When I was a teenager, my Dad always stressed the importance of getting a job with benefits. He made a convincing argument, but in the back of my mind, I always feared that I’d end up disappointing him.
Even then, I knew that my career path was unlikely to take a normal route. At that time, I envisioned a career as an illustrator. Most of the cushy studio jobs were gone, and freelancing was the most likely option. Benefits were a long shot, but I reasoned I’d rather do something I loved without them than spend fifty years in a job I hated just to have them.
My career path made some adjustments along the way, but my entrepreneurial spirit pretty much assured the fact that health insurance would be my own responsibility. And it has not been cheap. Dental bills, prescriptions, and everything associated with Kim’s pregnancy and delivery came out of our own pockets. But with careful saving and considerable sacrifice, we’ve been able to manage things just fine.
However, I’ve been able to enjoy some benefits of a different kind. Because we own our own business and can easily work from home, Kim and I were both able to take substantial paternity and maternity leaves (I’m not sure they’ve even ended yet.) I have been able to go to all of Kim’s and Lucy’s various doctor appointments (of which there have been legion!) My relationship with Kim and our teamwork and communication skills have reached new levels. In a few weeks, the three of us will be traveling to Texas and Florida on business together. (Lucy got her frequent flier number before her social security number!) And I’ve been able to spend time with Lucy in the mornings while Kim showers and gets a little work done — something that would never be possible if I had to be at an office at 8:00 in the morning. Maybe the best part is being able to see smiles and sneak kisses during breaks in my day. How do I put a price on benefits like these?
I consider myself truly blessed, but these unconventional benefits wouldn’t be possible were it not for the sacrifices Kim and I have made over the years along with our determination to follow our passion. Interestingly, jobs that just ten years ago would be considered iron-clad security blankets are now some of the most tenuous, and I am grateful for the position that we are in.
It occurs to me that after all these years, I can tell my Dad that I DO have benefits, they’re just a different kind.
The economy has upset a lot of apple carts, and it shows no sign of letting up anytime soon. Some people have lost their benefits, others have lost their jobs. It’s never fun being forced into a job or career change. But if you find yourself in a situation like this, all is not lost. Stay positive, for everything works out for the best.
You may be in the unenviable position of looking for a new job, but allow yourself to be optimistic. After all, you may just land yourself a job that has benefits of a different kind.