Today, I went to Wawa. Exciting, I know. Stay with me.
I’m dog sitting right now and they like to get up at five, so that’s when I was awake. I went to Wawa early this morning to get something to eat, and forgot that in this general area, Wawa is Mecca, the end all be all of places to get gas and crappy breakfast sandwiches.
Anyway, I saw them all in their various work clothes. Construction workers, men in suits, women in scrubs, a few people my age in uniforms for places like Target or Best Buy.
And it occurred to me, these people probably do this every day. They look at me in my pajamas and probably think I’m stumbling in after a night of partying or that I’m sick or something, ordering soup from the touch screen before retreating back to my house.
Hell, even when I tell people what I do, they don’t think I have an actual job. They think I sit at home watching cat videos and Ancient Aliens all day or something.
I’ve been out of college for four months now. I have just completed my first resume. And I have applied for zero jobs.
I work on the weekends at Petsmart (a job where I get to work with animals, so I love it, but it’s not something I see myself doing forever, or even full time), and during the week, this is what I’ve been doing:
Promoting my work
Designing book covers
Editing my own work
Workshopping the work of friends
Going to a few book fairs/library events
And I am also one half of Metamorphosis Editing Services, an editing company I made up with little hope of succeeding, but I wanted to try it out anyway. So Freelance Editing (it’s going better than expected, btw).
Let’s just break down the monetary value of these things, shall we?
Writing two books at once: $0
Amazon Book Sales: depending on the month, $100-$200 per month
Promoting my work: $0
Answering emails: $0
Designing book covers: $150 per cover
Editing my own work: $0
Workshopping the work of friends: $0
Going to a few book fairs/library events $10-$100 (depending on how many paperbacks I sell)
Freelance ghostwriting: $150-$300 per book (yes, per BOOK)
Freelance editing: $25-$400 per manuscript (depending on word count)
What does all this mean? Well, I’m a poor-ass writer/editor for one thing, but let’s not think about that, shall we? What it means, on some level, is that I do a hell of a lot of work for little to no money.
Writing is my first love, and I’m proud of whatever I write, even if I never sell a single book, but I’d be lying if I said I’m not more proud when I get paid for all the hard work. It’s as though I have a “real” job, one where I can support myself with something that I love doing.
The same goes for the rest of the above listed “jobs”.
But there are people my age (and younger) who are doing more, and getting paid wayyyy more. They go to an office every day for a fixed amount of time, do the work given to them, have paid sick days, health insurance, and vacation time.
I don’t have any of that. I stay up odd hours writing, I spend eight hours a day editing/ghostwriting, then I work at Petsmart on the weekends.
Like I said, I have yet to apply for a “real” job. (I find that’s a term people use a lot since I’ve gotten out of college. When am I going to get a real job? Why are you tired? It’s not like you have a real 9-5 job. etc.)
The fact of the matter is, like many people caught between college and real life, I’m scared. Plain and simple, I’m terrified of applying for jobs I probably won’t get, going to interviews I’ll probably be too nervous to get through without embarrassing myself, and maybe getting hired for a job that I may or may not like.
I don’t have extra money lying around. I don’t go out and party with my friends, and the only pair of jeans I have has a hole in the crotch that I've sown three times.
But I’m happy.
I love going on the computer and working all day. I love connecting with people and helping them with their work. I love creating my own worlds and characters and putting a book out into the world after a long journey.
This is by no means a steady source of income, but I don’t really care about that.I’m slowly learning that I can either do something I love (while building my resume) between now and getting a “real” job, or hate every second of my actual “real” job. Sure, I could fix my car or get a cat, but I’d be miserable.
I guess what I mean to say is that I’m in no rush. I’m okay with being poor if I’m happy. I’m fine with writing and editing when it could eventually lead me to the right job. I see people my age scrambling, applying for job after job even if it means it’s not what they went to school for or if that they may be stuck behind a desk counting beans or whatever people in cubicles do all day.
I spent most of my college career worrying about getting a job.
They train you, with or without knowing, to apply yourself and stick to deadlines, pay close attention to detail, and to work harder. But how do you tell a company you have these skills when they've heard it from a million other applicants? How do you make them notice you when you are just one more voice, shouting into the void that you too, would like a “real” job.
I feel like we’re all pretending to be Pinocchio or something, telling ourselves that some day, we’ll all be real boys. We’re so concerned with the goal of having an “adult” life with a “real” job that we kill ourselves in trying to make all the pieces fit together and form a life we want to live. We tell fibs about how well our lives are going post graduation, some of us even lie about what we've done in order to impress people, some of them being the ones who we want to hire us.
But I’m already living the life I want to live, for the most part, and I don't have to make any of it up. Yes, I’d love to own a house and go to California to visit my aunt and my cousin, but for now, I’m content. I’m not scared of what I’m doing because I know what I’m doing.
And right now, I’m okay with it.
So this is what I’ve learned since graduation: It doesn't matter.
Don’t look at what other people are doing or what jobs they’re getting. Don’t compare yourself to people who are living a different life than you. If you’re happy and surviving, you’re alright. You will figure it out. Maybe soon, maybe years from now. It doesn't matter. In the words of my stepfather, do what you want and fuck everyone else.