parent’s generation.””

    Sometimes, I feel like these sort of opposing sentiments are a defining point of our generation. Both options are there, equally viable if you’re willing to take the associated risks but it always seems like an either/or … and it’s very hard when you want a little bit of column A, little bit of column B.

  4. Great post!

    “I really do love feeling like I am going somewhere and doing something and am actually appreciated for the contributions I’m making toward something bigger than myself.”

    Couldn’t have said it better! The hubs and I were just discussing these sorts of things last night. I’m very much a person who thrives on contributing to projects (as opposed to heading them up all by myself) and on having that structure of people who depend on and appreciate my skills.

    I feel like that structure saves me all the mental energy of trying to figure out, “Am I doing a good enough job? Should I be doing more? I should be doing more! Ugh, why is it so hard to do more?…” every freaking day. And that’s mental energy that can go into my non-work activities: art, cooking, taking care of the animals, keeping up some semblance of a social life, etc.

  5. This is such a great post. I am coming out of a (long, long) phase where I felt like I had to work for myself in order to be a worthwhile human being. Now I am seeing that, sure, it’s got its perks, but I really need the structure and dependability and income one can get from a working-for-someone-else job. (Having your own projects outside of work can make all the difference too, like you said.) And there ain’t no shame in that.

    I am so happy for you that you knew what you needed and you went for it. Kudos, lady.

    1. exactly exactly exactly. It doesn’t have to be all black and white. But of course the world wants everything to be in two categories and two categories only. The independent worker, the business owner, the employee (ok that’s three), you are only allowed to have one of these titles at any given time. And I don’t agree with that. I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules of what I should be or what I should do. And when people start in on that or make assumptions about who I am and what I do without seeing the big picture, all it does is make me so very angry.

  6. “So here is where I tell you how working for other people doesn’t feel like working for other people at all – it feels like working for myself. It feels like I made a decision just for me, just for my goals, just for the things I want out of life.”

    This seems like an important distinction. I think it’s also why I’m *aching* to work for myself at the moment. With my current job, I don’t feel like I’m working towards MY goals–I’m working towards someone else’s goals. And I gotta say–I have a GOOD job. A very good job, with a steady paycheck and great people to work with. But…it grates. It really does.

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