Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a non-nuclear family.
Choose living on a housing estate known as ‘Heroin Capital of Europe’ next door to a nice Maltese man named Charlie, who collects broken washing machines. Choose supporting yourself through an undergraduate degree by selling second hand clothes from the nearby waste market online. Choose part-time subsidised campus based child care that still costs more per term than your loan. Choose a fucking huge student debt that you may never be able to repay. Choose a second degree because your first has no little value in the competitive jobs market.
Choose even more debt.
Choose graduating at the top of your class but being unable to find secure 9-5 employment that would allow you to work full time whilst still meeting your parental and caring responsibilities. Choose freelancing over unemployment but still being reliant on tax credits and benefits to make up the shortfall. Choose sending all DWP correspondence re: declared income via registered post. Choose fear of accusations of benefit fraud. Choose fear of sanctions. Choose Damian Green’s Exciting New Gig Economy.
Choose theoretically picking your own working hours, but instead having to jump to attention whenever an opportunity arises. Choose working from a cafe to save on home heating bills. Choose frantic mental arithmetic at the supermarket checkout to avoid declined card payments.
Choose being unable to adequately prepare for the future in a responsible or sustainable way. Choose a two week maternity leave or risk losing your best regular gig to another freelancer just as desperate as you are. Choose working at the hospital bedside of your profoundly ill child.
Choose desperately needing the money.
Choose relocating to a more affordable city, losing your friends and family support network in the process.
Choose the option of taking a holiday whenever you like, but not actually being able to afford one.
Choose to make up missed work days by working through the night.
Choose an unpredictable and insecure income.
Choose working for free to raise your profile but hating yourself for doing it, knowing that unpaid work contributes to the problem.
Choose not to pursue non-paying clients because you haven’t got the time or resources to do so.
Choose answering emails after midnight and reading replies on the school run. Choose no work/life balance whatsoever.
Choose an increasingly difficult to access NHS and the likelihood of no state pension.
Choose Tory Britain.
All statements above are based on the writer’s true life experience.
(All references to Irvine Welsh and John Hodge’s Trainspotting are deliberate).