Life After Luxury

17 11 2014

Starberries

I am writing this on a new computer. I am writing this on a new desk. I am a different person, writing.

I think we’re all pretty self-aware of our romanticisms. We day-dream about things we would like to have, places we would like to live, and the people we would someday like to become. But this is a confusing internal process. We make excuses, reason with ourselves, and attempt to justify our limitations with sudden bursts of comfort that never last long enough to matter. Sometimes, we share these secrets, hoping for encouragement to settle the dispute of insanity—rarely gathering the courage that people so often see in others, and never within themselves. To change is the ultimate journey—to let go of yourself, long enough to feel alive. I can feel it in the marrow of my bones and it’s metastasizing. It hurts and it’s uncomfortable and it’s wonderful and I hate it. When I quit my job in August, I left like I was going to die. Then suddenly, I realized I was already dead.

There was once a time, while making introductions, that I would introduce myself as a workaholic—a person that braves a 15-hour day without breaking a sweat. I indulged in the thought of slaving over my profession, and wore my disciplined dedication like a suit of armor. It was a safe and metallic suit that made me feel like I deserved more than everyone else—I deserved to be successful. And it was more exceptionally true because I wasn’t always rewarded for my effort. On paper, I had the best job in the world. However, while working for a luxury publication, my skills became stale and expected, eventually agitated and angry. One day, I decided I didn’t really like that.

But that was a difficult conclusion to draw. By all accounts, working for a luxury brand has its perks. I interviewed celebrities, went to fancy parties, and got to drive exotic cars. I traveled for free, stayed in nice hotels, and everywhere I went doors would open because I had an official press pass. The company’s brand was so strong, that I often felt like my life was becoming just like it—an illusion. There are too many tired euphemisms I could use to describe the gold and glitter. Suffice it to say, the underbelly of this dream was a sober awakening.

Slaving over work is not something to brag about. But at the time, I was surrounded by people who fed on this distinction. For a long time, I never sat down to consider how I felt about what I was doing and to what end. For a long time, I assumed that what was around me mattered a lot more than it actually did.

The truth is, I don’t want to work 15-hour days. The truth is, I want to work as little as possible.

There were logistical problems. I had no idea how to start a business, or generate income. I was not a legal entity, nor did I know how to go about becoming one. But I read some books, talked to some people, and figured all that out. The resulting education was exciting, liberating, and terrifying.

Sometimes, I go to bed and just sweat anxiety—milling over the insurmountable burden I have placed on myself. In the morning, I’m overwhelmed by the potential each new day brings. I feel bipolar. I get scared that I’m not good enough. I worry that the people I love will think I failed. I am afraid to fail.

When my family asked me what I wanted to do while I sorted out my future, I told them I wanted to pick strawberries. In hindsight, that was a fairly romantic response. I imaged the sun and the clouds. I’d wear a hat so that my face wouldn’t get burned, surrounded by people who don’t speak my language. I would listen to music on my iPhone and dance when necessary. This was my fantasy. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to be away from conversation, away from the clatter of bodies hitting the steps as they fall from the corporate ladder. I wanted to come home after a long day of using my hands and know physical exhaustion, instead of feeling mentally ill from philological warfare.

But I’m a realist. And I’m also compulsively dramatic during times of transition. So, I got a morning job at a warehouse.

My hands are cut, my manicure is ruined, and my arms are strong. After I got the hang of things, the warehouse crew gave me my blade—which is really just a box cutter, but I call it my blade. I was surprisingly humbled. They even taught me how to drive a forklift.

I don’t go to parties. I rarely wear makeup these days, and I really don’t give a s*** about San Diego socialites. Instead, I have focused my effort towards building my freelancing business, and after four months of uncertainty, self-doubt, and more rejection letters than I care to mention, I am finally ready to leave the warehouse and work full-time for myself.

Just last week, I secured the first three contracts for Butler Ink & Media, and I got notice from the San Diego Reader that my latest writing project may be an upcoming cover story. I have checks coming to my house in my businesses’ name.

I’m doing all right.

My old boss use to tell me, “There are a million girls out there that would die for your position.”

I guess I don’t feel like dying.








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