FRANK TALK ABOUT WHAT WE DO WITH OUR LIVES

Entry #4 (2013)

“Bring us into your world. What is something about your work (past or present) that outsiders typically don’t understand? It can be something required by the job, something that happens on the job, something you feel about the job—but whatever it is, do not exceed 800 words.

 

I never expected to be taking a new career path at the age of fifty-five, particularly one that is the polar opposite of the accounting and administrative work I did for the last thirty-five years. But here I am, shaking legs and trembling hands, taking an unfamiliar journey with no clue if I’ll succeed.

I’m building a business around a hobby (here is where most people with any common sense will say, “Seriously?”). Better yet, I’m doing it with almost no capital, no investors and no day job. The general response at this point is stunned disbelief. My new business is making and selling knit and crochet accessories, wind chimes and kinetic mobiles from thrift shop finds, and note cards digitally designed by me. My marketing strategy is to saturate as many social media sites as humanly possible with likes, favorites, pins, tweets, posts and follows. No, really. That’s it.

Being creative comes easily for me – my family is genetically wired to be right-brained. My brother majored in music and is a talented musician and composer. One sister draws and paints brilliantly and the other is an amazing photographer. On the flip side, we were raised to play it safe – to have a “real” career. My brother is a lawyer, one sister is in sales and distribution and the other was in administrative support. I became an accountant and eventually the all-encompassing “administrator.”

Now, the goal of playing it safe is long-term employment, regular raises, good benefits, paid vacation, and a nice pension. Instead, I’ve had six jobs in nine years and was unemployed for two years and seven months during that time. I quit the first job because I was endlessly bullied by grown men and there was no one in management that would stand up to them. In the next job (my favorite), the company was sold before I was there a year. Fortunately, the new owners asked me to stay on. Unfortunately, the position was moved to Idaho after a year and there isn’t a salary high enough to make me want to live in Boise, Idaho. My apologies to Boise, Idaho. No offense intended.

Luck smiled down on me once again, and a customer I had through my former employer offered me a job that didn’t yet exist, a thirty-five mile commute (each way), and the joy of working under managers who were told how incredibly awesome I was and ordered to hire me before they even got to meet me. Yes, I was foolish enough to accept the offer. I surprised myself by lasting a year.

Four jobs down, two to go. It took over a year, but I finally landed a position with a reputable company, reasonable pay and good benefits. Sadly (because my stories are so entertaining), I swore in a court of law that I would not discuss the details of my exit.

Most recently, I was hired for a part time position, minutes from home, with interesting work and great co-workers. It eventually grew to full time (yay!), then shrank again (boo!), eventually disappearing altogether, which brings us back to the present.

I’m cynical enough to take “do what you love and the money will follow” with a grain of salt. Or a full shaker. I’m following the self-employment path in good part because the employment department – using their high-tech, computerized mathematical formula – determined that: 1. It is unlikely I will secure gainful employment before exhausting my benefits, and 2. There is a fair chance I can succeed as a small business owner.

So, here I am, making my knitting needles and crochet hooks sing, playing with digital crayons and paint, liking, following, tweeting, pinning, studying successful entrepreneurs, participating in webinars, and having a great time in general. Seriously.

***

Back to the other entries.

  1. Apparently I’m not the only one who has hop-scotched around in employment. Trying to find a pair of boots that fit is easier, sometimes, than a job which does: co-workers, clients and the dreaded ‘actual work’ can interfere with reading and day-dreaming something fierce (I’ve found). But our intrepid author takes a path less traveled to arrive at entrepreneurship solo. Good luck with it.

  2. I suspect there will be a lot of heads nodding when they read this essay. Good luck!!

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