Mental Health, Working Life

Self Employed: Is It The Right Choice

At the beginning of the year 2021, I had a really difficult time with my work situation. So many things were happening at Walmart. It was nearing the anniversary of the shooting that occurred in the store in 2020. There were major changes in the department management that most associates didn’t like, prompting many good people to leave. It was all very overwhelming on top of everything else I had going on. My wrists were falling into more and more pain, my migraines were getting worse, and my general anxiety was out of control. I made a decision for myself to leave Walmart altogether. The vast majority of my stress was coming from that location and the work that came with it, I learned that I had to really start paying attention to myself and my needs.

In January, I signed up for the Postmates delivery service. Even just a few hours or a half a day with the app online, I made a decent amount of money. When I left Walmart, this became my new job. I soon would sign on for Doordash, Uber Eats, and now just this past week, Grubhub. Postmates has since merged with Uber Eats, but that’s still three apps I can just log onto and go to work when I desire to. Since February, these apps have been my full-time job. Although I’m working for big-name food delivery companies, I, the driver, am considered self-employed. I had to file so many taxpayers putting my name down as my “Company” before I could take either on the road. All my earnings are mine until tax season comes. I had to download an app to track my driven miles for deductions. Ages ago, I said I could never “run a business” or make my own work and be my own employer. I always thought people that did this “Self Employed” thing were people with business degrees running some classic massive office situation. I guess I take what I see in media as “Business people.” But now here I am in that classification, determining my own schedule, calculating my own taxes and deductions, not taking any direct orders from someone near me.

Looking back on my last few years, I’ve been partially self-employed for a bit. Writing this blog, doing freelance writing projects on the side, and pet sitting for Rover and Care.com are considered self-employed since I am the main one that controls my work type and time. It’s just now for half a year, there hasn’t been a company to go to for a set time a day for five days a week. All of my incomes now are coming from these labeled Self Employed occupations. Although I considered putting my life around my writing and other arts one day, I thought I wouldn’t be in this position for at least another decade, probably more. I have to admit, I did not entirely prepare for it. Of course, self-employment is not easy, there are a lot more tasks for me that are usually taken care of by a boss or manager, and of course the tax information, which I have yet to fully comprehend. There are the days that are not as busy as they should be, the days when my mental health keeps me from being very productive. The weeks when I feel I fall short of my expectations and the weeks I feel I need to be overworked for it to be a “good week.” The main thing is the fact that no week is the same, no matter how hard I try to make a uniform schedule, every week will be different. Sometimes I miss the structure of having a schedule dictated for me and knowing my set hourly rate. I am my own boss now, a good title, but means I am much more responsible for my “business” than what I’m used to.

Now can I really answer the question: “Was this the right choice for me?” I have to say yes. Despite the cons, the pros are much more abundant. I don’t have to call out for a migraine or a stomach cramp. I don’t have to ask for a break so I can massage my stiff wrists and hands. Though I still serve customers, there is very little interaction between me and my vendors and customers, making me very less anxious about my job. Even though my experience, my patience in customer service was being challenged and getting thinner. I can sit in my room and write until I get a delivery notice on my phone and then decide how long I really want to be out and dashing. I don’t have to take every delivery I get offered. If it’s a shady drop-off location or a restaurant with a bad reputation, I can skip and wait for the next one. In the situation that I have a stressful delivery or feeling too anxious and need to go hide in my room, I can finish my delivery, go offline, and go straight home.

I think the biggest thing is I am out of the Walmart company, but the working company in general. My specific store and Walmart, in general, have been undergoing massive changes and becoming very different. There was a mass quitting at the beginning of February that saw many good people exit for good. The store is now dangerously understaffed as the workload just increases. I hear they still keep the low wages and continue to cut the hours of anyone still there. There’s a massive workforce movement happening in the USA right now, I see it happening just by working. Just about any place that requires customer service is understaffed, begging for workers, begging customers to understand and be kind to those that remain. It is sad to see, but most of these places underpay and overwork their employees. More and more people today are realising they deserve better work conditions and are seeking those better conditions. Companys are struggling to hire new people, and then have a hard time keeping those people. I saw this begin in Walmart, and I am glad I left before I got stuck in the worst of it. Had I stayed at Walmart this year, I would have wanted to quit by now. As much as I hated to leave my store in that situation, I knew it was much better for me to be out of there. I foresee a massive workforce change from this massive event, I hope more big employers realise what workers truly want. The self-employed life is tough and more demanding, but it’s far better than what’s going on in the restaurants and retail stores now. Even though it is challenging and has given me great distress a few times, I don’t think I will be going back to the employed life any time soon. I had filled out a couple of applications, but none had what I was looking for. I would think in this crisis companies wouldn’t be so picky. At least they let me know they wouldn’t be hiring me and not just leaving me on read.

This life is absolutely not simple and not for everyone. Every job has its challenge and demand. Many people have demands that make static work a challenge, I’m lucky I get to make my own accommodations. Many people don’t like having their schedule and duties decided for them, I have that opportunity to figure out my own. It is easier and more desirable in its ways, with the expectation of more work. I’ve only had six months of this so far but I think it was a good switch physically and mentally. Despite the challenges, I feel like my general mood has risen significantly. I feel I am more valued as a delivery driver and blogger than a stocker, and I’m glad I can do this and still earn enough to make by. Hopefully, with improvements, I can make my work better and more successful. And yes, the other obvious, this is not an overnight success. For me, it has been worthwhile, and I’m happy to continue like this for a while. My life is not majorly better than it was, but it’s at least been more bearable to go on to my jobs each day.

Workers today are often exploited in many forms. Long hours with little pay is the most common situation to hear. Even though the understaffing of major businesses affects my delivery work and other errands of mine, I am glad to see it happening. I hope more companies learn to treat their staff right. The quality of life these days needs to be raised, and I believe better work conditions can improve it so much. Employees should not have to hate and dread going to work so much. People also shouldn’t have to feel like they are dying for someone else’s company. Giving people what they truly deserve for the work they do and the time and energy they sacrifice should be the first priority.

May the improvement of work conditions and livable wages come quickly and offer relief for every working person, in every country. Blessed Be.

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