“Do you ever find yourself getting tired of having to find gig work?”
This was not a question that had ever been sent in my direction. . . especially at 8 AM on a Wednesday morning. The caffeine hadn’t hit my brain just yet, so I asked the Reservist what he meant. He went on to tell a story that was all too familiar to me:
“When I met my wife 18 years ago, she thrived in her professional field, and then she married me and the Marine Corps. Every two to three years she had to start from scratch again with odd jobs because no one wanted to hire someone who wasn’t sure how long they would be around. Emergencies would happen at home or with our kids, and she would have to leave work to handle it because I wasn’t around. Eventually her time and how little money she was making got the better of her, and she just gave up. She decided to bow out of the work force altogether and stay home.”
It felt like someone had hit me with a truck. I knew exactly what he was referring to, but the difference was that I was in denial about it. For as long as I can remember, I have worked. It has become a part of my identity that I enjoy. A few years ago that all changed when I went from doing work that I love to work that I felt lucky enough to find. Going from a salary to being fortunate to clear minimum wage is a demoralizing blow to your self-esteem and confidence.
How do we handle it? Are we supposed just to give up? Or is there some good that can come from this? There are pros and cons to everything in life, and this is no exception. However, there are ways to make it through the struggles and come out stronger on the other side.
You know what you want and do not want
If there is one constant benefit out of freelancing, it is the ability to streamline what you do enjoy doing and what you don’t. Chances are there are instances etched in your mind that made you miserable in the workplace. Know what those are, write them down in fact and proceed from there.
Look for work when you’re feeling on your game
Do not sit down to search for employment with the mantra “I’ll be lucky to find something.” Rather think that whoever gets your resume is fortunate to have the opportunity to see it. As you’re doing this, go back to thinking of what things you like and actually can visualize yourself doing. You will get back what you put out.
See the value in yourself
Self-worth is an incredibly powerful thing. If you see a trend of salaries lower than the standards you have set for yourself, move on! That is the beauty of gig work; it affords us the flexibility to be a jack of all trades.
Join a network
If there is one thing that we are not lacking its military support networks. Join your local InGear Career chapter to continue to get information regarding ways to stay marketable, advanced training courses, and paid employment opportunities. If there is not a chapter at your current duty station, create one! The value that this organization will bring not only to you but all involved is incredibly gratifying.
Accept the challenge
The same “let’s do this” attitude you have when you step out of an airplane, U-Haul truck, or car at your new duty station, is the one you should have as you start the next chapter of your career. It will be hard and, at times, you will feel like it would be easier just to give up (probably because it would be), but keep going. Don’t ever stop looking for short-term or temporary employment opportunities.
You never know when a small thing could lead you down the road of something great: A chance to advance yourself professionally, the freedom of a flexible work schedule, or even starting your own business. The trick is never to give up the journey too soon.
By Adriana Clifford