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Man in a suit

I have written here more than once about the fact that I resigned in early 2019. We are already in December, and I'm not yet engaged in any paid work. I still don't have anything to say that I put some hours in exchange for money.

By living this way, every time people ask me about my job, I find myself in a situation that is not so easy to answer. When I say I'm not working, but I'm not looking for work either, the conversation always gets more complex than the person expected when they asked the question.

In the end, people think that I'm on a gap year. Yes, year and not period. Almost as If I'm on this break, and then I'll get back to the old life right after. Nonetheless, I also can't say that this is what I am doing.

Finally, amid it all, a question began to catch my attention. Many times, when I get asked what my work is, people ask me what I do for a living. In both Portuguese and English, the question has the same form. Although I think it is even more common in English to ask this way.

It might be because I don't have a job, and I'm in a phase of life that many people have never gone through, but the question sounds strange to me.

And the truth is, I think I get a lot more out of my life now than a year ago – when I had a job. And I have a lot of answers about what I do for a living, but unfortunately, none of them answers what people are asking me.

It was hard before already

It has always been hard to explain my occupation or profession before I even resigned. I am a telecommunications engineer. My college course has a name that is used only at the university I attended and is more confusing than helpful.

I always joked that I could never explain to my grandmother what I was studying. She even told me that she would never really understand. So, since she wasn't quite sure what I would do, instead of asking for help with something I knew how to do, she would ask me for money. Yes, my grandmother is something.

Right after I got out of engineering, I ended up working for a company that supported Small Business. The company operates on all fronts that may be beneficial to this business segment. I ended up going to work on the planning team, where I did a little bit of everything.

Then, I ended up in an area of innovation, focusing on digital transformation. My mission in explaining to my grandmother what I was doing with my life was becoming increasingly complex. However, I always tried. Only now, where I supposedly do nothing with life, I have begun to look at the situation in a different way.

And now that I do nothing with life, what do I do?

Who knows that I am not working, approaches me asking how my routine is since now that I have nothing to do with life, according to the words I hear. Maybe this kind of question caught my attention because it bothers me the most.

When someone asks me what I do for a living, it is one thing. Another thing is when people already say that I do nothing and what I am doing about it. It's almost like if people want to know what I do with my free time, but mostly how I'm doing it to do something to change the situation.

And what I realized is that in so many situations before, and it still happens today, I end up playing this expectations game. I try to pick the best words to say that I'm not a useless person. As if I had to say somehow that I make something out of my life. I try to polish something to look more like a job. Do you remember when I tried to explain my work to my grandmother? Maybe it is the same behavior.

This blog itself, when it came up, seemed to give me some comfort in being able to tell people that I am doing something. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I still write to myself and some very close people to this day. I try to fight this urge to prove that I'm not wasting my time.

I don't want to write something I don't believe in to please anyone that is reading or using this blog as an excuse to fill my free time. It's something I still need to understand better in my mind.

Most of the time, I don't feel the need to give answers to prove anything. Indeed, when no one asks anything, I don't think that I need to shout what I am doing spontaneously. I also believe that with each passing day, I learn to get more from my life. However, that kind of question can still get me unprepared.

We know that is not all about work

People in bathing suits jumping in the water

To you, it may seem silly to be writing about a simple and harmless phrase. However, I think that the way we communicate influences our routine a lot. I know everyone knows that work is not everything, but most of us seem to live like it is.

Spending a lot of hours every week to get a paycheck seems too small to me. So many other people have a different lifestyle. I know that some of you might enjoy working many hours for financial reasons only. I do not doubt that. However, it does not fit what I want for myself.

When someone asks me what I do for a living, thinking about my work, it seems a very narrow view. It's not uncommon for someone to judge that I have no financial ambition because I left my job also. But for me, it's just the opposite. I believe my dreams have grown much more than I could imagine.

That's why I quit. I want to be able to explore not only the financial side but also my time, my skills, my relationships, what I can learn, where I can be, my peace of mind, etc.

I want to have as much as possible in as many aspects as possible and in a balanced way. Working more than eight hours a day and spending some more just to maintain this job, like commuting, seemed not very ambitious to me.

It is far from simple or easy.

I confess. That feeling of being far from the expected pattern of a linear career gives me a discomfort. The word I have used here to talk about myself – useless – is a word that sometimes resides in my thoughts. To this day, I don't have a clear goal to where I want to get. I know more where I don't want to stay. I have no idea how everything will turn out.

Not being clear where I want to invest my time while being fun and making me learn about myself, is uncomfortable. Is all this just an act of stupidity? Will I miss the previous routine in the future? I was just sick of monotony, and what's different today will be a boring routine tomorrow?

Some days are very positive. I have great experiences, I learn new things, I produce something – even if it is a blog post like this one – or I spent time being with the people that I like. These days give me comfort that no matter where I want to arrive, they are taking me to a destination that I will be happy to reach.

However, some other days, I feel that I just wasted them. I ended up procrastinating and spending time on irrelevant things. These are the days when doubts hit the most. The curious thing is that it seems that when I have some negative thoughts, I waste the day. It is not as if when I spend one day, and then I have negative thoughts.

Anyway, for now I don't have many answers. And the doubts, although they make me uncomfortable, also make me excited about the possibilities of the future - when I look carefully afterward, of course.

And now is not the time to worry about giving up anything. I have a lot to learn from this new process I'm going through. The discipline of compromising and let time take its course is what matters.

And if everything goes wrong? Oh, if all goes wrong, then I just need to get a job.

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Bruno Barros