Back in May, I wrote a little post, which would become by far the most read and commented on post on my blog. It was called “Here’s How it is” and described how I felt about my contract ending and my ongoing battle with what I named “The Fear.” Many of you will recall my description of this neurosis:
“It constantly whispers into your ear that uncertainty should be avoided at all costs and that financial security trumps all other concerns… The Fear tries to box you in so you stop looking at new possibilities.”
It is a direct result of this neurosis, that people become trapped in jobs that they don’t enjoy, or put less time into what they feel is truly important to them. I’ve been there. It took a trip to New Zealand and several long conversations with Sterling to make me realize that working in retail was not something I wanted to do but something I was doing because I was afraid. The Fear had me firmly in it’s clutches. Afraid I wouldn’t get anything better, afraid of going back to school, etc. I got over it. I now have an MA and I have become one of the most employable men in the city. I turned down three job offers during this period of unemployment alone so much for the biggest recession of our time. (Though to be fair, Ottawa is a very safe job market).
I’ve used this creative period between contract time to write for (Cult)ure Magazine, play music and record a song with Dr. Bickerstaff (Jay you’re next on the list for musical collaboration), and prepare myself for directing one of Sterling’s plays. I’ve also spent a lot of time just hanging out in coffee shops reading books. Now the Fear has morphed into a different variation. I am afraid that if I take a job, it will turn into a 30 year commitment. I am now at an attractive pay scale, but many of the creative projects I intend to pursue take a lot of time, which are very difficult to accomplish during a few weeks holiday time.
I’ve discovered that I actually like contract work because it gives me considerable flexibility. I can work for 4-6 months and then take a few months to focus on writing, directing, music and fun. This realization is very important for me but it flies in the face of the way most people think. Most people take contract work as a means of landing a permanent job; however, I am now afraid of losing time for my creative projects and getting trapped again in a job. Admittedly, this time in a well paying rather than a poor paying job.
For these reasons, it is not without a few misgivings that I have decided take another four month government contract starting on July 20th. It feels a little premature as I was hoping to achieve quite a bit more during this creative period. It is,however, an opportunity to make some new contacts and get some different kinds of work experience. Fortunately, it is also just for four months and I will be able to pick up my creative endeavors where I left at that point. Yes, I can also continue to write reviews and articles during this work period to a certain extent. I intend to do that as much as I can, but spending the day at work on a computer usually means I don’t want to look at a screen when I get home. On the plus side, and part of my motivation for taking this job is that July and Aug. are very slow for this particular department and so I will be able to do some writing while at work during the “quiet” periods 🙂
The key to not getting trapped will be to focus constantly on what I want to do and have an exit strategy prepared. It is equally important to not be so focused on that exit strategy that I miss out on work related opportunities. I am successfully walking on a tight rope balancing these concerns for the moment; however, all around me is the chasm of The Fear. Sound familiar?