I’m self-employed, and a full-time clinical based health-care student – and professional poorly person. So I can’t stop thinking about work. When you’re by yourself, it’s easy to overwork yourself.
I’ve realized recently that my family (my mom & my bro) is full of people who work very hard. They all work extremely hard and they enjoy it. It took years for me to figure out that that’s a trait that was passed onto me.
When I’m working, I’m being functional and useful to someone, but I’m also making money to pay the rent. When I can, I like to work on personal projects because it gives me an avenue for self-expression – and to try and make change. I can put work out on the Internet that people might like and, by extension, hopefully like me. Which is secretly a lot of what I want from my work.
What I’m realizing is that there are other areas of my life that need that same sort of focus and rigor that I give to work & sleep. There are friendships and relationships and things that are every bit as important.
There’s half of me that is very proud of the work that I’ve made and where it has taken me. But there’s another half of me that knows that I live in Leeds/Sheffield/Doncaster and that I’m very privileged to already have a masters, be studying radiotherapy and making the work I’m making. When I was growing up, my mom worked 2 low-paid jobs – just to make rent. These days, she only works 1 low-paid job to try and make rent. No one ever told me i could or should go to university – because it wasn’t ever a thing, no one does that in my family. I just discovered it some how in the last year and half of school but my mom has always been so supportive of everything I do, she basically told me ‘Don’t just do something to make money, find something you love and find someone who appreciates you for it. And then try and get a job.’ Whilst she was drunk last weekend she told me to, “Try, take risks, fail doing stuff, because it doesn’t matter – this is always your home. You will always have a roof over your head. I just want you to be happy. I don’t care if you fail or get 100% – because you’ll get there — and I’m proud of you anyways.”
I’m always aware of where I come from. My friends parents know all about the league tables of the universities they attend, and their parents help them pay the rent. They come from homes with hot-tubs, and convertible cars. No one in my family understands the value of higher education. But it doesn’t mean they don’t support me – even if they think what I do (my art-freelancing stuff) “isn’t a real job” lol. But I’m also aware of where I am now and how I can help more people get to where I am. Maybe a little thing that I do can make a difference, even if it’s just very slight.
That’s probably a bit naive, but these are big things that sometimes need to be reduced so we can start to deal with them. A tweet, blogpost, whatever, isn’t going to solve the problems we have with inequality and privilege, but it might help us slowly move incrementally to something better than what we currently have.
Empathy is first an act of imagination. I know how difficult it is to get from one side to the other. But if we spent more time teaching, sharing, learning, listening — I think we could make something better.