I find that I have two opposing reactions to the realization that my MS means I may never work full-time again.
The first reaction is despair mixed with a lot of anger. How will I ever get anywhere in life now and why did I have to get this effing disease? Why do some people I know have amazing lives free of illness with tons of advantages (and money!) while I have to struggle AND also get MS?
Life is not fair.
I’ve studied Buddhism long enough to know that suffering is unavoidable. Illnesses like mine are often random. It feels cruel even though it’s not personal.
But intellectually knowing that’s true and really feeling it are two different things. And quite frankly I’m pissed off that I keep drawing the short end of the stick.
So that’s one reaction.
On the other side, I was waiting in line to return stuff at a store today and I had this overwhelming feeling of something pretty damn close to peace.
I thought about the fact that I didn’t have to wake up at 6:30 on Monday morning and go sit in boring meetings all day with people who didn’t like me (and the feeling was mutual)…and it made me smile.
I’m sure there’s a correlation between the not-getting-ahead in life and my desire to avoid unpleasant work situations. But the fact of the matter is that I am accustomed to working from home, much more so than in an office.
I find most offices banal, along with the people who work in them. I really don’t care what you were watching on TV last night. I don’t care about the new diet you’re on. I don’t care about how drunk you got or how epically you vomited everywhere as a result.
My last work environment was filled with a lot of recent grads who were still big into the partying lifestyle. And honestly I wasn’t even that big into the partying lifestyle when I was in my early 20s. I was married at 20, had my first kid just before I turned 24 and I settled into raising babies and making bread and soap and going back to school. I didn’t get my degree until I was 31.
As far as work places go, I’m far better suited to libraries. They don’t pay shit for part-timers, but it’s a nice way to get out of the house and at least the work environment suits me better. It’s quiet, people are more intellectual than focused on dumb stuff, and conversations are almost never about drinking until you puke. You can be brainy and bookish and nobody celebrates making bad decisions under the influence of alcohol, let alone naming the whole department accordingly. (No thank you, I am not like anyone’s drunk uncle and don’t want to be. Just because my kids are older doesn’t mean I now want to binge-drink as a lifestyle.)
Because my last library job had such weird hours and they had a weird policy of having to make up your hours for holidays (which was even harder to fit into their limited hours of operation), I couldn’t make it work with having to pick up the kids from school. But the environment was great for me. I’ll probably look for another part-time library job once the kids graduate.
So in the meantime, yeah, I have to find a plan B and I’m not happy about that. I’m still licking my wounds about not being able to work full-time, and my new realization scares me more than a little.
But I’m also surprisingly relieved and happy not to do the FT work life. There’s no perfect job (and freelancing certainly isn’t it) but you know, it really could be worse.