In Japan there's a term for someone like me: furiitaa. A word formed from the English free and the German arbeiter which translates as freelance worker. According to Ruth Ozeki, a new author for me, this is 'someone who works part-time jobs and has a lot of free time because he doesn't have a proper career or a full-time position at a company.' Written in English, it's spelt freeter, which, as she says, does indeed look like fritter. Is that what I'm doing: frittering my life away? I beg to differ. I create in my leisure and explore new artists and books. I made a difficult choice to balance part-time work with free time because when I don't the world turns a dizzying black. And believe me, sometimes even this can be a fine line. But I make no claims on anybody – not on the state or other individuals – and yet living like this is seen as lesser. I matter less; I'm putting myself first to fritter, because obviously what I do outside my part-time hours is a not-so-guilty pleasure.
full-time job carries weight, a part-time job does not, even if you
complete more in one day than the average full-timer would. What a
part-timer gives is never enough. This frustrates me because this is
not a choice I undertook lightly; in some ways, it was forced upon
me. If I have to live, then I must live differently. Being single,
child-free, or a part-timer does not mean I'm here to prop the
coupled up when they play happy families, or that I'm care-free. I
too have the normal household chores to do and I do them singularly.
I made a choice how to live my life to keep my sanity and you made
yours too. It's not up to me or to anybody to help you live it
responsibly or more easily.
mistake me. This is not a rant, this is about sacrifice, tolerance
and empathy. I've sacrificed all the personal goals most people
aspire to: going to university, a profession, house, kids, a life
partner to grow old with. Why? Because those kind of dreams are not
for me, just as people with those dreams sacrifice their other
interests. They put all their energies into raising a family or
running their own business, whereas I put mine in space and time. I
know what kind and how much peace I need to be me.
consider myself fortunate to know myself as well as I do, just as I'm
sure other women value the joys of motherhood. They prize time with
their kids, whereas I prize quiet time with my books and papers. Even
as I'm writing this, I'm imagining myself as an early feminist in a
white shirt, buttoned waistcoat and tailored trousers, with page-boy
hair and a cigarette in my mouth, like a heroine in a Sarah Waters
novel, except my lips drag from an e-cigarette. My own childhood
playground invention, puffing talc from a tin foil tip, while my
overgrown limps dangle out of an armchair and my eyes rest on a
half-folded paperback. Or I see myself sitting at a desk in
wire-rimmed specs, furiously scribbling and scattering notes filled
with my scrawl around me. Often, it's only when I look down I see my
true attire: loose exercise pants, baggy wrap-around cardy, and Hello
Kitty pink socks.
used to be a time when being a scholar was respected. Men were
esteemed and treated like gods, women were bluestockings.
used to be a time when a grand European tour was a rite of passage.
Men travelled largely alone, women had to be chaperoned.
I'm doing now isn't so different. My life is studying. In my
free-time, I learn psychology, philosophy, geography, history, and
culture. Time is invested in my own sense of worth, it's never
judge a freeter because their world is just as rich and does have
*Inspired by Ruth Ozeki's A
Tale For The Time Being