I’ve never liked people telling me to do things I didn’t want to do, which isn’t such a great trait to have in a society that expects you to work for others.
I started working when I was 15 years old as a bagger at a local grocery store. It was a very easy position that paid minimum wage but I hated it. I hated having to go somewhere that I didn’t really want to be. Unlike others that I know, I was never motivated by the thought of having a paycheck twice a month for the work that I did. I just still hated it.
I’m 26 years old and I’ve had about 14 jobs. I’ve sold clothes at a women’s fashion store, served at a steakhouse, been a cashier at a store, managed children at day cares or public centers, been a banker, and wrote captions for TV and film, just to name a few. Each of the jobs had their perks — discounts on food or clothes, GREAT co-workers, good hours, good pay, benefits, or a relaxed uniform. But despite these perks, I still hated going to work. I didn’t like being given a schedule, told what I could or could not wear, or made to do menial tasks that I didn’t care to do.
Following college, I was excited for the first time to get into the workforce. There were thousands of jobs that I didn’t even know about that I could fall in love with. There were so many things I could learn, people I could meet, things that I could do. I ended up getting a job captioning and subtitling TV and film. It was a cool sounding job. I did get to watch TV and films all day every day, and my co-workers were super awesome. Did I mention we got catered breakfast each week and lunch once a month!?
But it wasn’t long before I grew to hate going to work. I learned quickly that captioning wasn’t going to be a lifelong job for me, and I applied to other jobs and open positions elsewhere but nothing ever came about. Every day, I’d grow so tired that I had to take walks around the block or nap for 15 minutes at my desk. I felt like I had no energy despite the fact that I never exerted any. I had zero passion for anything else. I began to feel useless — like I wasn’t actually doing in anything in this world for myself or anyone else. Worse, I couldn’t stop obsessing over one question — what did I actually want to do with my life?
I knew the answer but I wasn’t sure how to make it happen. I just wanted to be a writer.
But writers don’t have 9-5 jobs. Writers get to stay home or go to a coffee shop and work. They have freedom and somehow they get paid for it. But how could I be a writer if my book wasn’t published with a huge publishing company? I knew that I didn’t want to be a writer in the sense of working at a magazine or newspaper per se — that’d involve having a boss and going into work from 9-5, or worse, longer.
I can’t remember how I stumbled on freelancing. I probably googled, “how to be a writer.” However it happened, I’m thankful that I did. I researched for about 6 months before making the plunge into the freelance writing field, and a year after freelancing, I’m glad to say that I slept in this morning, and am now sitting happily at my desk at home, working on my own schedule, with clients that don’t micromanage me. I made my passion pay and I now love my job.
As kids we look at our parents working the 9-5 and we assume that it’s to be our fate too. And for many it is. Don’t get me wrong, I miss some of the aspects of a 9-5: discounts, co-workers, free food and coffee, and benefits like health insurance or a 401K match. But I was never and probably could never be happy as a 9-5 worker. It’s just not who I am.
I am a woman who likes to do things on her own time. I needed to make my passion into a career that would pay me well and give me the hours and the environment that worked best for me. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that some of us can’t thrive in a world with strict rules and guidelines. We have to find our own path, make our own rules, and find a way to do what we love — and still get paid for it.
No, my lifestyle is not for everyone and I’m not saying that it’s better than others. What I am saying is that if a 9-5 isn’t for you, find a job that doesn’t fit into that parameter. If you want to do something and it doesn’t “seemingly” pay enough, find a way to change that and make it work for you. You can live a full and passionate life, and that doesn’t have to involve waking up everyday dreading going to a job that sucks the soul right out of you.
Find your passion and make it work. If I could do it, so can you.