Unbelievably it wasn’t a stern brown routing in the stationary cupboard that made me leave my sensible middle-management career.
Nor was it a perpetual treadmill of hard work that forced me to escape the barren grey planes of brain-haemorrhaging corporate tedium.
It was in fact quite the opposite.
For the final four years of my salaried employment at a major public sector organisations I essentially produced nothing of any value. That’s right. Fuck. All.
I’d clock in on time, sit at my desk all day and funnel the odd email. But my meaningless occupation as an analyst meant I became little more than an information conduit for other people’s efforts.
A yeast infection on a radiator would probably have achieved more than I ever did in my old day job. It’d have been happier too.
How can you be unhappy getting paid to do nothing? You may ask.
Well, given that you’ve chosen to read this superb blog and that you’re a discerning fan of the Human Freelancer movement I can surmise that you’re a clever little sod. You’re lucky enough to have a vibrant mind and a creative spirit.
Now, imagine sentencing it to imprisonment in a jail of your own making. Let’s call this ’employment’.
You’re doing what everyone expects you to do. What the school system programmed you to be: a somnambulant drone, conditioned for routine. You ought to have a responsible job. You ought to earn a salary. You ought to do what you’re told.
So you comply. You shut up, tap your little keyboard and live in perpetual fear of letting anyone down.
You make choices to satisfy what you think is prestigious in the eyes of your peers. You’re miserable. And what’s the response? You buy shiny shit you don’t really need to justify your salaried unhappiness. Take up some expensive hobbies. Save for a retirement you might reach if you avoid cancer.
If you’d have asked me how I felt at the time I’d have said numb. If you’d have asked me what the problem was, I couldn’t place it. I’d just tell you I was in a rut.
At the time, a lovely man told me I was in a depression. He was an occupational counsellor – a parting gift from my employer.
That was my first brush with learning what it was to be healthy of mind. Until then, depression was something your menopausal mother had, that time she drove you up to Pex Hill so she could weep in the car park.
In short, I was trapped in the global crap vortex.
I didn’t make or do anything useful. I was in creative atrophy, my sanity being slowly eroded by an economic belt sander. I was an expendable cog in a machine oiled with dog shit. And not just any old dog shit – that nasty stuff you were warned about when you were a kid that makes you go blind.
That is the reason why I left behind a well-paid, responsible job in middle-management
I was making a living by default. Not from my talents by creating useful things. They paid me for turning up, hollow as I was. And my values were caustically opposed to my choice of career.
And to cap it all, I was surrounded by overpaid, pallid career cunts called Toby with a ‘can do’ attitude to administering rim jobs for their corporate overlords.
That was the straw that broke this mammal’s knack.
So I quit that job, disappeared up my own arse for a year then ‘found myself’ and tentatively began freelancing – learning all the hard lessons you’ll soon be familiar with if you’re new to freelancing. Cue most of the sympathetic insight you’ll enjoy reading if you wisely decide to by The Human Freelancer book.
Hopefully that should give you a flavour of why I’m on this misguided crusade to rescue creative minds from unfulfilling salaried employment.
Because I’ve been there.
And it’s shite.
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