I’m sitting in a cafe trying to calm the voices in my head telling me I’m a dilettante. I’m overcome with envy when I think about my friends who have managed to find themselves in serious jobs with health benefits and respectable salaries. I envy their security. I envy their discipline. I envy their maturity. I think about applying to something like that and become overwhelmed by a sense of the shame. Nobody’s going to hire me. I’m 24 and I’ve got a CV that’s as patchy as a sophomore’s facial hair. And I hate that shit. I hate offices. After a month sitting at a desk eight hours a day I want to curl up in a ball and roll out of the 30th story window.
I don’t know what’s worse, feeling ashamed of the fact that I’m too old to be relying on my parents for financial support, or the prospect of finding a full-time job and having to leave after six months because I’m going stir-fucking crazy. I try and tell myself that there must be a happy medium. There must be a job that I’d enjoy that takes place in an office setting but that doesn’t involve calendars, meetings and forms. But every job I see requires sitting. Every job wants a ‘self-starter’ with ‘1-2 years experience in x’ or ‘a degree in y.’ I can tell you for sure that there isn’t a single job description in existence that is looking for someone with a degree in French and Italian studies. Find me one and I’ll buy you dinner. No, I’ll cook you dinner. I can’t afford to be wasting money I didn’t earn on over-priced burritos.
The most frustrating thing about this is that I don’t feel like I have any right to be frustrated. This is the epitome of a first-world problem. I’m getting everything I’ve asked for, but instead of feeling empowered I feel helpless. I feel like I don’t have a choice now. I have to get my degree and open my own practice because I’m the only person who’s going to hire me.
But I want to write. I want to write. I want to write. I want to write! I want to do other things that expose me to the world, and to new people, and that give back. But damn, I want to write every day and every night from now till I die. I can’t imagine doing anything else and feeling fulfilled. I can’t imagine abandoning the worlds in my head that I’ve created. I can’t imagine trying to stem the ideas for stories and scripts and novels that are bursting out of me like an uncapped fire hydrant. I try and tell myself it’d be fine. But when I think about a life not dedicated to writing, I feel like I’m losing my best friend. I feel like I’m giving up on the last bastion built from my childhood dreams. I feel defeated, like growing-up is a punishment, not a privilege. I like to work, I always have. And I’m not a dilettante. I’m really serious about what I do, it’s just nobody’s paying me for it yet.
I’m fortunate. I know I’m fortunate. And I’m grateful for everything I’ve been given. But I’m ashamed that I can’t do it alone, or rather that I haven’t insisted on it. And I’m motivated. God, I’m motivated. There’s nothing like shame to make you work harder and faster than you ever thought you could. And I’m beginning to realize what it feels like to have no options. It’s terrifying, and foreign, and weirdly wonderful. It’s the world I’ve always imagined myself in, and one where I hope to thrive.