Life In The Real World, Day 97: So You’ve Quit Your Job…NOW WHAT?
The short answer is: the world keeps spinning.
It’s been over a month since I quit my unfulfilling, entry-level job, forfeiting a steady paycheck and schedule for the chance to work my own hours from home. I wanted to give myself a chance to try something new, spend more time working on my portfolio, and apply to more writing and marketing positions in the city.
And honestly, I can’t tell if I’m failing or not.
Typically these “Life In The Real World” posts have more of a point, but consider this one a life update instead. At some point every day, I stop what I’m doing and think “NOW WHAT?” and it’s somehow both maddening and beautiful that a question like that is a common occurrence.
For work and rent and money-things, I spend most days either in my apartment or in a café down the street, writing website copy for small business through the online freelancing site Elance.com. I’m doing a lot of surface-level marketing writing, stuff that entices people to call the business, but not much else (here’s an example of a landscaping site I wrote). I was lucky enough to be accepted to a “private talent cloud”, which gives me access to jobs that will actually pay my rent, instead of the (frankly, insulting) offers that populate most of the main pages.
I never realized exactly how hard it is to make a living as a professional writer—after the twentieth person asking if I can write news articles at a rate of 30 cents for every 100 words, I’m beginning to think it might actually be easier to make it as a musician. I don’t think I’ll ever consider being an English major a mistake, but at least I have a slightly better idea about what it actually means to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education that offers a lower salary on average than something like banking.
It seems like as I continue to get older, I understand more of the “reality” behind the things that I think I know. For example, I’ve always known that it’s hard to find a job as a writer. But now that I’ve seen 300 job postings that offer 10 bucks for a full day of work, the hardship has been visualized. In grade school, we spent a few years collecting soda tabs to help visualize what a million of something looked like. it’s overwhelming when you actually see it in front of you, and reframes your entire perspective just a fraction. Life is like that—constantly showing you what the real world actually looks like, always trying to answer that unspoken “NOW WHAT?”.
Anyway…on the plus side, I’m actually writing again, and this blog has gone a long way towards helping me find pieces for my portfolio. I had a meeting with a marketing guy who said that this whole personal blog should be scrapped and transformed into a music industry blog, so that every single post was oriented towards finding me a job. While that might be practical, it also means that I couldn’t just write about music I enjoy (like Joni Mitchell or Lord Huron) because it wouldn’t have a “purpose”. I couldn’t post a poem because I feel like it. So that doesn’t work for me. Truthfully, this blog has been getting more repeat traffic than ever, even as the posts per week has decreased a little. That’s enough of a testament to me that I’m doing something right, although I’ll try to write more portfolio-useful stuff (I’ve got a piece coming up about RapGenius that I’m excited about).
I don’t know. Maybe it’s the time of year, with the world slowing down around the holidays and businesses not exactly posting new positions every day. Maybe it’s the idea that I need to make three different business cards (music, writing, marketing) because I don’t know exactly what my next move is. Maybe it’s just the snowfall that kept me from running today. Yet somehow all of these things fail to crack the sense of inertia that comes with not having to report to anyone and anything. Once I became the only person responsible for my well-being, I started to realize how easy it is to do a poor job at that.
That’s probably why the most fulfilling thing in my life right now is my coaching position at my old high school. I work with the mid-distance and distance runners, and it’s exciting to see them working so hard. They have their first mini-meet tomorrow, and I’m really excited to see their improvement from cross country. It also helps that I can also do my own training while I help with theirs, which gives me a time and a place. In the last month, I’ve come to realize that I absolutely thrive on a schedule, even if it’s a weird one that leaves me in my car for 2 hours a day. If the goal is worth it, it doesn’t really matter how much I’m working.
So now what? Like so many other people in the world, I’m 23 without a steady job. Christmas is coming and the lights are up in my apartment. I’m probably going to eat some soup for dinner. “NOW WHAT?” is whatever you make it.