thanks, but no thanks

I work on a project to project basis.  It’s great, in some respects, because it gives me a lot of freedom.  If I don’t like a client, I know change is around the corner.  There is no such thing as boredom, usually.  I can work from pretty much anywhere.  I chose this life, a few years ago, because it allowed me to work on my own terms.  I was looking for the ability to make a big difference for my clients while staying engaged and stable.  It also meant I could find time for myself–to go to school or achieve some sort of balance–because I wasn’t spending hours of my day stuck in traffic.

There’s always a trade-off.  With this job, the trade-off is that you have to accept a certain degree of instability.  When projects end, you’ll often have weeks of nothing.  We call this the bench.  I’ve even liked this aspect of it.  Mostly because it allows me a break.  I’m known for putting everything I have into my work, so being able to breathe every so often helps me continue doing that.  It also allows me time to reflect and consider new opportunities–which means I’m never really stagnant.

To some degree, it can be scary.  There are few guarantees about future work–unless you and the company decide to convert to staff.  I did that once, here, and it didn’t work out so well.  I was unlucky and got assigned to something that wasn’t right for me.  I ended up leaving for a short time–to work with a competitor–that really didn’t get it.  So, I came back–and had to completely start over.  Had to prove myself all over again.  And I did.  So much so that people went out of their way to help me stay off the bench.

I never asked for anything or expected anything.  I was so grateful for the respect and care these people showed toward me.  And I wanted to keep it going.  So, when things were given to me that maybe weren’t the best things for me–I welcomed them and tried to make them work–knowing full-well it just wasn’t going to.

People had assumed things about me and my needs.  They liked me and wanted to keep me happy–so they tried to support me based on these assumptions–and that put me in a situation that’s tough for me.  A situation where I had to tell people no–or be my total people pleaser self and be miserable.

Had they asked, I would have told them I’d pass.  I would have stated my needs and been okay doing so.  But, when people pay me a kindness totally out of the blue?  It shocks me.

I’m not used to that.  I’m not used to people taking care of me or even considering me.  I’m used to trailblazing and fighting for what I need.  So, to say “no” to a well-intentioned person doing what I normally do?  Well, it gave me agita.

For two weeks.

I said, “Ok.  I’ll take a meeting.”  I feigned excitement even while internally cringing–knowing if something came of it I’d have to say “no.”  Knowing that the people pleaser in me would fight hard–that I’d probably cave and say yes just to make them happy.  Say yes to this untenable thing that I KNEW would not work.  Like I had so many times before…to great heartache and frustration.

Because I grew up with nothing.  Who the Hell did I think I was?  Beggars can’t be choosers.

Who the Hell am I to think I have a right to be taken care of in a way that actually takes care of me?  Who am I to turn down ANY kindness–even if misdirected and, ultimately, a burden?

Who the Hell am I?

My therapist asked me the other day if poverty still appeared in my life as a significant issue.

As I wrung my hands about what to do about my career, today.  As I knew that I was at a crossroads.  That I could choose to be a beggar or I could hold onto my actual needs and create the life *I* want.

And I told her–“Yes, every day.  Especially right now.”

I’ll tell you who I am.

I am a person worth fighting for.  I’m a person worthy of care and respect.  I’m a person with needs.  I’m a person with talents that can change the world.

Who the Hell am I?

I’m me.  And because I’m me, I’m worth more than the first thing that falls in my lap.

So, today–I sent the letter, finally.  Thanks, but no thanks.  I’m working for me.

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