I'm an independent contractor. It sucks

The stress over where to get more money is constant.  Pictures / Getty Images
The stress over where to get more money is constant. Pictures / Getty Images

Every morning you check Seek, you check Trade Me, you check every bloody job site you can find and then you remind yourself of everything you're grateful for - that was my doctor's advice and it seems to help. I am a member of Generation X-Employed.

Now I don't have any fancy science to back up this claim, just far too many darkly hilarious chats over possibly a few too many beers. If I was to define us, it'd the the last gasp of the Boomers and opening overs of Gen X, overwhelmingly tertiary qualified, and all formerly part of now-dying industries. We don't really show up in employment statistics, maybe because we refuse to accept the reality of what has happened and register as jobless, instead we prefer to use terms like independent contractor.

And it kind of sucks. Again, maybe because we didn't see it coming, but also because it wasn't the life path we'd been sold as pups. Our parents and even some of our grandparents had careers. The kind that lasted a lifetime, the kind that forge your identity, the kind that become a central plank of your obituary. The trick, we were told, was to find one you enjoyed and, if you worked hard, showed loyalty and didn't abuse any privileges that might come along with it, you would be rewarded with promotion, more money, Friday drinks and a morning tea when you retired.

Instead, it turned out that the technology we craved to make our work easier ended up, in one way or another, going all Skynet on our arses.

And of course we're far from unique in this situation, what with youth unemployment and a constantly changing work environment, it appears that the employment window for future generations is narrowing. Having just one job will sound foolish, rather everyone will need a portfolio of incomes and short-term contracts. Well that's what I reckon anyway and it's the approach I'm trying to adopt. Okay, I've only got to two incomes streams, trickles really, but the dream remains alive even if I hate the hustle to death.

As a result I will cop to being more a work- than a job-hunter. Oh, I've applied for a metric truckload of jobs, but really it's like my turn was called and I didn't hear. Instead of having shown loyalty in my past job I'm asked if I'm institutionalised.

When I'm asked - if you actually get a response to your application let alone an interview-- why do you want to work here? Because I've got kids to feed and it'd do plenty to reduce my stress levels might be honest, but, well, you know. Then they always want to know about my social media game; I really don't like the rules - and don't get me started on the HR gatekeepers, there aren't enough walls to line them up against.

How it is that a bunch of nobodies get to decide who best fits the mould of a job they have no idea about has me beat.

Okay, I'm still carrying around some anger issues. It's my second redundancy, that's life, but the way we are walked out the door by people who then pat themselves on the back for a job well done is inhuman.

Geez, let it go, just let it go.

And you do, at some point, have to. The constant stress of where the next bunch of money is coming from is hard enough without lying awake over revenge fantasies. You have keep going. So every morning you check Seek, you check Trade Me, you check every bloody job site you can can find and then you remind yourself of everything you're grateful for - that was my doctor's advice and it seems to help.

Speaking of whom, don't be afraid of getting real help. I came close to a total meltdown when, on top of everything else, an old friend went into a hospice. So I swallowed some pride and now every morning I'm taking a pill I'll never be able to pronounce and hey presto, sleep is my friend again and I've recovered a smile. Which doesn't mean I'm drinking any less but hey, when you're an independent contractor every day is Friday.

Still, balance in all things, my mum says, so I've upped my exercise routine along with the guzzling, again, partly on doctors orders. If nothing else it means I'm not a total ruin at job interviews.

But something has to give. Until now I've stubbornly insisted on making a living from the craft I spent 20 years honing. Almost the day after leaving work I cracked into what I figured I should and began talking to others in the same boat. I put out feelers to people who might be able to help, I wrote my first CV in decades and started researching whom I could blag my wares to.

I just never thought it'd be this hard or all-encompassing. You end up thinking about work all the time, will this help, will this hinder? I'm tired of it. I'm even feeling paranoid about this story - there's no hiding from Google - along with pretty much everything I say on social media.

She'll be right. Even if only because it has to be, so I'm thinking about retraining possibilities and even the potential of getting in a housemate. It's arse though that getting a job feels like winning Lotto, and as I say, there are plenty of people like me out there. Hey, I know, let's stay the course, get through summer and start all over again next year.

- NZ Herald

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