Okay, so I drank the work-for-yourself and work-from-home Kool-Aid. But now it’s passed through my system, and I’ve sobered up to the harsh reality of it all.
I believed all the rah-rah posts about ‘freedom’ and ‘spending time with your kids’.
I rejoiced in being my own boss, carving my own path and wearing my own PJs 24/7.
But the truth is I miss going to work and working for ‘the man’.
And I don’t mean the occasional pang. I miss having a real job like I would a limb.
Now I know some of you will be hissing “Traitor!” through clenched teeth. But before you start hurling mouse mats at me and driving me from the solo village with sharpened biros, hear me out.
These are just some of the things I miss about having a real job.
While others might have found their bum cheeks clenching at the thought of an annual review, I loved them. There’s a little Kate Toon from high school who still needs to know she’s doing well in class on occasion.
Now I have to pat my own back. And with my short, T-Rex-like arms it ain’t easy.
The stationery cupboard
Remember when highlighters and Post-it notes were ‘free’? When you could get all the staples you could… er, staple from the glorious stationery cupboard? When you could use one page of a notepad and carelessly toss it aside because you weren’t paying for the next one?
Now I use pens to the last blot of ink, and write on both sides of the paper. The environment may be happier, but I’m not.
I still remember those happy days when I could pop out for sushi, nip out for some Italian, or grab some noodles on the go. The culinary universe was just a hop and a skip from my cubicle.
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Now my lunch options include leftovers, toast and cereal because I’m far too dis-organised to actually buy nice food to sustain me through the week.
Who doesn’t love a harmless work flirt? Coquettish remarks about paper jams. Giggles over who used your coffee mug. Downloading viruses just so the cute IT dude would come to your desk and tell you to turn it off and on again.
Now my flirting options include my dog, my husband (who also works at home) and my decrepit postman. None of these appeal to me.
Getting paid for doing nothing
(Note to my previous bosses: Please skip this section.)
When I had a real job, I spend a large part of my time trying to do as little as possible. I gave myself countless mini-breaks with endless trips to the kitchen, the loo and the coffee shop just to relieve the monotony.
These mini-breaks probably added up to a few hours each week, but it didn’t matter because I still got paid for them. And I’d merrily clock off at 6pm and go home to have a life.
Now I fill every nanosecond of the day. I start early in the morning, and work late into the night.
As the meme goes, “Working for myself gives me the freedom to work whichever 70 hours a week I like”.
Ah, regular wages. Remember them? The freedom to set up direct debits with abandon because you knew the money would be definitely there.
And let’s not forget paid leave, sick days, expense accounts, cab charges…
It all seems such a distant memory now.
I used to buy work outfits. I used to coordinate my top and my trousers. I used to wear shoes.
Now I’m lucky if I change my PJs more than once a week.
I once cared about personal maintenance. I wore make up, brushed my hair and plucked my eyebrows. Not any more. These days my eyebrows meet in the middle—of my back.
Friday night drinks
Fridays used to mean something. Getting to Friday felt like an achievement, and as I worked in agency land it also meant free booze—and lots of it. A glass of wine would be deposited on my desk at around 4pm, and by 5pm I’d be dancing on the pool table.
It doesn’t mean anywhere near as much when your drinking companion is a dog and when you have to work on Saturday morning.
On the plus side my liver is happier.
There’s plenty more I could talk about—the birthday cake, the IT support, the free business trips, and so much more.
But perhaps I’m remembering it all with rose-tinted glasses. After all, there were also the hideous commutes, the unpaid overtime, the politics, the terrible bosses, and the relentless tedium of being a wage slave.
In truth, I could never go back to having a ‘real’ job. For one, I doubt anyone would take me on. Especially now that I’ve admitted to having all those mini-breaks.
Over to you
Do you miss anything about having a nine-to-five real job? Or are you happy being a soloist and working from home?
Please share your stories in the comments below.