I finished my job last week. Like, you know, not going back kind of finished. I’ve been working in libraries again, this time at a school. The end of the school year came and I decided that I would, well, ‘resign’ makes it sound much more dramatic than it really is, but I suppose that’s what I did. Anyway, the upshot is that I don’t have a job.

I think I might have retired from libraries. I’m not sure, but it feels that way at the moment. (future employers, please don’t read that last sentence, okay? Obviously when I tell you yours is the job of my dreams I mean it. Okay?).

There were all sorts of reasons that I decided to leave the job, but in the end they all boiled down to the same thing: my heart wasn’t in it. I mean, I liked it – much of it I loved – and I did a good job and I put myself into it and I was sad to be leaving it.

But at the same time there were other things I wanted to be doing that weren’t getting done. My novel for one thing. And other writing things I want to do. I can’t write them until I finish the novel manuscript. My study. I’ve got a thesis due at the end of October and I don’t see the point of going back to study at my stage if I’m not going to do it properly. There was all of the stuff about being the kind of parent I want to be. The Floppy Adolescent will be leaving home soon and I want to spend more time with him because it’s true that adolescents are unpredictable beasts, but they are also spontaneous and fun and make jokes that only adolescents make. Friends. I like to be a good friend. I like to spend time with my friends and I like them to be able to ask me for things if they need them. And then in this strange limbo-life that all expats lead to a greater or lesser extent the house as a whole was missing the flexibility of my freelancing life, and that’s going to become more and more of a thing as the Floppy Adolescent moves ever-closer to Young Adulthood.

It was odd, because for so long I’d been convinced that going back to work in a traditional work-way – with a desk and colleagues and a daily start and end time and a regular salary – was going to help me find my equilibrium. That being able to answer that question, ‘What do you do?’ with a definite answer rather than, ‘Oh, well, I don’t know, I don’t do anything much’ would help me to feel that I had a place in the world. Somewhere to go and someone to be when I got there.

For a while having a job did do that. It was good to be part of something bigger than myself and to spend less time in my own head. Plus, matching kids with books is a pretty nice way to spend a day. But I could tell that if I’d stayed it would start being counterproductive to my (constant) search for equilibrium. That I would start to hate getting up in the morning and would be consumed by all of the things that I couldn’t do while I was going to work. And I wouldn’t be doing a good job then. I wouldn’t do a bad job – I’m an earnest, eldest child and I’m nothing if not conscientious. But I’d always have half a mind on something else. It would be a churn.

I do know how fortunate I am to be able to make this decision. I’m fortunate that my partner earns enough for the four of us not only to live on, but also to be able to make choices like this. More fortunate still, I married a man who means it when he says he values me and that he believes writing a novel that may or may not be published is a good way for a person to spend her time. I know how lucky I am.

For a few days it seemed like maybe I’d made the right decision in that ‘this was meant to be’ kind of way because it looked like I might have one of my best freelancing clients back. One door closes another one opens. I don’t know why I still let myself believe that kind of stuff because that door closed almost as soon as it opened and for one reason and another it didn’t work out. So I’m freaking out a bit about no income in the immediate future. As much as I reconciled myself to the financial disparities in our incomes a long time ago, I’m bothered that I’m making no financial contribution at all, plus however much I tell myself not to be worried by it, the lack of financial autonomy plagues me.

But overall I know that I’m on the right path. Somehow or other the strands of everything will be woven together. Oh, look, a cheesy life’s big tapestry metaphor to end.

6 thoughts on “Resigned”

  1. plus however much I tell myself not to be, the lack of financial autonomy plagues me.

    Yes. I agree. Even though in many ways we would do better if I wasn’t in paid employment. So I work in paid employment, in a job I’m not quite sure about, because of reasons like your reasons.

    You will make it all work. Because that’s what you do.

    Also, I’m very much hoping that the writing will work for you, because I’d very much like to read more of your work.

    1. Gah! Reading the quote made me see the mistake I’d made – I’ve never been good at proofing blog posts. Why not? I’m a great proofreader when I’m doing it for work. And doesn’t it show the grass is always greener – these last couple of years I’ve been such admiration at how cohesive your life looks with all of the parts all fitting together.

      Thank you for being so very supportive of my writing.

  2. Financial dependency does have its downside, no doubt. But you have skills and an employment history. You aren’t the sort of dependent that is dependent, if you know what I mean. You know you could find paid employment if you had to. But you have valid reasons to be focusing on other kinds of work now. Novel-writing, parenting, studying… none of these are lazy occupations, and they all have value. The way I see it, you’ll still be working at least a few jobs, but your income will decrease for a while.

    And I really hope you do complete that novel! I loved Black Dust Dancing. You’re a gifted writer, truly. I will eagerly purchase anything you get published!

    1. Though you know I’m really feeling my age – I was one of the oldest on that staff. Which is partly a function of the international context which does attract young people.

      Thank you for saying such lovely things about my writing. You don’t know how much difference such things make.

  3. When I was forced to give up paid employment I discovered I had been defining myself by what I did for money. A mistake.
    And Ellen is right. You are still working, and working hard. On a range of creative and productive things.

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