• Daniel Wright

Self Employed or Unemployable?

Someone asked me the other day why I chose to work for myself. I think they assumed I'm unemployable and they might be right! It's true I don't play well with others. I'm not a people person and beyond family and friends, I prefer my own miserable company. Mention the word 'positivity' and my lip starts curling into a snarl. That never goes down well in a room full of buzz words and inspirational quotes!

I’m not a ‘Team Player’ and I never have been. Being told I’m part of a team always feels like I’m being nudged back into the herd by a smiling cattle prod!

I hate being told what to do or having to discuss my decisions and I’m terrible at accepting other peoples opinions. It’s not that I don’t respect them, it’s just I have my own way of doing things.

Back in the day when I first started working in IT support, it was clear I wasn’t cut out for the kind of top down structure that masqueraded as a team. There was always a manager or a team leader who had the final say and they rarely took into account the ideas and suggestions of other so called team members. Any idiot could see they were neither qualified nor well placed to make the right decisions and it soon became apparent that I would be the one held responsible when things went wrong.

In one instance, the deputy head of the school where I worked as the Senior IT Technician and Network Manager, made the decision to upgrade the schools network infrastructure without consulting me first. In his wisdom he chose to leave the only qualified person in the building out of the loop.

I didn’t even know it was happening until someone turned up outside my office to lay cable!

Hardly surprising when the shiny new infrastructure was not compatible with the old and it cost the school thousands to put right.

And whose fault was that?

Mine apparently!

Left to my own devices, me and my small band of clever social misfits could have upgraded the network during the summer holidays at a fraction of the cost.

Experiences like this and many more besides made me realise working for other people on their terms was not for me.

One Of Many Workplace Torture Devices!

I also have mobility issues caused by a long term disability. It makes getting to and from places more difficult and I can’t walk very far. I have trouble bending and stairs without hand rails on both sides can be a big problem. I also have to take into consideration things like chairs and how difficult it is to stand up and sit down. Over the course of a working day or a week, these things build up and leave me in pain and discomfort. This in turn makes me increasingly reliant on strong painkillers which dull my senses and render me incapable of carrying out all sorts of tasks.

None of these things are conducive with getting to and from a workplace or being able to operate to the fullness of my ability when I finally get there.

However, in the confines of the workshop I have built round myself, none of these things matter. My working environment might appear a bit ad hoc to the untrained eye, but it suits my needs perfectly. In my own world If a problem presents itself I find a solution. In the outside world of the work place if a problem presents itself there are people to speak to, procedures to follow, budgets to consider and an all round lack of flexibility.

So I choose self reliance and self sufficiency over reliance on others every time!

Normally I use a walking stick when I’m out and about but it gets in the way and it feels awkward when I’m at work. It also makes carrying a computer and my tool bag difficult. Thankfully I can manage the short walk from the car to a customers front door and back again without it.

The nature of my disability (I hate that word) is pain based, so it’s difficult to accommodate (another horrible word). Regardless of what the law says, it would be naive to think employers will employ or tolerate someone who regularly needs to take time off because they’re 'having a bad day'. It just doesn't work like that in the real world.

As it stands, I can choose not to work if I need to and I don’t have to explain myself to anyone.

The simple fact is, I hate having to ask anyone for anything and I find having to fend and prove humiliating. By working for myself (as fraught as it is financially) I get to filter out all the crap and just get on with the job I love doing.

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