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Working For Myself

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I was always told that working for myself was a far better option than working to make money for someone else. And I am now working for myself. It is tough – much tougher than working for someone else because nothing happens unless I make it. 

And, although I am not working to fuel the greed of ‘big business’ or fund someone’s personal delusions of grandeur, I do still work for someone else – my students. And most of them still work to feed the insatiable demands of ‘big business’ or someone’s personal delusions of grandeur. This makes my working day most varied and passing strange.

I go from university canteens or cavernous common rooms to the hallowed offices of the managing director; from cold meeting rooms in glass-fronted subsidiaries on soulless industrial estates to the lounge in a shared flat – “just until I find a house.” I teach people at 6am and at 8pm; I battle traffic on the M6 at rush hour, or I drift down country lanes, burgeoning magically in the spring. I’m paid hourly in screwed up grubby notes hauled out of back pockets, weekly IOUs and monthly electronic transfers. I teach from dog-eared manuals and crisp new exam guides; I teach and coach, mentor and listen. I sit with lonely people needing to talk, people desperate for help to pass exams, people frightened of being in an unfamiliar country and people using their hour as a refuge, ‘me’ time. I am become ‘many things’ to a lot of people.

Practically, I won’t be able to retire early; I may eat beans on toast, drink cheap wine on special at Lidl and have deferred my many dreams, but as far as life experiences go, I have found ‘Eldorado.”


8 responses »

  1. Beautifully written. Your students are lucky to have you!

  2. You really capture the life of a freelancer. Speaking as somebody who started out as s freelancer in Germany, I can report that going from working for yourself to working for somebody else is also a difficult transition.

    Beautifully written too.

    • Hi Chris
      Thank you, Chris. Good to hear from You. I have to say, that if I was offered my old job back, I’d laugh and laugh and laugh. They could pay me my weight in gold bullion and I wouldn’t go back. Perhaps another organisation, or a different employment sector. It must be the independent streak me!

  3. Great summary of my situation too. I’d only change “retire early” to “retire at all”.

    • Hi Alex! Nice to see you again. I will probably have to amend too! Was supposed to retire this year – ain’t never going to happen. It’s a comfort to know there are a few of us chugging about doing this mad thing….. I try and see the advantages and I can when I don’t have to face the bank account!

  4. The thought of retirement utterly creeps me out. I intend to keep clogging on until dementia makes clogging on unfeasible.

    • Hiya Steve! Yeah – I have days when I’m not scheduled for anything and the time hangs very heavy. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s only a day and no ‘long-term plans’ have been made, or if the time would be heavy anyway. I want to get to appoint where I dictate when, where and how much….. dreams deferred as previously mourned….


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