When it comes to work, I think we can possibly divide workers into two categories: those who feel safest working for someone else, and those who prefer to be self-employed. Actually there might be a third category: those who would prefer to be self-employed but are a little too nervous to try it.
I fall into the second category. I have so many ideas, so many things I love to do, so many dreams, that it is best for me if I am self-employed. I think I read somewhere, and I totally agree with this, that artists (which included musicians, writers, and other creative folk) need lots of unstructured time. Creative people can’t actually create forty hours a week. They usually need time to putter, walk, read, dream, get inspired. There need a balance between that fertile “void” time and the active creative time. Creative people are usually a good balance between yin and yang energies.
Now I am not only an artist. In fact I am only occasionally an artist. But everything I do seems to require that percolating time. I am definitely not cut out for sitting at a cubicle all day long! (Is anyone, I wonder?!)
There are, of course, some downfalls to being self-employed. The most obvious is that unless one becomes wildly successful, there are usually periods of time when the money is just not flowing. The second is, generally speaking, society frowns upon your choice. Unless/until you are as successful as a Stephen King or a Sarah Maclaughlan or a Meryl Streep, people generally don’t respect or understand your choice. In this culture, it seems like the ONLY acceptable choice is to work for someone else. Many people would rather see you work at McDonald’s than be self-employed. Unless you’re rich and famous, you’re looked upon as rather un-American for going the self-employed route. (Because of course it’s almost impossible to be “successful” if you’re self-employed, and financial success is generally the only thing that “counts” in this culture.)
So it takes courage to choose to be your own employer. Especially if you’re single. When I was married, I was self-employed as a massage therapist. My husband’s income was the back-up plan if things didn’t go well. (Incidentally, I just stumbled upon my financial records from those years, and I was doing pretty well! I was actually making more money then than I was in some other “regular” jobs I had later!) When we split up, it was so much harder to make a living. People who have been coupled for a long time have no idea how much harder it is to make it financially when you live alone. There is NO ONE to help with the expenses.
Anyway, fast forward to 2011. I had a wake-up call (as most of my friends are probably tired of hearing about.) But there is something about the word “cancer” that does a really good job of shaking up one’s life and catapulting one into the realm of “what’s important.” I, for instance, found out I just had to take some time off from the workaday world. I was too un-centered, too off-balance, too… freaked out to spend large amounts of time doing something that wasn’t meaningful. And I absolutely could not handle any extra stress. I was able to take off only because I found dear friends who let me barter my rent. That was a gift beyond compare. I will be forever grateful to Barb and Phil for giving me space to figure out my life.
It took me several months before I got some clarity. Or actually it would be more accurate to say it took me several months before I gave myself permission to do those things I was being called to do. EVERYBODY, it seemed, wanted me to have a “real job.” But over and over and over and over I got the message that I was supposed to be working for myself doing those things I most loved to do. I know there are certain things I am meant to be doing in the world. They include, and are not limited to: writing; art; teaching/speaking; (my own form of) ministry; leading workshops, groups, and retreats; and some healing work. Perhaps there’s a job out there in which I could do a couple of those things, but all of them? No. I need to work on all and each of these things as Spirit leads.
I believe the Creator has a special place in His heart for creative types. S/he understands the joy of creation. Creator doesn’t care about how much money we make. Like any good parent, Creator cares about whether or not Her children are happy.
To do what we love is a blessing beyond compare. One of the things I most wish for the people of this planet is that EVERYONE gets the privilege and joy of doing work that they love. If we can support one another in following our dreams, I do believe we would have peace on Earth.
So be it.