Well on Friday my current contract is ending and it will not be renewed. I know this sounds bad, but really it’s OK. In fact, I am very pleased with how this whole thing turned out. I was hired originally for a one month contract and managed to turn it into a nine months of employment. Right now, I feel as though I have sucked all the goodness I can out of this opportunity and it is time to move on to new adventures. I have gained a lot from this experience and I am leaving on good terms with: a letter of reference, a stronger resume, and some excellent contacts.
Though now that my time of employment can be numbered in a handful of days I find myself having to comes to terms with “The Fear.” What is the Fear? It is a middle/working class fear, which stems from a belief that if you are not working than you are of little value to society. It constantly whispers into your ear that uncertainty should be avoided at all costs and that financial security trumps all other concerns.
To those suffering under the influence of this neurosis unemployment is a very scary thing. Intentionally taking a couple months off to pursue personal projects appears as either folly or selfishness. The Fear is a very pervasive thing and I am not immune to its clutches.
Meanwhile, the rich and powerful really don’t seem to suffer from this affliction. Other people work “for” them or their money works for them. In fact, they don’t work that much at all. Their self worth is not determined by how they spend their day toiling. Yet, these people (who do very little) are admired by society. There is a contradiction here.
So why is the one class so desperate to find and hold onto a job (any job really) while the other class is unconcerned by this and is instead looking for opportunities to expand their influence and wealth even further while working as little as possible?
I suspect it is because The Fear at some point in our history was created by the wealthy to keep the serfs inline. If the serfs began thinking about better ways to create wealth (in all senses of the word) and pursued them they would be a threat to the Elite in two ways:
1. There would either be no sheep farmers, blacksmiths, retail workers, and Tim Horton’s employees or they would have to be paid higher salaries.
2. A new elite might be created, which would replace the old (as has happened many times in our history).
How do you battle The Fear? The key is in how you define yourself and in getting others to accept that definition. You need an answer to the question “What do you do?” because it is this answer, which will determine your place in the greater social order. Saying you are unemployed is a mistake. Instead define yourself by your activities. By this definition, I am a writer, a communications expert, and an investor. I am also a musician and I am considering becoming a director. Knowing when and with who to use what label is also important.
The Fear tries to box you in so you stop looking at new possibilities. It also tries to convince you that certain professions or individuals are smarter or better than you. This is all a lie. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Catherine the Great, etc. are/were not at all exceptional. They are just like you. Define yourself accordingly.