A few days ago my middle son’s teacher stopped me outside his class when I dropped him off. “I have a favour to ask”, she says, “Do you work?” Me: “No, I don’t work, why?” Teacher: “Can you help us on the school trip next week?” Well, it so happens that I can’t, because The Little Guy will be with me all day, and younger siblings aren’t allowed on school trips, for obvious reasons. But… “No, I don’t work”?! Really!? Is that the right answer Sara? Why did I say that?! I do work. The fact that I’m self-employed and work from home as a freelance writer doesn’t mean I don’t work. So why exactly did I say that I don’t?
Photo courtesy of Carin Thakrar Photography.
1. I’m fairly new to the job
It’s been a while since I left my last job – nearly 10 months, to be precise. I’m a Business Analyst by trade, and I was in that career for 11 years. Without a professional background as a writer, I must admit I do find it hard, sometimes, to accept and acknowledge this change of career. But now I am a writer. And to convince myself, I just have to bring up the argument that I do write. For a living. That means I am a writer and work as a writer. Yes, it’s early days, and I’ve not been doing it for that long, but it’s what I do now. I don’t do it as a hobby, so yes, I do work.
2. Working from home isn’t the same as working from an office
The fact that after dropping my children off to school or nursery in the mornings means that I can go back home and choose what to do (work wise) for the next few hours, doesn’t really feel like work to me. When you have a job, you get up in the morning, get ready, and you GO TO WORK. If I’m not going anywhere, does it mean I’m working? Well, I am. I’m not at home watching morning TV. Working from home is still working. Right?
3. I don’t have set hours
What looks like another leftover from the many years spent in traditional employment is the fact that when you have a job you’re expected to be at work at a certain time. If you’re not, you’re late (which may or may not be a huge problem). And you can’t leave before a certain time either. Unless you’re ill, or your house is on fire. If I don’t have set times, and if I can work whenever it suits me and my family, then it must mean I don’t work. But ha, you guessed it – I do!
4. My salary is no longer guaranteed
Or maybe I instinctively say that I don’t work because I don’t have a set salary? I don’t earn as much as I used to. And the mere fact of turning up for work (even if you’re feeling brain-dead from a night spent up with the baby) no longer means that I’ll get paid at the end of the month. Now when I feel brain-dead from having a bad night, and I don’t get as much done, I just don’t get paid for it. If I’ve not produced anything, there’s nothing I can be paid for. Does any of that mean I’m not working though?
5. The impostor syndrome overpowers the internal dialogue
Or perhaps this is it. Exactly this. I’m letting all the internal self-talk and self-doubt take over. How can I be a writer? I didn’t go to university to study to be a writer! Did I spend years in a career that involved writing professionally? I did, actually – not creative writing, as such, but writing nonetheless. Writing that I was very good at and that came really easy to me. So yes, a few brownie points for me there. I am ‘allowed’ to call myself a writer. Because I write.
“Yes, I do work”
It’s a bit annoying, frankly. Nearly a year on, when people on the playground or at my children’s school ask me if I work, I say I don’t. But I do. I’ve been writing on the MummyNatal and BabyNatal websites for over two years now. I regularly publish my work on the Huffington Post UK and on Parent.co. And I’ve written a number of guests posts on other sites (you can see some examples on my Work with me page).
I’m writing my first book, to help people who had a similar leg fracture and surgery to mine. And the fact that I have now written 86 posts on this blog has to count too! Plus, I spend a huge amount of my time reading and learning. About writing, marketing, social media, building and promoting an online business, as well as all the subjects I write about, like stress, mindfulness or decluttering.
So yes, I do work. I work around my children because I needed the freedom and flexibility that a ‘traditional career’ wasn’t able to give me. So I had to put my big-girl pants on, make a big, scary step and reinvent myself.
I work from home. But it doesn’t mean that my job is any less important, valuable, or rewarding than anyone else’s. So it’s about time I start owning this.
Next time, I’ll have the right answer ready. I promise.
Have you recently changed your career? Do you suffer from Impostor’s Syndrome? Do you have any experiences, thoughts, or tips to share?
Love this post Sara! Hope you’ll say yes I do next time!! 😛
Aww thank you Rachid! Nice to see you here! 🙂 Well, now that I’ve had a good rant with myself, I have to, don’t I? 😉
For me you have the opportunity to define it anyway choose.. Why call it work, maybe it should be call Joy, passion indulgence., purpose pursuit, Freedom enabler, you get my drift. Whatever it is, it only has the meaning you give it.
Great read by the way…
Thank you my love 🙂 True – it certainly doesn’t feel like work. I like ‘purpose’ – it’s definitely my ‘freedom and flexibility’ enabler, which are big values for me. But I still shouldn’t be in denial of the fact that I do do some work! 😉 It’s about owning this, right?
Salaam Sara! Amazing seeing your blog posts, I love reading them and don’t stop!
Would be lovely to catch up sometime, I know exactly how you feel too. I now have my own business and even till this day when I tell someone who works in a corporate organisation that I work from home and have my own business I don’t get the same initial value or credit until I throw in the facts and then they tone down 😂
Hey Deena! So good to hear from you! Yes, we definitely need to catch up! I’ll be in touch. It’s amazing how this post has resonated with so many people – love it! Glad I’m not alone! You should be so so proud of yourself! xx
I was scanning the various post titles in the #MainyLovesSummer link-up and yours caught my eye.
I worked as a solicitor but, for variety of reasons, gave it up and am now working from home doing some bits and bobs of freelance writing.
Like you, I’ve not had the nerve to give people a definitive description of my job. Yes I get paid and yes it happens to be my dream career but part of me always feels a bit stupid or ashamed. I was always wary of the, “so you were a lawyer and you gave it up to be a writer?” interrogation, but the truth is that writing makes me so happy. I’m on nowhere near my former salary but I’d rather do with less and be happy.
Like you, I don’t have any formal qualifications or experience in writing but did a lot of it in my previous job and things seem to be going well so far.
So…I’ll make you a deal…..I’ll start telling people if you will?!
Hi Jemma! You quite possibly made my day! Yes, please do start telling people! Not everyone will get it – some people won’t. They never will, and that’s fine – for a lot of them it’ll look like you were totally mad to give up a career in law to do something you love, you’re good at, makes you happy, and gives you what you need! But others will be so happy for you and think that you’re awesome and so so brave! My post had an amazing reaction on Facebook last month, so I have been telling, and it’s been liberating! So please let’s tell together. And I’ll be in touch directly so we can chat more! 🙂
Looking at what you have achieved and the wonderful way you write, there is no doubt about your ability and what you can put down on paper or screen. You are one of the most engaging writers around.
Oh Mainy, that’s way too kind! You’re so sweet for saying something like that! I want to give you a big hug!!!
This is a great post. I have had a non traditional career for 10 years now and I still struggle some days to describe what I do confidently and without all the disclaimers about how it is a small business, from home etc etc. Good luck with it all. I enjoy your writing. xo
Thank you Rebecca – what a compliment coming from you!!! I like that phrase “non-traditional career” and love what you say about the ‘disclaimers’! Someone also referred to what we do as ‘portfolio careers’. I like that, because we do a quite a few things, not just one! x