A life like mine annoys most people; they go to their jobs everyday, attend to things, give orders, pummel typewriters, and get two or three weeks off every year, and it vexes them to see someone else not bothering to do these things and yet getting away with it, not starving, being lucky as they call it.Muriel Spark, The Portobello Road in All the Stories of Muriel Spark, page 5, New Directions, 2001.
When I told a friend who was just beginning to dip her toe into the pool of consulting and freelancing that “the full time job is a vestige of the 20th Century,” she laughed out loud. Months later, she approached me and said, “you’re right!”
“About what?” I replied.
After an incredible job that came to a shitty end after the man in charge rubber stamped the sexual harassment of at least two women. My 27 year old self was clear that I could not stick around no matter how incredible the three years prior had been. I refused to speak with or even look at the perpetrator, I was so livid that I’m surprised, in hindsight, that I didn’t agitate or create more unease in the final six months. I had sought to get the harasser fired or disciplined but he got a paltry, bullshit type of give-you-a-pass reprimand and with that, I quit.
The 403b pension, the travel perks, and lest of all, the health insurance, we’re not sufficient to keep me bound to a job or employer. The camaraderie and relationships that were the utmost of that job were transferable and s on begging that I was clear that I could take with me.
Within five years of working full time, I saw that the myth of health insurance coverage either HMO or PPO, did not outweigh the loss of autonomy and therefore the likely loss of my own dignity by clutching to a job that I thought I needed more than I needed my dignity.
That set me on my lucky path to not pummeling computer keyboards and incessant meetings. I loathe the ass-kissing that plagues too many workplaces where people in manager and supervisor positions resort to odd if not petty factors to determine the appropriateness of an employee and their evaluations of an employee.
Once I began freelancing, I began to extract myself from the habits of meeting for sake of making sure that people were working and therefore not goofing off. That didn’t make sense in the early decades of the internet before social media. In my first years freelancing, I was regularly astounded at how much people in FT jobs were posting inane shit on social media throughout their day. And I noted that people in FT jobs were posting so juicy as they didn’t have the autonomy to go for a walk when their morning or afternoon had a short or long window of flexibility.
I have wondered how I would be different if I’d stuck to more full time jobs over the last 2 decades: my physical health, my submission to meetings, if reaching 65 for the sake of retirement would be motivating me to excruciate for 2 decades more.
I’ve been lucky with a heavy dose of being wise.