Do it for the poor

I was told recently that ‘poor’ is no longer a PC term. I always used to call myself that, and I fling it around without care. ‘Low income’ is the correct term, but it doesn’t really encapsulate the same feelings in myself. Oh well.

So I work for a charity. This morning I have some time to kill because I just got a nice new camera and I need to take photos of all our shops–one of them is right down the street for me so I’m getting a late start.

I always wanted to work in the non-profit sector–which I guess university is supposed to technically be a part of. But what I mean is I wanted to make a difference and help the poor. Perhaps make it so there are less poor, or the poor at least can jump a bracket into the slightly impoverished state. In the western world even the poor haveĀ #firstworldproblems. That makes my job more interesting. It doesn’t change their status, their pain and suffering, but its not quite as exotic.

Despite my post a while ago saying the honeymoon was over–it doesn’t mean I want a divorce. It just means I’ve got to work at this and find the balance.

Now that I realize that I can quit my job, change my career and do whatever its become a matter of fine tuning. Life is too short to be angry, upset or hate your job. I do feel some dread at the moment, but the good still out weights it all.

On the plus side, my celery plant and ginger plant are growing. I should learn from them…

Job Honeymoons

I was sitting in my second review meeting a few weeks back and one of the board members I just met turned to me and asked how it was all going. Of course my answer was positive and excited and enthusiastic. He looked me right in the eye and said “ah, so the honeymoon isn’t over yet!” He explained how soon I would stop my enthusiastic climb and start to slump. The slump could last months, according to him, but the trick was to persevere through it, and it would level off. Then it would be okay.

Part of me disagreed vehemently (in my mind and silently of course) I don’t want to slump, and if I do, I will never ‘level off’. That means I am stagnant and I want to always be growing! Well, its good in theory at least…

I’ve reached the end of the honeymoon now, and I actually find myself yearning for that level period. Looking back on what he said its not so much about the physical actions of doing the job and love of work, its about emotions and relationships. That leveling off, I hope, means the extremes will mellow and that comfortableness will help me have more confidence in myself and my work. I still want to always improve, but coming home either bouncing with joy or in floods of tears is draining–I hope to settle for contentment.

The world hasn’t stopped spinning yet

You know how when you are little and in school, and you miss a day–you think to yourself, how could they possibly carry on? What were lessons like, and how did everyone not feel the gaping hole left by your absence?

If your school was anything like mine, you quickly learned that it did go on, because the catch up homework was insane. Everyone else had theirs done, knew the lessons and information except for you.

Last year as a teacher I learned that it can actually be quite lovely to miss class and set an assignment for someone else to oversee. I didn’t even mind the extra grading.

The world never stops spinning it seems.

Well, I had stopped blogging for a while and the world kept on. I stopped because I finally managed to get a job. That big magical J-word that should somehow complete me, give me an identity and pay the bills. Well, one step at a time. It is just for 6 months, and it is not my identity, but it will do.

Then I went to my sister’s wedding which required 2 weeks off šŸ™‚

At school, you know how to catch up, as a teacher, you pre-plan your missed days, but in the normal work force, your own little corner actually does stop spinning. Its an odd game of catch up that I’m playing now. I don’t hate it, its just a new experience. Perhaps it finally is satisfying that inner self-centered demon we all keep telling us only I can do that job…well, for the moment because you are the only one assigned to it, but lets end on a happy note.

Do what you love, but make sure you get paid

Most people have been profoundly inspired by Steve Job’s insights way back in 2005 about doing what you love. I have 2 basic, rambling thoughts on this as they regard my own unemployment and period of worry:

First, he declares that he was lucky to find what he loved early in life. Starting young is a nice option for those of you that know yourselves. I thought I knew myself. That academia and the life of the mind was for me. I would read and write all morning, and I would share with keen students in the afternoons, and when possible I would commune with other scholars in a romantic exchange of ideas. This wasn’t how it was. I had a supervisor once, when I in passing to make conversation, ask her about her latest research declare to me “I can’t tell you, lest someone else find out.” Sharing must be done carefully and documented so it cannot be stolen I guess.

I thought loving it, and hard work, finishing a PhD would be enough. But when I got there, I still liked the reading and the writing, but there was student bashing, peer attacks and all manner of problems. No place is perfect. And to top it off, it was a system that was crumbling with lack of jobs and lack of pay. It wasn’t the subject I loved (although I did) it was the actions. The reading, writing, sharing, improving and publishing into the world. So I left what I thought I had been lucky enough to find when I was young.

But now, I’m not that young, not that lucky, and I have to try and dream with my wings cut. I’m doing it, but slowly.

The second point is about loving work in general. See, the way academia can get people to stay is the love. Its not work if you love it, so you should do it for free. Perhaps you remember a while back when this article came out. If your job is what you love does that cheapen it make you have to do it for free or else? The need for a living wage is a thing.

Well, I’m in the middle of reading Amanda Palmer’s new bookĀ The Art of Asking and you need to ask for help, whatever the situation really and artists have to demand pay especially in this age where music and words are free. But it is the ‘no’ that is scary. “Please take a chance on me,” I’ll say, “You have no skills, so…no” they reply. I know the popular phrase is: “No one owes you a living”Ā but I’ll never get anything if I don’t ask. Perhaps it is a bit of a stretch.

I won’t find what I love sitting here writing–well, unless the answer is writing.Ā Some jobs are boring, but that isn’t the same as hating it. You can love the paycheck so much that it doesn’t matter so long as you still have a life in the background.

This brings me back, again, to who am I? Am I my job? Why do we as a society put so much emphasis on how we earn money. The thing that we do from 9 to 5 (or longer if you are unlucky) that takes us away from home, family, friends, and other hobbies? Why would we define ourselves by that? I heard once that it has all been downhill since the Agricultural Revolution. We went from gathering what food we needed for the day, hunting, or gathering perhaps a few trinkets, and then mostly chilling, to toiling daily in a field and it got worse with each advancement. More work, less life.

My good friend said, only the rich say money doesn’t matter, because they’ve never been without it. Thats why we define ourselves by our jobs. Our worth is our paycheck. That means my worth at the moment is a big fat zero. I don’t need pity though, because right now, my problem is that I have too much lifeĀ and free time. Is this truly living? Or am I a parasite? I don’t know what I love doing that will get me paid. I don’t know even what I’m good at.

So I typed into Google a few days ago ‘Unemployment blogs’ and other such depressing variations but I didn’t find much by way of inspiration from it, or further wallowing as the case may be. But I’m starting not to care. I want more than a paycheck, a day-killer, and a sense of place within society. I want to be okay. And I’m getting there.