Thursday 6 September 2012

Non-working non-teacher and happy

For those who do not know: I am not teaching this semester which technically also means that I am not working (in a regular job which pays at the end of every month).

The reason: My Ph. D. degree is long due and I am yet to defend my thesis and get a degree. In this post, I will refrain bad-mouthing my University and get to the crux of this post - My status as a non-teacher and a non-working individual.

For the most part of my life I have always been either a student or more recently, a teacher. I have enjoyed being on either side and hence had something seemingly purposeful to say when asked, What do you do? Of late, I have to explain in more than one sentence as to what I am doing. Sometimes, I just respond by saying, I am a Ph. D scholar. Period. The queries don't stop there. They continue like constant dripping on a rainy day: You were working, na? What happened? Don't you have a job now? So, you are sitting at home idle? Well, it is true that I had been working and that I had a job but that does not mean that I am idle! On sunny days, I take it in my stride and nonchalantly brush off the queries and patiently reply: I am writing research papers and also working on a couple of other academic things but on not-so-sunny days, I refuse to answer and simply try to cut off the conversation. Simply put, I am tired of explaining to all and sundry my status of being a non-teaching and non-working woman.

While some are pleasant and chirpy: One needs a break or Being at home is good or Take this as an effective 'me' time, others quip in, No personal money now or Aren't you bored? Well, all of the above is proved right at some point but sometimes it's just a bit repetitive to hear the same words over and over. Translation of being a non-working individual is idleness and prolonged sadness. I see that there is a general belief among most of the people (I know) that being at home is endless pain and misery. The joy of having time to oneself, sleeping and waking at will, prolonged time in the bath, extensive reading is practically unnoticed by people. The fact that not working equals to not having money is a very crude way of looking at employment.

Even today morning, my close relative called up and asked me, What work do you do, anyway? I realise that I cannot blame people and their views and beliefs. Their world-view is limited and narrow. On my part, I should strive to not take things personally and brush them aside and do what I am doing: Being happy and controlling time!

So, what have you to say about the non-working status? Isn't it fun and joyous (even though for a limited period)?

Image: Internet


  1. Last year I took a sabbatical from work and spent 5 months at home. I enjoyed my time off and it was nice to spend more time with my son. After 25 years of working continuously I felt I had earned the right to be at home and do nothing - simply be idle. And I loved it. I wasn't afraid to say it to those that asked me. Unfortunately for a single mother like me also looking after my mother, not working does equal to not having money as I don't have the luxury of a partner who can support me when I'm off work. In the end the bank account compelled me to start working again.
    If you're happy not working it doesn't matter what others think. have a blast being idle.

  2. Oh I completely agree with you Susan:)I think without work,many people would go absolutely crazy.Another 'problem' today is that people spend so much time at work thus becoming quite emotionally invested in the workplace.People bring their children to office,send them to office creche within campus,and even have their social needs met at the workplace.Imagine such a person sitting at home by choice or unemployment!

  3. Most people belong to this school of thought:)

    "Work does not by its nature permit us to do anything other than take it too seriously. It must destroy our sense of perspective, and we should be grateful to it for precisely that reason, for allowing us to mingle ourselves promiscuously with events, for letting us wear our thoughts of our own death and the destruction of our enterprises with beautiful lightness, as mere intellectual propositions. We function on the basis of necessary myopia. Therein is the sheer energy of existence, a blind will no less impressive than that which we find in a moth arduously crossing a window ledge, stepping around a dollop of paint left by a too-hasty brush, refusing to contemplate the broader scheme in which he will be dead by nightfall.
    Our work will at least have distracted us, it will have provided a perfect bubble in which to invest our hopes for perfection, it will have focused our immeasurable anxieties on a few relatively small-scale and achievable goals, it will have given us a sense a mastery, it will have made us respectably tired, it will have put food on the table. It will have kept us out of greater trouble.” — De Botton

  4. I've been happily unemployed for the last almost 6 years now, Susan and I went through that stupid question phase - during which I realized that it made people uncomfortable that I was having a good time not working!! ;)

  5. smiles...people def dont understand when our actions do not fit their mold or expectation, i have seen that in my own life several times....but we must each find our path...

  6. You have written exactly what is there in my mind. Well, I am also unemployed for a year or so. Reason:Looking after the tiny tot. Now, the next question is, how long will I look after the kid? I have no answer to this question. But, as you said, it's good to be at home and spend some time.
    It has become more a trend setter to share our employment status to everyone we know around us.I guess, as far as we are employed some where, people are not bothered.The moment we quit the job, there will be so many unrelated queries.
    I am silent to most of the queries as I don't have a specific answers to all these queries.
    I want to join work but don't want to mess with work and life as before.

  7. I have gone through this phase long back. People were questioning for sometime and then left it at that! Just say 'I am relaxing for sometime! After Ph.D. I can't have this luxury' They will have to keep quiet then!

  8. All the time in the universe to do whatever you like, (singing silly songs in the bathroom for as long as you want and in the process irritating the neighbors,of course!, lazing around and reading awesome books, rediscovering yourself, making friends with your slower side..i can go on and on)..sounds like freedom to me!! A chance that should not be missed for the world. Lucky you!

  9. hey, iam also in a non-working/non-studying status for the first time ever in my life. Nosy beings are told I am vegetating, and they cant do anything about it except be J!

  10. All the best for completing your doctorate Susan Teacher :)

  11. Ah!! Another thing we have in common....i have been happily unemployed by chance+design..because right after my PG i felt that since i had been continously studying all my life-since my kindergarten/school/graduation/postgraduation..i figured i owed myself some "me" time...and i thoroughly enjoyed those few months of laziness...despite the snide comments by dad...and the relatives enquiring whether i had actually passed or sitting at home because i had failed....i took it all on the basis of rest when you can/for the rest of your life you will end up working no guilty feeings...this is like warming up before the actual have got the rare gift of being free for a few months Susan...dont waste it in feeing guilty...the rat race is always waiting out there ready to swallow you stay away as long as you can manage...and enjoy while you are at it

  12. acha sorry can i ask , WHat do you do by the way, are you not working haaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwww..

    ok ok ok now i shud run before you shooot me down :) he he he

    oh ho dont let people bother you , its fine whatever you may do their will always be one person who will have something to say on that too ..

    so why bother :)

    take care and all the best with the PHD.. thats what you are doing .. hana .. am i right .. cause you did not tell me what you doing ?..........

    booooo hooooo :)

  13. Give them an answer that will make them giddy. I don’t know your Ph.D. subject. If I were you, I would give something like this (me, being a financial person):

    “I am trying to weigh in the advantages and disadvantages between collateralized mortgage obligations and collateralized debt obligations. Can you help me? If you have a few minutes, shall we talk about it?”

  14. Some people think we are one-dimensional and can only relate to who we are via our work. You are so much more than a student, more than a teacher. You have many facets.

    Take care Susan.

  15. I did take a sabbatical break from work last year to take care of health issues being faced by my wife and the break lasted for 6 months was good as long as it lasted but then being from middle class family with no other means income i had to go back to be employed. I sure would love to just laze around and do whatsoever i like to do without having to worry about the job. In any case in about 5 years time i would have to retire as i am already 55yrs old and then i would have all the time in my life to do what i please.

  16. Susan

    I have been it all - working mom, non-working SAHM, and now a part time working part time mommy-tasks doing mom..Trust me whatever be your status people ALWAYS have something to comment about it and not always in your favor...u r working and there is a huge crowd waiting to tell you that your kid is not getting the attention he are not working and there is another half of society talking to you about financial independance and boredom...Get some ear-plugs ...and do just WHAT you LOVE ... :D

  17. Your posts always provoke interesting thoughts in people, as is evident in the content rich comment column.

    I finished college three months back and hence have been into work life only for three months. Yet, I already have mixed emotions about this whole concept called 'employment'. On many days, I feel so stifled and suffocated and depressed about the whole concept. I simply want to be able to do my own thing and not have this fixed pattern of life, irrespective of how creative the work is.

    However, it seems like I am already getting addicted to this pattern. I am coming to believe that it will be impossible for me to do nothing and just sit at home. Sometimes, even uneventful weekends are depressing. I dread to think how I would feel being dependent on another person again.

    Maybe things will change. Perspectives will change. Three months is too soon to form any stable opinion. Lets see.

  18. You know, I think this is the way we're programmed from our childhood. Once you cross the age of I don't know, maybe three, you're always expected to be doing something - going to school, doing your homework, attending dance classes, practicing French tenses or Sanskrit declinations depending on what sort of school you go to, watching the Discovery channel, finishing projects, going for extra tuition, solving question papers, improving your handwriting, taking admission to college, sitting on the katta drinking tea before lectures, sitting in the classroom, taking exams, and once you have that exalted degree, it's to work we go! Frankly, I think we're so surrounded by people and things to do that after a point, we forget how to just 'be'. Even when one is at home it's either a break 'from work' or a holiday 'before college' or a vacation 'after exams'. All the free time one gets is just this interlude before one dives back into the activity which is the centre of our life or so we're taught to believe.

    I think being at home and just contemplating or even just lying around on a sofa and vegetating is a highly pleasurable 'activity'. No one is ever really idle. I mean, metabolically, just sitting absolutely still drains our body's energy, therefore, we're always, in that sense, performing work. :D

    But on a very serious note, Susan, I think as a society, we're encouraged to believe the 'work is worship' spiel.

    When we had European observers or students who talked casually of taking a break from college or a gap-year, everyone of us was horrified. So you'll spend a year doing nothing? Just whiling time away? Won't it reflect badly on your academics? Why would you want a break now? You're still so young - you can rest when you've retired from work! Blah blah blah and so it goes.

    If you ask me my thoughts Susan, I'd say what I said before. I envy you your time. Which is truly your time for you to do whatever you wish with it. I can't say the same for me. I can't even read blogs or even write mine like I used to. It's difficult to get 'me-time' as you put it. Which sucks! And irrespective of what others might say, I'm sure all of them secretly really envy you. :)

    So there! :)

    And I hope your Uni speeds up their snail-pace soon! :) *hugs*

    I'm glad I typed this all out in my loooong comment, it saves space on my letter! :D

  19. Arumugam, truly beautiful quote as always! And from a source I personally really admire now! :)

  20. I can totally relate, as this is my first year in 16 years that my children have gone to school! We'd always homeschooled. People keep asking "Well, what are you going to do NOW?" Now, I'm just going to be. Plenty of things to keep me interested and involved in life as well -- reading those books I never had time for, writing, writing, writing without being interrupted, and of course, the daily tasks of keeping up with home and family, providing a clean, cozy, comfortable atmosphere for us -- that's work I TOTALLY enjoy and so worth the investment of time!

  21. So what do you do anyways??? Just kidding!!!!!! Being a research scholar IS 'doing something'. Its great to have time to read, take long baths, sleep( the best) . Then comes a moment when you do get on line to check the bank balances and as you watch it dwindle something happens within you. If you have a pot of gold stashed away got for it. Other wise as soon as research is all done GET back to work. :)))
    I repeat: Being a research scholar IS doing something.

  22. Taking a break helps you charge your batteries. I had such periods of being a non working person. I enjoyed the solitude and the time I had.

    Ignore people and think that they are jealous as they cannot be in your position. Enjoy this time. You can travel, read, catch up with family and friends or do nothing if you wish to.

  23. Your wonderful comments enlivened me. Thanks for the lovely words, quotes and wisdom. I will remember each one.

    Hope the day and week is unfolding well.

    Joy always :)

  24. Before getting back to studies, I had almost a year off in which I practically did nothing. But this was also the time when I read many books and read two newspapers daily from the beginning till the end. I learnt. Frankly speaking, i learnt more during that year than my MA degree course. Academic studies tend to get frustrating because it forces you to read only particular items and imposes constraints. I think like we have weekend offs to relax, we also need to have a proper prescribed system where one could relax for a year or so after every 7 years of working.

    PS. You may like to read "In Praise of Idleness" by Russell, in case you haven't read it before. :-)

    MTV Enjoy! ;-)



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