When you’re 8 years old, precocious, imaginative, terrible at math but “gifted and talented,” as likely to spend your play time choreographing modern dance performances in your bedroom as videotaping your latest episode of “Tiffy and Stacey” (in which your 6-year-old brother plays endearing fashionista/valley girl Tiffy), never for one moment do you think that at the age of 28 you’ll be between waiting jobs, down to your last 25 dollars and asking your parents to help you make it through the next week or two.
No. You thought you’d be an actress on Broadway (or at least just Off-) or a movie director or a magazine editor or a creative director or an author. Or at least you knew you’d be something extraordinary. It was expected. So the moment you admit to yourself that your current situation doesn’t even amount to ordinary is both a breakthrough and a horrible concession.
The bad news is your original path was leading you away from all of the other things that are important to you (stability, comfort, family). The good news it, you don’t have to scrap it entirely. While your instinct is to admit defeat, it’s possible that your game plan just needs a serious reality check and some major alterations.
Jeff and I had a long talk the other night (the f@#$-up scene from “Away We Go” comes to mind – if you haven’t seen this movie yet, do yourself a great favor and check it out) and took a good hard look at our priorities. The next few years are going to happen very quickly, and how we handle them will impact the direction of the rest of our lives. But, you know, no pressure.
What does all of this mean? It means I can still have an affair with my Nikon, but I can’t put it on a pedestal and act as though it’s my answer to financial salvation. This is not to say I still couldn’t make a career of it someday, but I’ve been creatively experimenting since the day I graduated from college and at some point the time has come to sideline your creativity into an extracurricular activity and push yourself in a more responsible direction. I’m not prepared to take sides with the creative life if it means giving up things like – well, children. At this point we’re so broke we can’t even think about getting married.
I won’t ever be a nine-to-five, cubicle dwelling girl. I know this. But there are plenty of positions that, while I never wanted to take them seriously in the past, I can do and probably do well. I’ve spent the good part of 6 years in a restaurant. For the right establishment, I’m sure I’d make a great manager. Hell, I’m strangely good at hospitality in general and I live in a tourist town. There’s no reason I shouldn’t seriously consider these things.
No reason besides my pride. And pride can turn you into a 30-year-old waitress with a shallow bank account and never-ending credit card debt without batting a lash.
For me, for Jeff and for our future, I choose reality. It may be sobering, but it’s only dismal if you make it so.