Recently both my psychologist and one of the guys who works at my gym have commented on how much happier I appear; that there is much less rage emanating from my presence. This makes me happy.
I know that when I started this blog I said ‘I will never get a job’ – but I’m sure you all knew that that was a bit of an oversimplification. I was (almost) completely unemployed for about 4 months (Nov-Jan) but then two things pointed me towards some sort of money-brining-in-arrangement:
1 – in a capitalist (or any really) society one cannot exist without contributing to the machine (e.g. working) and getting something in exchange (e.g. money); and
2 – I was starting to go a bit peculiar spending a lot of time alone in my house.
The problem with being largely directionless is that there is no external motivation to achieve things. There are no deadlines or commitments to juggle and so you (or at least I) end up procrastinating the whole day sitting on your ass in front of either computer, tv or both. It also didn’t help that I didn’t have any money to go out and do ‘exciting’ things like eat out, or see movies, or go to galleries etc.
So I started applying for jobs; I applied for all sorts of things, all part-time; recruitment, HR, office temping, reception, hospitality, child care, call centre etc. I had a few interviews for HR/office jobs and to be honest they all sounded kind of awful. I didn’t really want to go back to the office world where people earning $100,000 + complained about not being paid enough – that and the obsession with full time work as the only viable option sounded horrible. As it turns out I was not offered any of these positions; maybe they new that I wasn’t really in the cult of the office worker, maybe they could smell the hippy from across the desk, or maybe there are just way more people out there looking for part time jobs than there are jobs.
The job I ended up being taking is 4 days a week in a canteen in a school in Melbourne. There are a few cons such as having to stand all day and getting minimum wage but there are a lot of pros to this job: I make coffee and sandwiches, I chat to the teachers and the kids, I finish by 3.30pm, I get free food and I get school holidays off! The biggest pro for me however is that I don’t spend the day watching the clock tick down until home time, I smile a lot and I look forward to going to work*.
I have never thought of myself as being money driven and I was always of the opinion that you spend whatever money you get in no matter how large or small the wage. When I finished in HR I was earning a pretty decent wage but I was also spending most of it and I was miserable.
I have found that the exercise of stripping back all the layers of stuff I was buying but didn’t need and trying to function on the barest of minimums has forced me to look at my buying habits. I don’t have the money now to buy random stuff, so every time I want to I have to think: am I buying this because it’s there, because it is marketed to me, because I can or am I buying this because I am replacing something that is worn out or something that I really actually need (in a utilitarian way)? It’s kind of hard in the beginning to try to rationalise every single thing you buy but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty empowering.
I buy things because I need them; food, toilet paper etc. I buy things because I need to replace something; my pants are worn out so I need a replacement pair. I buy things from op shops because it’s cheaper and greener. And if it’s not one of these things, I basically don’t buy it.
I feel like the decision to step out of the rat race, the career oriented, money hungry office job market has allowed me to take a step back from the ‘you need this product to make you cool’ mentality. It makes me much more conscious about where my money goes and much more aware that it is a finite resource that I should try to spread as far as possible.
So what am I actually saying? I am so much happier being poor. I didn’t realise I was miserable but I was. That’s really what it comes down to. I am living for me; I am working to live not living to work. I am taking charge of my life and making the system work for me, instead of becoming a cog in the machine.
Oh and I’m back at uni, but that is a story for another day.
*getting out of bed is still not my favourite but once I’m there I’m all good.