Trust me. I tried it. Did you know working full time requires a lot of energy? It really does. So if you’re not already working somewhere that’s somewhat related to your “dream field,” you’re going to need double the energy to make things happen for you. Some people, like nurses, get super lucky because their field is always in need of more people like them. Once they finish school all they have to do is like pick a city and BOOM they’re employed. There are so many jobs you can do literally anywhere: teacher, lawyer, doctor, you name it! My mom always told me to get one of those jobs, but I didn’t listen because I wanted to pursue a career in the creative side of the entertainment industry. I fooled myself into thinking I had it all figured out.
I graduated from film school a little over two years ago and almost immediately started working a totally unrelated job in the service industry that ended up taking over most of my productive time. All I wanted was to work part-time as a server so I could look for freelance gigs around town until I felt comfortable enough to start my own small production company. Instead, I went from part-time server to full-time assistant general manager within two years and got a taste of what it’s like to be paid in salary. To be totally fair, though, I was extremely #blessed to have that job. People have been moving to Austin in hordes for the past couple of years and chances of getting hired in the service industry without hardcore experience are slim.
The time commitment didn’t matter to me much at fist because the money was steady and usually I got to leave all my work-related troubles behind when I clocked out. Service industry jobs are popular amongst creative types, so I got to meet a bunch of cool people who were on a similar situation as me, which was probably one of the coolest aspects of the job. It was honestly the best case scenario for someone who cannot deal with the concept of a 9-5 job in an office setting, but the whole time I couldn’t stop thinking about my biggest issue with the service industry lifestyle. Forget the fact that a lot of people still don’t know how to treat service staff politely, or the fact that the minimum wage for servers in Texas is still $2.13 an hour, or the fact it probably didn’t even matter at all that I had college degree somewhere at home.
My problem with spending so much time and energy working in the service industry to pay for a living is that I just felt so freaking tired to do anything else outside of that. After busting my ass for hours making other people happy, all I wanted to do was go home, smoke copious amounts of pot, and watch Netflix. And because serving other people is super stressful, most times I would end up spending all my hard-earned cash getting drunk at neighboring bars and restaurants instead of working on my craft. It was the ugliest of vicious cycles, and I didn’t have the will power to get my shit together. Of course my brain stopped producing creative ideas. Of course I wasn’t even looking out for new opportunities. If I wasn’t working I was too busy being hungover or sleeping until noon, or both.
“You just need to focus” they say. “Make the time” they say. People don’t know shit. In the perfect world, I would use all my free time to get creative, practice my skills, and share my work. In this world, all my free time goes to doing laundry and working out and commuting to work and buying groceries and cleaning my apartment. You know, adult things… I recently quit my full-time job to focus on finding a better balance. Perhaps working part-time jobs will be inevitable. Maybe I just need to take more risks. Either way, I know that if I have to work more than 40 hours a week to make a living, I want to make sure I’m also working towards creating the life I want.