Please don’t let me be misunderstood….Part 1

Have you ever been misunderstood? Have you ever had to “fight your corner” to friends and family who know you well but who just have a certain perception of you? Do you feel frustrated or upset? 

I’ve had two specific conversations this past week. Conversations I’ve had before with the same people over time. This is part 1…..

I work from home. I choose my hours, I’m my own boss, I do what I like and I’m financially independant. I have one main income and then I also have a sideline which also provides a smaller income. After leaving college at 18 I went straight to work full time as a Secretary/PA, locally then moved to London where I worked for some high profile organisations that I was privilaged to enter as an employee. I then went off to University for 3 years at 24 and while studying also worked as a secretary part time. I finished Uni and again, returned to work full time until I got married and had my son. I am divorced now and a single parent but I still work. My hours are not 9-5 every single day. Some weeks I only work for 3 days while I concentrate on other matters going on in my life (single parent responsibilities, POA admin of my mother who has dementia, investments I have etc). Sometimes I work all weekend too but however my working week is made up, I am financially independant and responsible, I pay my taxes and do not rely on anyone.

One conversation I had with a couple of people frustrated me, yet again. These people I love dearly know where I’ve been and my background. Casually discussing life over text / messenger / whatsapp etc they mentioned to me “well some of us have to work for a living” followed by laughing emojis. My tactic now is if you can’t beat them join them so I sarcastically said “yes my life is great watching tv all day, eating chocolate and scratching my arse!” They took it literally. “You should get a job, it’ll help you get out and about”. 

That comment came from a good place I know for sure. However, what frustrates me is this: when one Works From Home, “some” people (and I generalise hence the quotation marks!) just see that as a great life, sitting around in your pyjamas, watching daytime TV, maybe shuffling a bit of paper about. Well, the reality is that I have an office in my house and I can spend all day on the phone sometimes arranging appointments with professional bodies, doing on-line banking and making sure I am up to date with certain legaliities of my business which I could get fined for if not done. If I’m not at my desk then I’ll be in my workshop in my garden where vintage furniture I’ve bought I’ll upcycle, sand, paint, spray-paint surrounded by all my tools, paint pots and furniture hanging off the walls. 

I’m just a soul who’s intentions are good

Oh Lord, please, don’t let me be misunderstood

Nina Simone: Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

The point of this blog though is “generally” people are sheep. Over the years I have discovered that if you are not following a specific route of life paths then you are “eccentric” or “irresponsible” or “weird”. After College and going straight to work I was asked “why aren’t you going to Uni?”. I went to Uni at 24 “why are you going so late?! This is ridiculous!” (this comment was made by a close family member to me!). After Uni, I went straight to work, “why aren’t you training now to be a teacher or a journalist?”. When I mention I work from home and tell them what my main income is and my sideline income is I’m sometimes met with a glazed expression and an “ohhhh……don’t you miss proper work?”. Afterwards I have met these certain people again and they are indifferrent to me or avoid me and I am told by friends that “they just don’t really understand you”. I also once had a boyfriend who, on ending our relationship, said the same thing to me “I don’t really understand your lifestyle” because he had a 9-5 in an office which was great but my life was working from home with other fingers in other pies. 

I’ve discovered that people like to put you in a category. “Oh she’s a nurse”, “….lawyer…..”, “Financial controller in the city…..”, “she’s a teacher….”. They know where they stand with you. They’ve categorised you, you’re normal! With me, I have a job that enables me to work from home, plus a sideline job and I’m a single parent so have parental responsibilities and then I have financial commitments that I also need to handle. What I’m not is someone you can put in a tickbox though and I’m proud of that. I don’t want to be a sheep, I don’t want to follow the crowd or “fit in”. I used to proudly wear crazy Dame Edna glasses to school when I was 13 and the teachers told me I had to get them replaced with something more “normal”. I overdress when going out at night because I love dressing up for a night out whereas some people just like to throw on a shirt and jeans and look casual. I tell my son “Don’t be a sheep. Live your life. Be happy. Always be kind and help people. Be honest” and although he’s only 11 he’s followed my advice and he’s an amazing little genius!

I think this Covid pandemic has really really changed the way some people look at Working From Home now. Whereas before it was an “ohhhhh…….” glazed expression, now because of Covid and so many employees are currently working from home, it’s more of a “oh I do too!” movement. It’s socially acceptable now because of Covid but some people still equate work = travelling to and from a place to earn money. They have a traditional outlook how life is and should be.

We are all different and all have different lifestyles and are juggling different balls. Just because someone does not physically go into an office everyday but they work from home does not mean they are lazy, don’t work, not busy, have no life, are scroungers etc. Please don’t judge. Of course there are exceptions to this rule and there will always be some people who “Work From Home” while scratching their arse and watching daytime tv but I’m not one of them. I’m proud of myself and I love my life. Please don’t let me (and others) be misunderstood and label us as lazy. 

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