So, I got a “real job” a few weeks ago. Sorry, Scott Gerber.
Within my first 48 hours as a working man, I had become a different person. Prior to the job, I was crushed under a battleship’s weight of financial worries, career worries, worries about how to strip any silver lining from the black cloud of unemployment. The job lifted up all this weight from me and carried it away. Now I float to work, partially because I feel light as a feather and partially because I have to wake up at 5:30.
I did not have to practice mindfulness. I did not have to simplify my lifestyle. I did not have to shift my perspective. I had been failing at these things all summer. Once I got the job, the fear was just gone. My monthly payments are being made. There’s no one who can honestly murmur in secret that I’m a nowhere-going loser.
I was content. This, of course, made me quite discontent. This new, easygoing, money-earning version of me had to relearn how to manage success, gauge satisfaction, mobilize creativity and act with independence. It’s remarkable how few rules you want to obey and guidelines you want to follow after spending 10 hours a day doing that.
Complacence initially seems like a prime platform for creating art, since you have no one to submit to, no outside influences to contaminate the work. But what emotions do a complacent person wish to elicit? What does a complacent person feel the need to say? If I am the complacent person, the answer seems to be: Not a whole lot. Or more verbatim, “…”. Luckily, since I write for a magazine on fear, this quickly became a source of guilt that ended my complacence.
For people who strive for an unconventional career, a great debate erupts between how much a buffer you should allow yourself to build up through traditional work. Some people say that it is just good sense to gain experience and money and others say that if you compromise, you will fail. I can’t answer that. But I am only three weeks into a job I don’t hate and I can say that having a real job brings the fight against fear to a whole new battlefield. I think this is a good thing because now you can concern yourself with cool things like “how can I produce or conduct genuine, meaningful art” instead of primal things like “AHHHH I need money.” Even though it has been dizzying and provoked somewhat of an identity crisis, I would still say that my real job is a net positive and that my new mental obstacles are luxurious ones to have.