A few months into my first full-time job that lasted more than three months, I started looking for a way out. Not because I didn’t like it. I just couldn’t imagine living in a life in which my schedule was largely dictated by someone else, by a whole host of someone elses, by a company, a monster bigger than me. When Bob and our friend Dan decided that donuts are The Next Big Thing and started sorting out the logistics of opening up a donut cafe, I didn’t express an ounce of hesitation. I was On Board. “I can come on as a waitress once you guys are turning a profit!” I said. When we (they) figured out that rents are high in Chicago, I turned my research to food trucks. Food trucks are The Other Next Big Thing, you know. And even though Chicago has some sticky laws that make mobile food service a harder-than-it-should-be market to break into, I was still all about it. The girl who eschewed anything so much as resembling a business student, class, or degree in seven years of higher ed had suddenly embraced the new American dream: entrepreneurship. I wanted to be a small business owner. To be more specific, I wanted my family to own a small business, so I could do what I wanted. Write. Play music. Have babies. Maybe practice a little law. Not work at a firm, a government entity, or school.
Maybe you think I am making this too hard for myself. Maybe you are thinking that I don’t need to build a business to write, play music, have babies, and work without a boss. There are a lot of people out there doing just that. I’ve got artist friends, photographers and musicians. I read blogs. I know ladies making a pretty penny flipping strollers on eBay or selling junk on Etsy. Heck, I know ladies making a killing taking hazy-edged pictures of mostly naked babies. Here’s the other thing I know. Most of those people aren’t paying the rent. When you’re not living of student loans anymore and you’re years removed from living with parents and friends and you’re supporting a damn family these things become very clear. I’d love to spend my life making art. But I also like to eat. Which is why I would never leave my line of work without building something to support our family first: a business, a savings account, or at least a plan.
Lauren, from I’m Better In Real Life, does this series for artists. She invites creative types to her blog to chat about their life and work. Their life’s work. Today she featured Lizzie and Isaiah. I don’t know Lizzie and Isaiah, or know much about them, but Lizzie said something about being an artist that resonated with me:
Too often, I hear creative professionals telling their story of quitting their day-job, making a go of their creative passion as a career without telling the honest-to-God truth of the story. A lot of those people have spouses with full-time jobs, nest eggs they’ve built after working for years, book deals in place or no-rent situations where they live with their folks or friends. Our goal is always to strive for autonomy and to make careers out of working for ourselves. But I’ll be honest in telling you it doesn’t look like it will happen full-time for quite a while and I won’t bullshit you into thinking it’s something that comes naturally to anyone or happens overnight for anyone either. If someone’s story has seemed like our dream story but a little too good to be true, we usually assume it is and there’s some other stream of revenue coming in that they’re not telling anyone about for whatever reason.
This isn’t a blog about hating my day job. I’ve said it before, but maybe it bears repeating: I love my job. Don’t hold your breath waiting for me to quit to do something more in line with my creative nature. Now that I’ve settled into the stasis of being a grown up and having to, you know, work, I haven’t thought about donuts or food trucks in months. But this is a blog about relationships, identity, and coming to terms with yourself. I tell you about how the first year of marriage was shockingly difficult because I want to talk about my marriage, but I don’t want to mislead you into thinking it’s something that comes naturally to anyone or happens overnight for anyone either. The same goes for my Mormon faith, the way I look, and pretty much everything else in this short life. I’m willing to bet that, when it finally happens, running that food truck won’t be easy, either.