As a blogger, I live my entire life online. And I am brutally honest about said life. Between this blog and my primary blog, I have done so since 2009–that’s almost seven years of extreme life transparency. And while that is a
stupid scary thing to do, I do it because I hope that in sharing my stories, I will inspire or encourage others. I do not plan to stop.
Of course, given my choice to live in a self-made internet fishbowl, I should expect to encounter occasional criticism. I mean, duh, right? Yet I’m still consistently floored when criticism arrives, knocking on my door with a pot luck casserole in hand all ‘Hellooooo! Just thought I’d stop by with with this shepherds pie and side of crippling self-doubt!‘
Fact: when you tell the world that you are making a decision–any decision–80% of the world will cheer you on. The other 20% will tell you why that is a terrible, stupid, bad, bad decision and how it will lead to your personal and financial destruction.
And you will only listen to the 20%.
So when I made the decision to stop screaming into the wind (and by ‘wind’ I mean ‘LinkedIn’) trying to find ed tech or professional development work and instead focus on cultivating a freelance writing career, some people had some words for me.
Things People Have Said To Me In The Past Week
You need to get a job (any job at this point ) and pursue your passions in your spare time.
Don’t expect that you’ll ever make any money doing what you dream of doing, or that you’ll find a magical job that’ll solve your problems. That’s not the way life works for most of us because life isn’t fair.
I’m not saying you have to stay forever at any job you take now but you may have to take a job that is well below your skills just to bring some money into the household.
Don’t expect that you can do a job you truly love and get paid. The myth that everyone has a special talent or that we all can find our special career is just too appealing to our generation.
I think a lot of your friends are enablers. They encourage you to follow your dreams and look for a fulfilling job but very few people in life get to do that.
So to summarize: take any work you can get and be happy about it because life fucking sucks and work sucks and it always will. Anyone who tells you differently is lying.
Please note: these are just things which were written down (and thus copy-paste-able) on either my own personal Facebook page or as comments here on this site. But they are quite similar to things which have also been said to me out-loud. And, I imagine, they also represent things that many, many others have thought about me and my current situation–the only difference is that the people quoted above had the balls to say it to me (I appreciate balls).
Did any of this bother me? Of course it did! It bothered me a lot. I cried tears. I moped. I ate ice cream directly from the carton. But then I thought about all of it. I really, really thought about it. And I asked myself:
Why is this bothering me so much?
The answer, unsurprisingly, is: because I
believe believed it to be true.
I can assure you, as a person who lives in a self-made internet fishbowl, there’s nothing worse than having your own doubts, fears, and insecurities made verbally manifest by friends and/or strangers. But that’s what living in a self-made internet fishbowl is all about, so I accept it. And, after much moping and ice-cream-eating, I now choose to welcome it as a chance for reflection.
So I reflected.
Do I really believe that there’s nothing good out there for me? That there’s nothing good out there for anyone? That I will never be able to make ends meet by doing something I actually like? Do I prescribe to the maxim ‘No work is fun. That’s why they call it work’?
No. I really don’t. And here’s why:
I have had jobs that I loved. And those jobs paid me money.
In fact, as an adult, I have had a total of two careers. And both of them (for the majority of the time) made me happy and fulfilled.
While I did eventually become frustrated with my public school teaching job for a variety of reasons, for years I loved it. People would ask me what I did for a living, I would tell them that I taught middle school, and they would say ‘oh dear, I’m so sorry!’ And I would say ‘oh no, I love it!’ And then they would look at me funny.
And I did love it. I loved being able to be creative in my lesson planning. I loved spending time with my colleagues. I loved the kids–the energy, the silliness, the laughter. For a good long while, I loved teaching. And they paid me to do it. They paid me not-poorly.
When I transitioned into my new role–teaching and coaching teachers in districts across the country–I could not have been happier. I found something that I not only loved to do, but I something that I was good at. And something which gave me the lifestyle I wanted; a life of near-constant travel. It was wonderful. And they paid me to do it. They paid me well.
So to those of you who are convinced that all work is a miserable experience, I say: I’m really sorry that that’s what life has taught you. Me? I don’t want to learn that lesson. I’m not signing up for that course.