To be or to be something else

Scary ClownImage by elycefeliz via Flickr

As I got out of the car yesterday outside my sisters my phone rang. It was some guy who had called me a couple of weeks ago about a job he had going. He had heard about me somewhere and wanted to ask me a few questions. Mindful that I should be hedging my bets I answered his questions as I walked home through the rain. Yesterday he had one more question to put to me, and potentially a job offer.

I'm not sure how this should make me feel, but in reality I felt very little. It was not really something I wanted to think about, and so I didn't. I hung up from our conversation and went up to see my sister.

This is quite a common experience. At regular intervals I get calls or emails from people inquiring about my work status and about if I would be interested in this job, or that. Almost always I respond positively to them, if only because I don't want to rule anything out.

I don't want these jobs though, not even the best of them. When I find myself in serious contemplation of what is being offered me I feel somehow diminished, as if that way lies defeat. Why then do I even consider these opportunities? Because I must.

Working for yourself is a precarious existence, particularly during an economic downturn of this magnitude, and doubly so when you're just starting off. There are no guarantees, and no certainty. Thus far I've got by with bits and pieces, dearly bought with my time and effort. None of it is easy. In the meantime I've sacrificed a lot to be in the position I am today. Even if I get this project I spoke of yesterday that is just one thing, a thing that has to be repeated over and over again, and if I am to truly prosper, multiplied two, three, four times over. None of this is handed to me, everything must be worked for, even the smallest of opportunities.

Yet I enjoy it. On the upside there is great potential. The business model is sound, there is a need in the market for what I offer – even if the market doesn't know it yet. If everything hits the spot then I'll come out of this both very satisfied and pretty well off. They're good enough reasons in themselves to do what I do, but in reality the greatest satisfaction comes from being my own boss. I feel as if this is something I was made to do. It's not that I think have this great wisdom to share – I know my stuff, but most of it is common sense mixed in with a unflappable temperament and a dash of imagination. All I do is mine though, and as far as I can see in any direction there are no limits on what I can do – and that's who I am. I revel in that freedom, I was made to go my own way.

It's hard now I have a true taste of it to contemplate working for the man again one day. I am free, why would I want to be caged again? Well I guess the sensible answer to that is for the security and predictability a steady job provides. I know what to expect from a proper job, even if it is not what I want. As it is I don't know what next week or next month or next year has in store for me going it alone. Let's face it, there is every possibility that my venture will fail – then what?

And so when I get these calls I respond if only to keep the option open. There is that sinking feeling though. What if I must go back to that? How would I cope?

I don't know the answers to that. Could I go back to working within constraints again? That's always been one of my issues, as if I was in a box I struggled to get out of. I've always felt myself to be much more than the job description I was given, and willing to give a lot more than what it promised – which is often frowned upon. Could I tolerate my horizons shrinking before my very eyes? This is how much you'll earn, and no more, this is your career path, and no different.

This is my dilemma. It's sensible to keep an open mind on these jobs, but what if I get offered one? And yet can I blithely persist with my own plans hoping they'll come good? And for how long? Should I be sensible? Should I continue to dare? Should I back myself to the hilt, and beyond, or should I accept that some things cannot be?

I figure I'll have to find the answers to these questions sometime before Christmas. I know some things. If I must go back into the rat race again then I will do it with a jet pack on my back. You can fuck off your constraints, I won't be boxed, I won't be ambling along. And I'll need something for myself, I know that, if I am to become a job title again, a payroll number, then somewhere in the world I will need something with my name on it, all mine.

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