Bridge Jobs – Paying the Bills While Building Your Dream

Jo Westwood (Business Heroine Magazine)

I’m coming out and saying it. I have a bridge job. A big old BJ. It’s not easy to tell you this because there’s some part of me that judges myself for working in a J.O.B part time. There’s some part of me that feels like I admitted defeat when I went for my trial shift. There’s some part of me that feels like a fraud, like people wouldn’t take me seriously as a spiritual mentor if they knew the truth.

Then there’s the part of me that remembers how many times I’ve coached my clients through the same fears as they transition from the 9-5 into their true passion, or perhaps make the leap from one business, which they no longer love, to one they’re smitten with. That move isn’t always smooth, especially financially. Sometimes it requires, for the sake of sanity and credit ratings, a bridge job to make that move. I have preached many times to my clients that there is nothing higher in integrity than demonstrating their commitment to their passion by doing what it takes to do their work, while still paying the bills. And I truly believe all of this, but aren’t I meant to be “further along” than this by now? (Said my ego).

I feel like now is a good time to give you some background (relax, it’s the potted version.) I’ve led a pretty privileged life for my circumstances. I was born to a full time housewife / sometime bookkeeper and a coal miner, AKA mum and dad to me. When I was little most of the coal mines in England closed and my dad, all of a sudden was out of what had always previously been a lifelong job. In an unusual twist of fate my parents bought a franchise and ran it together for 15 years. They worked hard and turned our fortunes around. We went from being a working class family at heart and home to a working class family at heart and a lower middle class family on our bottom line. I went to university, pretty comfortably I might add. My sister is an accountant and drives a very shiny white Beemer.  My parents have always been super generous. They have, at various times in my life, supplemented my income, funded my hair brain schemes and plural moves across the country, bailed me out, as well as saved diligently for me throughout my childhood and teen years. Then I set up my own international business in social media marketing and reporting which did me very nicely thank you. So I’ve never had to get a bridge job. Ever. Until now.

I’m the oldest, wisest, smartest, most skilled, most experienced and most confident I’ve ever been, and on Friday nights I pull pints and sell people pork scratchings and chilli nuts weighed out in little paper bags, (again, true at the time of writing, I have since quit the pint pulling!) and during the days I care for a lovely young woman with cerebral palsy.

So I’m sure you can see my dilemma. In this fast paced world of online obsession and creating a perfectly polished Internet image, having a bridge job or two just doesn’t quite cut it.

But I want to turn that on it’s head. Because despite my wobbles, despite my (now less frequent) feelings of fear and fraudulence, it actually feels pretty good. It feels good to grow up and take responsibility for my life and my finances and the impact they have on my family of creation. It feels good to have a motivating factor in my life – I no longer have unlimited hours to while away doing (or not doing) the work of my business. Ergo the productivity/time ratio has just got a rocket up the backside. It feels good to be working with integrity, commitment and focus towards what I truly desire by doing what needs to be done. And you know what else? After years of sitting on my arse behind a screen for many many hours a day, it feels good to get out and do “proper work”, interacting with a motley crew of people, no time or need for editing, just banter and at the end of the night that satisfied feeling that I moved my body and I’m tired because I did physical work, not just because I’m pixel-weary. (Never fear though my lovely Spirit Loving Spirit Deej fans, I’m not writing this to let you know that I’ve found my true vocation in employment. Just emphasising that my current work situ is for now, not forever, and for now I’m cool with it.)

…Yet.

I’m also outing myself because I KNOW how many other people out there, especially in the spiritual / holistic / coachy realm also have bridge jobs that they never talk about. You want to know what the last taboo is? It’s this. Not being as “successful” or as “far along” as you’d like to be, or as your social media presence would make out.

And yes, I get it, you’ve worked hard to create a brand and your cleaning / waitressing / corporate consulting doesn’t fall neatly into the niche you’ve carved for yourself. (I for one cannot see Spirit Deej blog posts on perfect pint pulling techniques or the merits of restocking at the end of your shift rather than the next morning any time in the near future!) However, as the endlessly brilliant Brené Brown shares in the Power of Vulnerability one of the signifiers of shame, crucially differentiating it from humiliation or embarrassment, is silence. We don’t share shame. More precisely we don’t share things we’re ashamed of. And just like Brené I’m aware that I’m getting into murky waters here by even using the word shame, because it turns people off by its very nature. But I have to bring it up, because it feels like there’s a lot of shame in our culture as a whole, and in our micro culture of spiritual folks with side hustles, around bridge jobs.

There’s a lot of (perceived) shame around having “not made it” yet. There’s shame in not being an overnight success, a six figure business owner, a guru, a mogul, a headliner with a book deal. There’s shame in not being at a stage where you’re fully supporting yourself financially yet, despite these being some of the most difficult economic circumstances the human race has ever created. (Yes, shock horror, gone are the days when uni was free and you could walk out of your grotty student flat with a degree in one hand and a full time employment contract – in your chosen sector – in the other. Hello living with mum and dad, or at least housemates ’til you’re 35!)

So I’m taking a stand right here, right now, for me and my bridge job, and you and yours. For all my Spirit Lovers who are employed and have a side hustle that’s their real passion, and for everyone who is making the transition steadily because being in financial disarray is too much stress to bear and will only crush your creativity and drive for your true passion.

Final thoughts if you have a bridge job: You’re not alone, you’re not a failure, you’re not a fraud, it’s for now, not forever.

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