I got into it with a friend the other day. The story is rather long, but I’ll give you the Cliff’s notes cheat sheet version. My friend asked me to meet him out at a restaurant. He said he wanted to introduce me to someone. I like meeting people. And like I said yesterday, I’m easy going and spontaneous. So I went. He introduced me to the guy, who was a real estate guy and also kind of a dick, and then follows it up with, “he’s looking for someone to work for him. I thought he could give you a job.”
My immediate response was, “Is that job a writing job that I can do from home?”
The answer was no, of course. Which I knew.
I was immediately mad. Livid even. I’m not usually one to get mad so fast, but this is the same guy that six months ago was applauding me and telling me that I am a hell of a writer and giving me the metaphorical pats on the back (and butt) that I needed.
It may not have been that I was mad, so much as that I was hurt. I already have my family telling me that I need to get a “real job.” Which is really funny to me, because I haven’t asked anybody to help me pay my bills. I haven’t asked anyone to borrow any money. And when I have asked, I haven’t gotten it.
And it was the same with this friend. I appreciate the gesture. But if you are so worried about helping me, go ahead and put your hand in this little hat of mine and grab out a bill and pay it. That’s how you can help.
Am I struggling right now? Yes, I’ll admit it, I am. I am writing my ass off day after day. I only have a few paying gigs. The other gig is a book that I’m working on that I am really proud of (which incidentally I am 34,000 words deep in).
Am I complaining that I am broke most of the time? No. I don’t say shit.
If you looked at my Facebook, you would probably think I am doing just fine. And you know what? I am. I’m doing just fine. My bills are paid (mostly). Not always on time, but eventually. But do you know what’s more important than that? I’m happy. I wake up every day and I’m happy. I don’t want to take my pillow and suffocate myself with it. I don’t pull the covers over my head and whine that I don’t want to wake up. When I wake up in the morning, I am thrilled that I get to write. I get to write stuff that I wouldn’t normally write for someone else. And I get to work on my book for me.
I have this quote on my wall and I stare at it every single day when I get up. I’ve shared it before, but it’s worth sharing again…
“What would you look like living the life that Jah Almighty gave you and you alone, but living that life on someone else’s terms and vision? If you do that, God just wasted a lifetime, giving it to you when you’re just gong to give it away to another man’s vision. What’s the use of two of you if the two of you can only think and do one way? That makes one of you unnecessary.”
– KyMani Marley, Dear Dad
And I think about it all the time. I spent all most a year making a business that wasn’t even mine, successful. I worked 10 hours a day or more. I worked six days a week. I worked magic at that place. And for what? I worked for a dude who couldn’t handle the fact that I was able to improve the business that he started. Instead of thanking me and basking in the success that I was creating for him, he took it as an insult to his intelligence and fired me every other month until I eventually quit. The business is still running, but not successfully. It is running by the seat of the pants just like it was before I got there. Nobody knows if they will be able to cash their checks at the end of the week. People are miserable.
That’s not the only job I had being awesome and increasing sales or making money for someone else. And for a while I was OK with it, but I was never satisfied. I’m not an entrepreneur. I don’t care about money in the way that other people do. I’m not a “business” person. I don’t think about my financial future. I know that I should, but I don’t.
What I care about is my happiness. I care about the happiness of my kids. I had lots of “real jobs” when I was raising them. I passed up opportunities for advancement because it was going to take me away from them. I worked jobs I hated. I worked jobs that were hazardous to my physical and mental health. But I did it with no complaints. And now, my kids are all grown up. My youngest is about to be 16. I’ve done my time working “real jobs.”
And, honestly, if I’m getting by doing something I love, I’m not quite sure why the people in my life who keep screaming “you need to get a real job,” are so concerned about what the fuck I’m doing anyway.
But it doesn’t really matter, because I’ve already thought too much about it. I shouldn’t have given it even this one thousand words of thought, but like I also said yesterday, there’s some ranting going on this week. I guess this is just part of it.
So just to clarify for anyone who is wondering, I actually have a “real job.” It just so happens that I don’t hate what I get to do everyday. I don’t need to be rich. I’m content getting by right now because I am working on, what I consider to be, the best thing I’ve ever written and when it’s time, I will reap the rewards for it. But, more importantly, I’m happy. And I plan to stay that way, “unemployed” and all.