With the relaxation of Covid-related restrictions there are many people asking the question "I want to work, but do I want a job?". This is generally not in the sense of wanting to become self-employed but hesitancy about returning to what has been a largely unhealthy workplace culture. In many ways going to work has felt like we’ve gotten spam instead of the ham we were promised. And sometimes it is not just spam but rotten spam. For those of with additional challenges it is even more daunting and risky.
Even before the current pandemic, job satisfaction was generally not very high, even among professionals. For those in general labour or less likely to be in a job they chose for an interest and extensive skills in the area, it was even lower. This has a lot to more to do with way workers are treated, and the way companies are organized and operated than with an unwillingness to work.
Speaking for myself, I have never had a subscription to Netflix, nor cable subscription (nor Android box or other ‘workaround’) for over 25 years. Perhaps I should have those so that I might relax more often, but I tend to be a workaholic and have projects of my own on the go, especially when I am not being paid to work because I find things like Netflix and watching TV and movies/YouTube etc to be boring and insufficiently challenging. It’s also quite rare for me to play games because I have a level of skill in technology (and to a lesser extent, blogging) that setting myself technical challenges and working on them is already like a game for me.
You might wonder, therefore, why I have not been employed or under contract and am in fact very hesitant about a return to such a scenario.
There are five basic reasons:
- A really terrible experience with previous workplaces, and having heard far too many people talk in a way that suggests workplaces are often unhealthy and unpleasant.
- Health (I take medication and have recovered from a crisis that was mostly the result of factors outside my control, but I worry about an unhealthy environment and/or expectations causing a relapse).
- Finances (Going from receiving disability supports to working is a very awkward and risky path. I worry a great deal about being in a position where I am worse off health-wise because I return to work due to lack of ability to afford medications and (especially) other medical expenses (for example, replacing my CPAP machine, without which I would be non-functional, even apart from the primary health issue)).
- Confidence, or rather loss of confidence in my ability to find and hold a job due to the issues above.
- Having to work on someone else’s ‘stuff’ on their schedule rather than my own projects on my own schedule could be depressing and frustrating, especially if it’s not something towards which I feel a great deal of affinity.
Despite all that I have started taking some volunteer shifts at the bookstore at Gateway Centre for Learning in Midland, Ontario, to get a feel for whether I am up to ’timekeeping’ and ‘office hours’ kinds of jobs, as being able to manage that creates more options for employment or contract work. I have also increased the amount of volunteer tutoring I am doing with Gateway (and I find it very rewarding). I’ve also been ‘paying attention’ to local municipal politics since 2018, although sometimes that is more frustrating than it is worth.
It is my hope that before this fall, I feel good enough about overcoming my concerns about returning to work that I have done a serious search and found something I consider worthwhile to either be employed doing, or have (somehow, however unlikely it might seem right now) found the wherewithal to start a business or non-profit for one of a few of my projects I think could support such a move.
Regardless of whether this happens, you can be sure I will be working on something, and continuing to improve myself and (hopefully) the world around me.
Credit for cover photo of a can of Spam sitting on top of a small log, against a background of grass and weeds: Brennen Bearnes, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication, via Wikimedia Commons