“You need to get a job.” This is what a good friend recently said to me. Totally out of the blue. “You need to get out of the house on a regular basis and get some structure in your life,” she went on to say. Anyone who knows me also knows those words are never the ones I want to hear. Structure. Job. What?
My friend said this knowing I’m a mostly stay at home (or coffee shop) writer. I like being able to roll out of bed at 7 am or 10 am, go to my computer or to the thrift store, research book marketing opportunities or harass the cat. It’s a flexibility and freedom I’ve enjoyed for years and would hate to give up.
When I was in my twenties, I took to calling myself a “lazy Jamaican princess.” Seriously. I’m not sure I if was the one who started calling myself that or if it was just an epithet hurled my way that I clung to out of spite. Either way, I thought then that my goal in life was to somehow have passive income, travel to parts of the world unknown to me (like the Grand Canyon or Sioux Falls, South Dakota), and have the occasional drink before noon.
Looking back on how I was brought up, those desires seem to come out of nowhere. My family of hard-working Jamaicans often look at me with puzzlement. Then I remember the first “grown up” I met who had the kind of life I fell in love with: she was a freelance accountant. I met her when I was twenty-two and impressionable, still trying to discover what this life thing of mine was going to be all about. When I met her, she had about four jobs. She popped in at a couple of lawyers’ offices and non-profits to do their books once a week or so, worked at a bookstore because it was fun, and took breaks during the middle of the day to get mani-pedis and pre-dinner margaritas. Through my eyes, her life looked like heaven. She had her own schedule, made money she seemed happy enough with, and was free. I may not have said out loud, “This is the kind of life I want.” But maybe I did.
Since that fateful meeting, I’ve had different expectations for myself when it came to my career and for my life. And those expectations changed even more after my illness and subsequent recover in my early/mid thirties. But, days after she said them, I couldn’t stop thinking about my friend’s words.
“You should get a job.”
On the surface, the idea of steady and lucrative work does sound objectively appealing. Even though I could live without the structure enforced on me by other people. So, after examining and reexamining what my friend said, I can assert again – even if it’s just for now – that I’m living the way I want. And regularly examining the way I go about in the world is a good way to keep track of my goals and level of happiness. I may not agree with what my friend said, but I’m happy she said it, and I’m glad I’m still lazy Jamaican princess enough to take it in the spirit in which it was intended. All love.
**Fiona is currently at work. The latest fruit of her labors – Rise of the Rain Queen, Bare Pleasures, and Luring the Lawyer – are available now.