February 6, 2013 • comment(s)
by Jeré Power
I have romanticized my writing and like most love stories in my life, I ran the other direction when it got semi-good to a career that wasn’t what I needed in the slightest. I have made a hobby out of my career and found myself loving the idea of what it can be instead of throwing myself at it full heartedly. I’ve come to find out that if you, in any point of your life, need to fantasize about being somewhere else, where you are in life is wrong.
About a year ago, right in the middle of finding my own voice and making a living as a writer, my company decided paying their employees was an option---oh hey, Strategic Revolution. Feeling defeated, I stopped writing and I found a job that would just make ends meet. I found myself serving coffee at a local bakery and while learning new ways to feed my coffee addiction proved helpful, I found myself serving people that thought I had begun an actual career in my chosen field. I grew up in your quintessential small town and I was pretty proud of the fact that I had dislodged my ass from the middle of Ohio to pursue what I loved. Instead of seeing me as successful I was just seen as the girl in an apron, semi soaked from trying to figure out how to use the dishwasher in the back, serving coffee. My coworkers, all younger than me, were really impressed that I had already accumulated two college degrees since they believed I must have been about eighteen. I let them keep that assumption about me because I was in desperate need of a “congrats” and at twenty-four it feels pretty good to be mistaken for eighteen.
I was going to take what I could get; I had hit a low point. I stopped writing and I let myself believe that I was never going to accomplish what I thought I could. I let the world seem larger than me and it began to show. I’d show up with my hair half on top of my head, usually covered in some powder from attempting to cook in the back and just introduce myself to customers with, “I’m Ashlie...and this is just how I am now”. It was then they moved me to the back to wash dishes, I think they thought my bitter whit was really bringing everyone down.
There’s a certain understanding to those that enter any creative field that their world may not turn out how they dream it will. In fact, that understanding stems to almost everyone that hears you mention you’re a writer, painter, actress, photographer, or musician. You can almost feel them waiting for you to mention what your “real job” is before it dawns on them that you must not have figured it out yet and they smile at you like you would at a child in the middle of them playing some imaginary game and say, “well that’s so good for you”. They expect you to fail.
There is this gracious period people give you to fulfill your ideas of grandeur before you settle into the real world. We’ve started giving ourselves the same limits.
Here’s the thing we’ve seemingly forgotten, we can’t always abide by the same rules and expectations as those in the “real world”. Our paths will always be different because we think differently, we pursue differently, and we have to because we are different. Making a career out of your craft is an act of love and often times not a choice of our own. There’s something unsettling to me about not pursuing my writing, even if that means at some points I’m a barista or a waitress, because to give up on it means giving up on a large part of myself. Here’s the thing that gets lost in the hustle and bustle of trying to make ends meet, life is long and it’s yours. No matter your age or your current position, it can be filled however you want it to be. You never really get anywhere; there is no exact destination. The climb to the top is never straight, whoever invented “climbing the ladder” as a saying had life handed to them and were pretty unoriginal. Professional life, much like life in general, is a chess board. It’s about being creative enough to invent your own routes.