Five years ago, almost to the date, I was working in an office in Chicago, when suddenly, I knew — I had to go. I gave a couple months notice, and stayed until we had hired someone, but my muscles were itching and twitching and I knew it was time to get out. I was waking with the birds, going to the gym, coming back and walking Béla, then heading to work until 6, and then walking Béla again. I had started staying up late at night to write a blog. I would sometimes fall asleep at the computer, but I was alive with drive to write. I had pinpointed where joy came from in my body — and it was as my fingers flew across the keyboard, and what happened while they were flying. I found truths, I expelled pain, and I connected with everyone who read my words. It was nothing short of exhilarating. When I decided to leave my job, I set one intention. I am going to figure out how to be a writer in this life.
A writer writes. I know this. But exhibition and payment and feedback water the writing. They make it grow.
Sorry. Let me get to the point. I kindof actually became a writer. I went to a writing conference and I met other people who deemed themselves writers and I started submitting essays and then I started freelancing. All of this happened while I was working part time. It’s not that I worked way less than 40 hours (usually around 30) and it’s not that I wasn’t tired, but I consistently found jobs and schedules that left pockets of time I could fill with writing and pockets of energy in my body so that I wouldn’t fall asleep at the keyboard. AND I EVEN HAD A KID DURING THIS TIME! And still I managed it.
Fast forward: We have just moved to a new city, where the prices of daycare and the housing market are much higher than where we were living, and I am interviewing for jobs that start at 8 and end at 5 and that doesn’t include the driving time. I am staring down the barrel of the EXACT THING I KNEW I HAD TO RID MY LIFE OF TO THRIVE. And I keep trying to skirt around it, but there’s no more skirting. We can’t afford another setup right now. Or anymore.
I’m not just heartbroken — I’m RAGING. I feel like scratching and clawing my way out of this. And there are ways, right? Like a part time day job plus waitressing some, and driving a Lyft, and etc, etc, etc…but household costs actually require me to have a guaranteed motherfucking paycheck every two weeks. I need regular, stable, office pay-grade work again. I feel like I am dying. Like I am facing the death of me. Because my writing time is going to get depleted. I feel like running away. Which – yes – means running away from my family.
Please help. I need a different lens from which to view this.
Good lord, you are dramatic! Do you know how many people work full time jobs and don’t equate them with death!? Do you know how many people are grateful to work!?
Okay — sorry. That wasn’t helpful. I can do better.
Let’s just revisit your memory. “Your office job and your life in Chicago was so, so draining and so, so hard, that you had to escape it to figure out ‘how to be a writer.’ “Right? Okay. Well. —–>
A. CONGRATULATIONS! You said it yourself — YOU DID IT! You kindof actually became a writer! Which means you did. So dry your eyes and pat yourself on the back, little lady.
B. Your job in Chicago — while draining — gave you SO. MANY. THINGS. Let’s go back and have a look.
The gym membership! The dog food to feed that gorgeous creature that inspired your first shared writing! The bike that you rode to and from work! The cute ass clothes you used to wear! The trips you would take to see your friends! And most importantly: A culinary adventure every damn day in the streets of Chicago.
What do you love more than anything? Food. What is the fuel of your dreams and your desire to travel and so much of your writing? Food. And honey, you ate your heart out all over Chitown. You ate the cheap foods, the middle-of-the-grade, and you even ate at some of the best restaurants in the city. Over and over and over again. Week after week. You gallivanted around with your pals, and ate, and you knew how many times you could keep eating that well, because you had a paycheck with the same amount on it every two weeks. DIDN’T YOU HAVE SO MUCH FUN????
So. So now you need some stable paychecks to fund a life in a new city with your sweet Bela and your sweet husband and your semi-sweet son. You need money to rent a place with a backyard and money for organic strawberries because you are terrified of pesticides and they cost like $6.99. You need money to keep visiting friends.
Do you, by chance, remember how life felt right before you took that job, there in Chicago? How you had just enough left to pay your next month’s rent and nothing else in the bank and how you were getting real scared and then how you knew that that office was going to offer you the job and you kept praying praying you wouldn’t have to take it?
And then — after you did take it — how your breath evened, when you knew you would be able to pay the rent. How your hands steadied when you knew your 17th cavity wouldn’t be the end of you, financially. Those things are worth a lot, too.
Your husband needs his breath to even out. Your son needs to be allowed to have a cavity that doesn’t run his parents into financial ruin. You have to remember those parts of the equation. You simply have to.
Also, strawberries are delicious and you should definitely buy the organic ones because strawberries are part of the ‘dirty dozen.’ And also, you and Nic and Ollie should go out on the town and buy some dinner. Eating out is fun as shit.
If they call tomorrow, take the job. And by the way, money aside, it sounds like you have a pretty amazing life, filled with love and memories, and opportunities. Honestly, it sounds like you are one of the richest bitches I have ever met.
You will find time to write. And when you do, the writing will be as rich as you are.