I was chatting with friends on a recent night, the usual inconsequential gibberish you get to engage in on occasion when the kids are in bed and everyone can relax with a few drinks, when the topic circled to an acquaintance who seemed overwhelmed juggling work and 3 kids. I commented that, like this woman, it was also difficult for me to manage some days, although I only have 2 kids, because our youngest is developmentally delayed, and my husband quickly responded, "Yes, but she has a job."
That really hurt.
I quickly shot back that I was running my own small business, thank you very much, which he thoughtfully acknowledged but said that was "different."
And he's right. It is different.
Because if I were sitting in an office 8 hours a day, regardless of what I was actually doing there or how much money I was making, no one would ever dare say I didn't have a job. Instead I spend my days entertaining, teaching, caring for and cleaning up after my children, and my evenings and weekends running a small business: knitting, writing patterns, developing classes, teaching, running test knits, marketing, bookkeeping, editing photos, and the list goes on.
Yes, I'm writing and selling knitting patterns. No, my job isn't "necessary;" the world would continue to turn without knitting pattern designers. I'm not curing cancer. I'm not making millions of dollars. I'm never going to be rich and famous, and no one other than my family and friends will remember my name when I've died.
But guess what? The same is true of my husband. And most of our friends. And the vast majority of people. At the end of the day, a very small percentage of people are going to make a major impact or get rich and famous doing their jobs.
So, all things being even in the end, why is it that the job that I've built myself, that I pour all my free time into, that is something I love doing, is somehow not a "real" job? Because I don't sit in an office 40 hours a week? Because I don't bring home a paycheck at the end of the month? Because the product I'm creating isn't really necessary? Because knitting is "women's work?" Or all of the above?
Being a creative is a challenge. People outside the industry struggle to understand what goes into creative jobs--and their default position seems to be that if they can't understand it (and frankly, most don't seem to have actually tried), it's not "real." So if you're a pattern designer, yarn dyer, tech editor, knitting instructor, or in any other creative business, and feeling like people don't appreciate how much work goes into your job, I just wanted to take a minute to let you know that we're all here with you--your job is just as real and valuable as any other, whether or not your spouse, family or friends understand and appreciate it.