Our jobs are all bullshit.
Now, that doesn’t mean they’re bad or stupid or meaningless. I don’t say that as a way to justify walking away from our jobs (our dreams, probably) right now, flipping desks in the process — I mean, when I say that our jobs are bullshit, that our grandparents have no idea what it is we do. Shit, some of our parents have no idea what we do. Are you in the arts? Then you get it: “I write stuff on the Internet”/”I make music”/”I do comedy”/”I act” all sound like made-up storybook careers that we told high school guidance counsellors we’d like to try before being told to settle down and be a teacher. (Although, for the record, my guidance counsellor told me to go to college for journalism because university wasn’t realistic for me (cool!), and neither was the type of writing I wanted to do AKA the writing I do now. Thanks, girl! 2002 realness represent.)
The thing about our bullshit, storybook-sounding jobs is that for the most part, they involve a freakish amount of work. And honestly, “work” to us is a goddamn daydream to people with “real” (yes, I’ll say “real”) jobs like friends of ours who are nurses, doctors, lawyers, social workers, therapists, construction works, whatever who work on their feet, all day, to help other people. “What did you do today?” they ask. “I wrote about a TV show and why we should watch it” I answer. And then I immediately feel like a dick because I just went on about being stressed out over things like Twitter and Facebook shares and who said what and why wasn’t my editor emailing me and WHAT IF I didn’t get to write for a cool site I was hoping to write for and they tell me about somebody dying on a stretcher in the ER. Where they work, as people whose sole jobs are to save fucking lives.
That’s what I mean when I say our jobs are bullshit. For the most part — and again, this mostly pertains to those of us in the arts — our jobs are 100% doing things we really, really love. We chose to say, “No thank you, I would like to struggle to have the privilege to make things and to decide things for myself and to sit at a computer and listen to Taylor Swift and talk about what Taylor Swift means to me.” We have to work really hard, yes, but we chose that. We chose all of it. We are choosing right now, even, to have a good day or a bad day or to feel grateful or to dwell on things like how hard it is to write a joke for this thing that requires a joke. Or which event to go to. Or why so-and-so unfollowed us on Twitter. And saying all of these out loud sounds insane and unappreciative, because it kind of is. If you were to go back in time and explain to somebody in 1999 what we did for a living, they would tell us swiftly and fearfully that OUR JOBS ARE NOT REAL.
I mean, they are. But they don’t have to be. Nothing is sure. So if you want to keep yours and keep a place, work hard, show up, and calm the fuck down.
And of course, 99% of this is a pep talk to myself. I am the queen of freaking out over things my friends will say. “WHAT IF THIS PERSON READS THIS THING AND THEN THEY DECIDE TO NOT FOLLOW MY WORK ON THE INTERNET ANYMORE” “SO-AND-SO WON’T FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER DOES THIS MEAN THAT I SHOULD NEVER WRITE TO THEM, EVER?” I worry.
Those are non-things. Things like that are not why we signed up to create or to make jokes or to write or draw or paint or create in any way that means we get to semi-create our own hours that span everything from a morning to 14 consecutive hours. Those (the neuroses) are what sound made-up (kind of like our fake jobs that didn’t exist when we were 19 when trying to describe them to, say, Lithuanian grandpas). Especially since working hard and showing up is what we’re in charge of, and nothing else.
The only way we can prove that our jobs are real or concrete or that we deserve them is by working hard. (Not hard enough to pass out from exhaustion, but hard enough to feel like we’re actually doing something aside from basking in a sense of entitlement.) The only way to make sure we’ve earned it, is by continuing to adapt, to work, and to reality check, constantly. Nothing is guaranteed, and nothing is handed to us, and we will — and do, usually — feel better when we put our heads down, get to work, and calm down.
Our jobs are bullshit, absolutely. But not everybody can be a doctor or a nurse, not everybody can build houses or counsel people who need help or defend the accused in a court of law. Some of us can only take what’s in our brains and try to make it into something other people can enjoy. So let’s remember that the next time we consider a typo a disaster, or somebody unfollowed us on Twitter. Those are just small details that make up a massive picture that comes together after we slay and hustle.
Also, those small details usually lead to learning bigger and more important life lessons like, “Make sure you’re DM-ing the right person on Twitter” and “Communication! Way better than just assuming things.” All lessons we can apply to the most important one of all: just get it done.