I confess, I have a really good gig. At least, for now*. My schedule is flexible and I get paid to do what comes naturally to me: I write, edit, come up with creative ideas… all of which I’d do anyway, whether I was paid or not. Just like I’m doing right now writing this. I could do it in my sleep, and sometimes I think I do. This arrangement gives me the time and freedom to pursue my music and personal artistic ventures on the side. So, what could be wrong with that, right?
Well, a lot, actually. Because the work I do is for a nationally-known, narcissistic, piece-of-sh_t blowhard demagogue. I would be SO embarrassed to tell you who, and to admit that I’ve been enabling this a-hole for many years. I put lipstick on the pig every day and smile and nod, and pretend that the pig is legit. Even though I detest the pig and what the pig says and does and stands for, and the pig’s thousands of adoring supporters, too. It all makes me wanna throw up, truth be told.
And, of course, I’d lose my job in a heartbeat if anyone at the pig’s organization knew what I actually thought about its divisive ideology. I (sort of) feel guilty that some of my efforts regularly go to keeping a bunch of sad sacks sending their money in to support this tired old crap farm. It’s really disheartening. I feel like such a slut and a phony. Someday, I hope to never look back on these desperate times of having to sell myself out just to pay the bills…
(from “This Is My Job” on the Life EP by The Days on Earth)
*And on top of it all, the pig is old and when he inevitably kicks the bucket, this gig will go away just like that. So, the reality of scrambling to find another way to pay my bills is constantly hanging over my head. Because I’ve been there before (more than once!) and I know how much that sucks. Unemployment sucks. Uncertainty sucks. Feeling impotent sucks. Having no money sucks. So I keep my fingers crossed and continue to compromise myself, one day at a time.
What else can I do? I’m practically unemployable because of my age. Ageism is definitely at play here, despite my solid-gold work record and résumé. I was a hot shot for many years in the ad agency biz. Yeah, but so f_cking what? My boxes and boxes of awards mean absolutely nothing anymore (if they ever did). I have always been an exemplary worker: I’m smart, self-motivated, I bring out the best in people, I’m a team player, a problem solver… I’d hire me in a heartbeat. Except…
I have never been an office politics guy, so my “network” is practically nonexistent. Sure, I have a LinkedIn page, but it’s about as useful as my Facebook page was, which I shut down over a year ago. I left my ad agency days behind long ago in a city 1,300 miles from where I now live, and any contacts I might still have in that world haven’t heard my name in twenty years. Plus, I’m too jaded to do that kind of work anymore. Talk about compromising your values. Sheesh!
Besides, who wants to go backward in their career (or life)? Not me. I’ve always wanted to keep moving forward. I have never enjoyed looking back. Unfortunately, I have to also admit that after all these years, I still have no idea what I want to “be” when I grow up. Which means I’m essentially stuck in-between the past and the future. WTF?? I wonder every day, where do I go from here? How do I move forward? I have no clue what else to do, so I just keep plugging away at my music and screenplays and ideas for children’s books and blogs and… (am I crazy?)
And I feel isolated and alone because nobody knows any of this except my closest circle of immediate family (we’re talking, like, three people total). My friends don’t even know. I’ve moved on. In so many ways. A long time ago. But where am I, then? And who am I?
It sucks to be so afraid to just “be myself,” to let it all hang out, and say and do what I really believe. I so admire those who are all of that all of the time. Guys like David Gilmour and Roger Waters. They’re comfortable being who they are. Like John Lennon was. And Bernie Sanders is.
For the moment, though, I’m sorry to say that I’m embarrassed and disappointed in myself that I have to continue to hide in anonymity. And be what people expect me to be. And sell out to pigs to eke out a living. It isn’t that I want to be this way. Again, I’m embarrassed and ashamed.
I keep thinking everything would just be so different if I were financially independent. Not even rich or anything. Mainly if I was just unafraid of losing my job and being broke again. Then I could be confident staking out my life on my own terms. I wouldn’t care what this person or that person thought of my lifestyle and opinions. Wouldn’t be a jerk, just at peace with myself. God, that would be so great! That’s where I hope to be someday.
And, of course, I wish this for you, too.