Let me begin by saying I love my current job. It’s challenging and rewarding in a lot of ways. I have learned to bring my passion into the role in front of me.
Because you see, I can’t have my dream job. It’s not that it doesn’t exist. It’s that I afford my dream job.
Let’s go back a moment and review some of the jobs I’ve had:
- Pet Store Cleaner (literally, I spent a couple of weeks cleaning cages & tanks to “cover” for an out-of-town employee for the pet shop who traded my hamster-babies for credit)
- Grocery Cashier (and sometimes stocker or bagger)
- Data entry into DOS
- Admin Assistant/”Organization Specialist”/Accounts Receivable (small business!)
- “Security” (sitting outside a conference room with a clipboard for a day)
- Retail Associate for party supplies
- IT Helpdesk
So I am the first to say it’s not like I’ve done a ton with my life. There have been some other odd-jobs (“construction” when a friend bought a house while I was unemployed) and volunteer/voluntold jobs. I look at the list and I like the variety I’ve gotten to try. I wish it was even longer. Because new is fun.
The problem with most of these roles (until the last handful) is the wages. I can’t express how much I really, really liked retail. A lot of that had to do with the manager & other associates in that store, BUT it also helped that people didn’t come for party supplies because they need it (like groceries). Watching a mother organize her groceries so her kid(s) will eat and you see the fight to keep her shoestring budget… god it breaks your heart. To see a mom tell her kid they can’t have the $75 balloon that is bigger than her car… less sympathetic.
The other reason I enjoyed retail was that I had “itchy fingers” at the time. I could write 2000 words without noticing. I could stay up late because I knew I had the closing shift the next day. I loved working ~32 hours (most the manager was allowed to give because well, over 35 and we might hit 40 and then the company would have to provide benefits!)
But I couldn’t survive on the pay. I couldn’t pay rent AND my car payment. I didn’t get health insurance. I could afford to live on that wage. So I found a more challenging job. A job that I had to learn and grow into. And there are days I hate my job.
I hate that I can’t have a Tuesday brunch with a friend. Or meet them someplace downtown for lunch, get there an hour early and window shop. I hate that I have to take hours/days off to go to the doctor or dentist. I hate that I sometimes come home too exhausted to do more than the bare minimum to survive (food. Maybe laundry). I hate that I fight for every word I write. I fight the exhaustion. I fight the distraction.
When I learned about the Mincome experiment I wanted to cry. If I could pick any life it would be to work ~25 hours a week and be able to focus on my writing. To have the emotional and mental energy to figure out the shitshow that is the publishing world. Not to say I wouldn’t be putting in “forty hours” of work, but I would be splitting it between the “paying” job and writing.
I hate making my dream take second place to doing more than “scraping a living” out of the world. I hate the image of “starving artist” and refuse to buy into a lie that I would have to compromise my dream to have more.
I am lucky. I really do love my job. I love that I get to help others be better at their job. I am glad I can help people find success in this world. I love taking on a challenge of a topic that others have tried to teach and help others understand it. I love creating documentation. I hate capitalism for relentlessly driving artists into the corporate world because otherwise we have to starve.