In some ways, it was inevitable that the fun times would end.
Like the unexpected end to a popular television series.
On an uneventful day, during an uneventful lunchtime. I made a concoction of salad and healthy food with my lowly budget. When an emergency meeting was called in the boardroom, I was already eating with no reason to stop. After all, this was normal practise to be eating lunch between 11am and 3pm. That was the nature of the job and my laid-back boss partnership were usually eating alongside.
Within twenty minutes the twenty years company had vanished. Still eating my lunch with a different side dish of disappointing emotions.
I knew it was the end for me. I never wanted to work in an office, although this was not billed as work. The work that happened, brought in money but the real payoff was the mingling of play at work. Nobody caught on that I had no idea what I was doing, it was just something I got used to. Owning up to creating a problem was not part of this profession. Blaming others was. But we were mostly happy to own up to messing up.
People felt sorry for us. They gave us money because they couldn’t believe we were in business.
In my gut I had to quit. Spiralling down like a shot-down war plane the inevitable ground speeding towards me and an era of hopelessness. To make it less obvious, I explained that I was on holiday, holiday from work. It sounded great and ended any depressing conversations about not being employed. Having been so successful, I now didn’t need to get up everyday and go to work. I was living the dream.
The dream lasted three days until I realised that the bills actually need to be paid.
In front of me was the prospect of working for another employer. Which would be my ninety fifth job since college. Looks great on a job application. Once the plan was to be a designer, in graphics, Interior and even digital media(whatever that is). I even got a job doing that but then they found out I had no clue but were too embarrassed to fire me, so I quit.
In all I had nothing to show for all those jobs. As for transferable skills, the only good thing I could think of was that I spoke English, which I failed at school. With bad spelling, poor report card from school and a joke qualification from a technical college that I once showed to a Japanese company, who rejected it. What was to become of me. I thought I had great potential. Then i noticed all these college leavers becoming my boss because they knew a few lines of computer code or used some software product. Some of them told me they too had no idea what they were doing. All i knew was, they were now my boss.
Putting all your eggs in one basket is a last resort. Keep your options open they say. But I had this feeling of inevitability. Bad things were coming my way. Despite what I thought was a huge effort to untwist the hand fate. My idea of a perfect life and the world’s pressure to conform came head to head in a job interview.
I sat in the boardroom of a massive company in the financial district. Now I was telling myself that this was my new life, resigned that I would now be working 7am to 7pm six days a week for the same pay I received ten years prior plus three hours on a train everyday. Feeling relieved that I survived the interview I sat around waiting on the job offer to come through, after all, I had offered my life for this.
Several weeks passed.
My motivation was to get the respect of family, friends and associates. It felt like a shallow motivator and indeed proved to be when I the email arrived with the all to familiar words ‘unfortunately…..’
I thought that would be the last time I ever had an interview for a job.
The reality came to me. I had just been playing all my life. Now that the big questions and tasks were piling up, I had nothing in the tank. No experience, no skills, no contacts. Nothing.
The job market is like this. You do the work, get the certificate, connect with people, move up the ladder. I never saw it this way. I liked hearing of those who got past the gatekeeper.
What did they do. How could I have some of what they have. But then was any of this really important. Could I not be happy without having to get up at 4am and home at 9pm.
When I searched online again, with different terms. It was like starting from the beginning. I could not use any of the tricks I used before. This was just a person looking for something to do. A place to find help, some guidance. I cannot remember what I was typing in and clicking. Yes, there were distractions, songs, movies and comedy I hadn’t seen for years but with the way I was feeling, I could push those aside and found myself remembering how my neighbour back in 1999 was earning money from banner ads. Enough to live off. The technique faded as Google came along and swept aside Alta Visa and other older search engines. I knew it could be done but the digital landscape had changed. Time for me to wisen up and see if I could educate myself in this new way of life.
This story is not ending here. I am still going through this process of learning and finding ways to make a living, without having to go back to a boss. I have now been self employed for two years. There is stress with this. I have to make more effort to produce income and do things to be adaptable. I have not made millions. I have not lost millions but this is an age of change. The norm of the future is leaning towards a more independent way of life. Sure we have many with employment contracts and many earning vast sums but now what I am seeking is a better quality of life. What I learn, I want to share. Should others have a similar back story, then I want to connect. Together we can help each other to create a new life. A life without restrictions. A life you love. Gosh, I hope this does not sound too corporate.