Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept where I am today. Once – not too long ago – I was a magazine editor. Now I’m unemployed and I live with my parents, and the only job opportunity on the horizon is a Starbucks barista. (I actually really want to work at Starbucks. Free coffee + great benefits). I’m realizing that my insecurity is not so much the position in which I find myself, instead, it’s the fear of what other people may (or may not) think of me. “She’s a floater!” “She can’t commit!” “She’s wasting her potential!” “She’s too picky!” “She’s so behind in life!”
My friend Erin challenged me – dared me even – to accept where I am, get that job at Starbucks, and give myself permission to discover the parts of me that slowly began to fade as the world around me sped up.
“I guess I’m a writer…after all,” I told Erin in a recent phone conversation. “Maybe instead of writing all those articles I was assigned to write, I should start writing what I really want to write!” But I need time to rediscover that. When writing became a 40 hour work week reduced to deadlines and progress reports, it steadily morphed from passion into burden. I want to reverse that.
“Do it.” said Erin. “What have you got to lose?”
I like Erin because she doesn’t just say things, she does them. I watched her last year as she quit her job, moved across the country and settled into a new city. She remained unemployed for 3 months before finding a job that has truly made her happy. It might not be exactly where she envisioned herself 5 years ago, but it’s exactly what she needs. And she’s smart enough to know this without letting other people make her feel small.
My mom once told me about a radio broadcast she heard about writers and their various jobs. They waited tables, worked at coffee shops – did virtually anything to earn enough money to pay the bills without taking over their lives. I wonder if they cared as much about their ego as I do. A few months ago I overheard my friend Jess – an incredibly talented musician – tell her friend that she would rather be a starving artist than work a job she wasn’t passionate about. I shouted, “Amen!” and I meant it, though I had never lived it out.
This reality that I find myself in is new, scary, and full of risk. It does not, however, bite. How could it? Even though I have few friends in this city I feel more at home than I have in a long time. Being around my family is the main contributing factor. Living with my parents means I have family to share a meal with each night. Playing baseball on Sunday nights with my brother and his friends gives me some social time and a chance to get out of the house, even though I suck at baseball. And every time I pull away from my brother and sister-in-law’s home after spending time with them and their precious sweet pea, I’m delighted that we’re only separated by a 15 minute drive.
No, reality doesn’t bite at all.