By the time I graduated college in 2015, I had applied to probably about 40 full-time positions, eager to put on my big girl pants and get a “real job”.  I ended up hearing back from approximately two of the companies I applied to. At that point, it was thrilling just to get an email back even if it was to reject me. I continued to make extra money the same way I did since high school by babysitting here and there. I made it a regular gig by using websites like Care.com and Sittercity to find a family to work for.

While I love childcare, I was itching to use my newly acquired degree in Journalism and Media Studies. While trying to find employment like every other graduate, my physical health took a turn for the worse. After a life of chronic illness and a newly diagnosed blood disease, the doctors and I came to a decision to replace my immune system via bone marrow transplant. For the record, I would have much rather been on job interviews.  As the reality of my situation set in, it was increasingly difficult to care at all about finding a full-time job. I  knew as soon as there was a donor match, I would be in the hospital for 5 weeks and in isolated recovery for the subsequent 100 days. 

Fast forward to the summer of 2016. Slowly but surely I was getting back on my feet. Eager to become an active member of society again, I became a nanny. I saved enough money to move out of my house which was a crucial step in my recovery. I found a new family to nanny for in my new city which was a great way to explore my new home. I wanted to write and I definitely wanted to get paid and unfortunately, no one is paying me to tweet. Pitching to some online publications here and there, I thought maybe someone would throw me a bone. Could this never-before-published writer have a shot? No luck. Who would’ve thought?!

However, another opportunity was on the horizon. I began to work children’s birthday parties for a small business that provides spa services to young girls. Glitter, goopy green face masks, and intoxicating nail polish fumes often fill my weekend hours.  Then, my first writing job came along. where I would get to put my skills to use in a new and unexpected way. I began to both ghostwrite and review romance novels for a store on Amazon Kindle. I’d be cheating you out of the good details if I didn’t mention that the novels are paranormal romance about bear shifters. Like ripped, smooth-talking men who shift into grizzly bears. Yes, that is a thing and there’s a huge market for it.  

Between nannying, occasional date night babysitting, ghostwriting, and birthday parties, I’m able to have a schedule that suits me.  If I’ve had a particularly long week or the rainy weather is wearing me down, I’m not required to provide Friday night availability.  I can spend the night in working on bear shifter romance and offer my Saturday night. To an extent, I am my own boss. This all depends on keeping in good communication with the people who depend on me. 

Making It Work

When I was interviewing with families for my current nanny position, I made sure to find one with flexible hours. They understand the nature of my chronic pain and with good communication, we are able to make it work. It’s the opposite of a rigid 9 to 5 schedule, which doesn’t fit the unpredictable nature of my illness. Eventually, I may end up working one full-time job, and I hope that my chronic illness allows the option. For now, I’ll continue to balance my handful of gigs with a schedule that works for me.

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Jackie Weisser

By Jackie Weisser

Staff Writer