A thought hit me the other day. They do that sometimes and it hurts. The thought was: What happens if I lose my job? What if my clients up and bankrupt or replace me with a bot overnight?* What would I do then?
I get these pangs of irrational anxiety from time to time but this time there was something different. The thought did not actually frighten me. It didn’t frighten me one bit.
One big reason for this, of course, is the fact I have the luxury of being one of two bread earners in the family. You could make that three if you include Cat’s getting her first offer for a painting, which she refused because “Then I wouldn’t have the painting”, which just goes to show how clueless artists are.
But the other reason the thought of being out of a job did not frighten me was that I immediately had an idea what I would do with my time. It wasn’t “I’ll just start looking for another job.” In fact, I didn’t even consider this possibility at all, which just goes to show how clueless writers are, too.
I thought I would have the opportunity to write full time and take better care of this blog. I thought I would really and truly write what I want to write and nothing else.
So, why not just do it, a reasonable person would ask. Why not just up and quit and write fiction and blogs full time? Well, for starters I actually love my job for the most part and I also like the income it provides. But quitting jobs and striking out on my own was not the point.
The point was the thought of being out of a job did not cause horror-induced palpitations and a sleepless night. And this, my friends, neighbours, and lovely strangers, meant that I had changed my perspective on life. And I must say I like the new one a lot better than the old one.
It all happened naturally. Twenty years ago I was as confused and full of anxieties as any other twenty-year-old. But two decades featuring parental death, sibling resentment, regular and extensive run-ins with general human stupidity, the shockingly unconditional love of another human being and, ultimately, the creation of a whole new human being can go a long way towards changing someone’s perspective.
I won’t say this change is easy. Of course it’s not, no good thing is ever easy. But it’s relatively simple to go from “The whole world is against me and nobody understands me and life sucks and I can’t do anything about it” to “I’m still standing, life can only get better”.
It’s all about rearranging your priorities. It’s about waking up to what’s really important and what only poses as important but is not. I advice referencing the Maslow pyramid for what’s really important and what’s not. Hint: winning a political argument on Twitter is not. Having a pair of functioning lungs is.
Once you can distinguish between important and insignificant life becomes full of opportunities. All the cliches along the lines of one door closing and another opening are true. All you need to do is see them for what they are and pick the right ones for you.
But, someone could say, it’s easy for you, it’s easy for writers. Or graphic designers. Or programmers. Or any other freelance-ready profession. Well, it’s actually not necessarily easy because the competition is massive and there are a lot of junk opportunities.
But there’s something else and it’s a secret: every one of us can do more than one thing well. It doesn’t have to be a “professional” thing like design or, I don’t know, pot-making. It could be a hobby you could turn into a job. Yes, another cliche and also true. After all, cliches are cliches for a reason and the reason is they are overwhelmingly true.
The second and more important pat of the secret is to do what you love, yet another cliche. Doing what you love makes it a lot more likely that you’ll be good at it and it also makes you healthier because doing stuff you hate makes you sick.
The amount of ways to earn a living today is truly staggering if you think about it. Hell, kids are earning money by playing games online. So when you feel stuck in your job, find that one — or more — thing you’re equally good at and make it your job. I told you it was simple. Not easy but simple. The world is full of opportunities waiting to be taken.
*My clients are nowhere near upping and bankrupting or replacing me with a bot, I am truly pleased to report.