The Great Cycle of Employment




– constant salary, usually direct-deposited to your bank account

– health insurance

– job security, because they can’t fire you without a marginally good reason

– a different physical space for “work,” allowing you to emotionally compartmentalize

– interaction with other humans

– vague sense of “being on the team”


– 83% of the time it is a soul-crushing, humiliating, festival of boredom

– mandatory supplication at the hands of an angry boss

– arbitrary invective from various other people above you on the pecking order

– dreadful commute

– no freedom with your life until the weekends, when everyone else has their freedom too, meaning long lines and traffic

– vengeful, humorless co-workers

– vague sense that life is passing you by



– freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want

– pick your own projects

– sleep in when tired

– usually involves an art form (writing, photography) you actually enjoy

– occasional windfalls of money from random sources

– vague sense that you are “getting away with it”


– constant dejection from failure to secure gigs

– pennilessness for vast stretches of time

– health insurance that only kicks in if you lose a leg

– not really taken seriously by the rest of the world

– exhausting follow-up calls and emails to potential clients

– vague sense that you want a “real job” after all

Go back to top and repeat.

0 thoughts on “The Great Cycle of Employment

  1. jane

    wow. with that list of gatekeepers, (the cons), you should never ever get a job. i guess it’s doom for you, my boy.

  2. cathie

    of course, it is possible to have a ‘real job’ that has all the pro’s of both of your categories, and none of the cons.
    i consider myself insanely lucky that i have a job that i can’t wait to get to, never want to leave, i would throw myself in front of a train for my boss, my schedule is entirely flexible and i get an overwhelming sense of joy and meaning in just about everything i do. plus i get a salary, health insurance, pension, and tax-free housing.
    i am saying all this because i believe it is possible to find your heart’s desire, how you are really called to serve the world, AND get paid for it on a regular basis. i am living proof.

  3. chris

    While I think the commentor above and three above has excellent points, and I would be loath to suggest that she make any changes in her professional conduct, it is my sincere but selfish wish that she never throw herself in front of a train for her boss. Even though he’s a pretty good guy.

  4. Bud

    The only people I know who love their jobs the way Cathie loves hers are these guys:
    Maybe it’s the difference between “a job” and “a calling.”
    Success erases all the negatives of freelancing. Do you really think Spielberg ever wishes he had a 9-to-5 ? Either way, job or freelance, the key is having a calling, and following it.
    In the short term, it’s easier to find a job; that’s what most of us do. Thus, the quiet desperation thing.

  5. Oliver

    Damn right about Spielberg. And do you think Van Gogh cut off any more ears after _he_ made it big? Oh yeah, he was dead already. Never mind.

  6. salem's little sister

    I start out each day with a check of the weather and a look at your blog. Cathie’s comment got me thinking about my calling and how I had seemed to have turned my back on it for a time. Tonight, who should walk in to my barn but a mom and her two daughters looking for riding lessons. One daughter was cognitive, the other was not. Two new students and one refreshed riding instructor. Love to you and Tessa. Katie


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