Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Jobless, stay-at-home

I used to have a job some time ago, PA's job to a President of the multinational company, big responsibilities, not so big money, nothing much interesting, everyday the same routines, just another office job that needs to be done and I just happened to be there. I remember more and more responsibilities added to my list, tasks of other people who got sacked - it was cheaper that way for the company. I remember ideas of extending my working hours to irregular, but without any benefits. I remember almost becoming everybody's PA because they all knew I wouldn't say no to their requests, and when I finally did, they were all surprised and confused as if their world suddenly collapsed. I remember doing others' jobs while they were collecting praises for them.

I remember getting off the bus near our company's building every morning and screaming inside, I remember the state of nervousness on Sunday afternoons when the weekend was nearly over and I knew I would have to go back to the office next morning. I remember in my sixth year in this job having eating disorders, vomiting and the suspected stomach ulcer disease - that's how my organism reacted to my office job. I remember having a handful of pills first thing in the morning for about three months, when...

I got sacked.

It was the last day of January three years ago, and it wasn't just me - the company decided to introduce the new savings programme and lay off most of the long term employees (5 years and longer), because they could take new workers and offer them smaller payments (the girl who worked in my position after I had left got a salary half of what I earned!).

Because it was the general lay off programme we all got very good financial terms of leaving, so we payed off our debts and after some debate and calculations Robert decided that if I don't want to go back to another office job I don't have to - I may stay at home and concentrate on my crafts and on housekeeping (which I like very much). Several months later we opended our gothic apparel&accessories shop, then I started to make things and sell them through different on-line galleries. I cannot tell that we can afford everything but we lead a happy life, and have I mentioned that I stopped with any ulcer pills after that January? ^^

But there is always a 'but', right?

Yes, there is.
My family went crazy just after I lost my job, and they at first didn't even want to believe that I wasn't going to look for one (especially my mom, Robert's mom and his grandmother). They never regarded my shop as something 'real', nor the fact that I sell my creations in other people's shops, and up till now somebody comes up with some office job offers which they push gently into my direction and wait for my reaction.

The worst thing is when I have such conversations:

' So, (there must be this 'so' at the beginning, as if it suddenly came to somebody's mind to inquire about what he is going to say further), Joanna, aren't you looking for a job?'
'No, I have a job.' I answer politely.
' What job?!...' the expression of a total surprise on the face of an inquirer, as if he suddenly lost his memory million times I told him about my job before.
'I have a shop with clothes and accessories I make myself.' still calm but starting to boil inside.
' Oh, that one...' patronizing look and smile, you could almost feel the imaginary pat on the shoulder. 'But I mean the proper job, in the office, or something...'

And at this point I really feel I could get up and leave the room with a huge slam of the door or at least describe how I felt when my stomach twisted when I vomited nothing but blood at the very thought of going to the office on Monday.

But I stay calm and quiet, because I know that they would not understand - these are the people who had they lives organised in a certain way - you are born, you go to school (elementary, secondary, university), you go to work 9-5 everyday, ect. I don't fit their image - I possibly have some job but I don't leave house everyday for it, so it's suspicious, I'm a stay-at-home but I'm not a stay-at-home mum, another incongruity ('why doesn't she have kids at the age of 32?', 'what's wrong?', 'why is she such a freak?', 'why cannot she be normal?' they ask themselves and me sometimes). There was nobody in our families that had any kind of a stay-at-home job (like a writer or some artist), so they cannot imagine this kind of life. They never stayed at home, apart from the times when women stayed with their new born children for a short period of time, when they were ill (they were never ill, as my mom once said, 'I don't know why you are ill so often (twice a year? during the big flu virus explotions?...), I've never been ill for 35 years of my work!'), or on weekends.

In this month's "Mirror" (Polish women magazine) I've read the interview with two ladies who several years ago left their jobs and set up the organisations called 'Maturing Of Roses', where they offer numerous workshops that help women develop different skills and talents, learn new things and find their own place in life. And one of them said:

'I've been following my own path for the last 12 years, and my mother still cannot agree with the fact that I don't work from 9 to 5 in some office. She thinks that I walk on the thin ice and that I'm jinxed, because nobody wants to hire me. This shows how strong a certain scheme is.'

I remember I got a call from the headhunter agency about six months after I left my office job - they offered me a position of the IT Director's PA and I said 'no, thank you very much, and could you please remove my name from your database because I won't be looking for a job from the ones you can offer me', and the lady at the other end of the telephone was stunned. 'But why?...' she whispered with the utmost horror and surprise. She must have thought I was mad, because I rejected the opportunity to be in the database and possibly get another better paid job, and another...

And I like it this way.
And even if I haven't found my own dream, my place, my vocation yet, I don't want to change it because my family feels uncomfortable with it.


  1. Wow, that's wonderful how you've been able to turn your life around. Good for you!

    But where's the outfit for today?? I love your creative ensembles. They make me feel like that gray suit dressed woman in the previous post, but anyway, they are inspiring!

  2. Don't let anyone judge you on the decisions you make in your life. Opinions are a dime a dozen. You do what makes you happy. This is all the matters. Life is much too short to be doing things that make us sick and unhappy. Creativity should not be stifled or kept down it should be free to do whatever it wishes.