A friend posted a question on FB recently asking: “What do you think of when you see the word employment?” There were a few words that rushed to my cerebral cortex but only one came bolded, italicized and underlined – opportunity.  

Some of the other words included slavery, imprisonment, and sacrifice. Actually, those were the first words that came to life, but just as quickly conflicting words like freedom, and achievement popped up. Then it didn’t’ take long for “opportunity” to check in, and once it was there, there was no keeping it quiet.

Initially, employment brings a little (or a lot) of freedom. When I began working as a teenager, making my own money gave me the freedom to buy my own clothes, go places, and purchase items I wanted without relying on my parents. Later, my job afforded me the chance to move out on my own and live by my own rules. When I became pregnant out-of-wedlock with my first child I was secure in a job that allowed me to keep and care for my child without returning home to momma’s house. Eventually I could afford a car, a house, a vacation or two a year, and many frivolous non-essential items and experiences.have to work

So, you may ask, where did such words as slavery, imprisonment and sacrifice come from? Well, for one, my grandmother. She had many colorful colloquialisms, one of which was “Go to work slave!” Fast forward many years when my kids are grown and my body is creaking and I look back and see that I’ve spent all of the money I made over so many years. Now the economy is not doing so well and the mortgage is cutting into vacation funds and I NEED to work simply to maintain what I already worked so hard to achieve. Those mornings when my body begs for more sleep or those afternoons when I just don’t want to think, let alone work, those evenings when I can barely stay awake long enough to eat, those are the times when I feel constricted. When the sun is shining and I just want to play or I want to work in my studio, spend my days painting and creating but can’t afford to blow off work, I feel trapped. When my entire paycheck is obligated to bills I’m frustrated by my dependency to my job. Now I know what grandma was talking about.

But wait here it comes again – that word opportunity. Employment gives me the opportunity to learn new things, things I probably would not look to learn on my own. OJT is invaluable. Also, being employed introduces me to new people every day. It teaches me to be multi-cultural as I am exposed to the diversity of my coworkers and our clients. And when I meet new people inevitably I meet someone whose interests match mine and we become friends. Sometimes I meet people who know people who can further my education, offer me better employment or invest in my dreams.

Speaking of which, being employed gives me the opportunity to dream freely. I can work at my own small business part-time until the opportunity presents itself for me to move forward on my own and experience the freedom of being successfully self-employed. And having that dream is what makes me show up every day to a job I don’t necessarily want to go to, until I can answer the knock I know is coming.

Go to work slave. And keep an eye and an ear open for opportunity!

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