I’m not usually this candid about my personal life, and honestly, I’m nervous about being so open. But 2013 was a strange year for me. It was the year I quit my day job and tried to make a living freelancing. Without context, that probably seems like a poor decision. I’d grown to hate what I was doing, but it was more than just the typical grumblings of a dissatisfied employee. I had gotten to the point where I dreaded, and even got sick to my stomach, at the mere thought of going into work each day. I hated what I was doing, and I wanted to put my degree to use.
I’d saved up a bit of money to live off of, and because I still live with my folks, I don’t have many bills. It’s a luxury most people aren’t afforded, and I’m grateful that I’m in the position to take this kind of risk. Now, I know some people scoff at the idea of a 25-year-old still living with his parents. To some, that’s seen as mooching, lazy or even pathetic. However, in many parts of the world, it’s not uncommon for children to live with their parents until they’re married and ready to start a family of their own.
But that sounds like I’m making excuses for my current situation. I’m not. But I’m also not embarrassed by it, either. Many of you understand firsthand just how bad this job market is, because many of you also went to college for four years or more and found yourselves in similar predicaments.
I realize finding a job that values my hard-earned degree isn’t just going to land in my lap. I get that. It’s just that I’m no longer willing to work an unfulfilling job I hate for minimum wage. I’m not above working a menial job, but I couldn’t continue working one that was eating at my soul. I realize a lot (or all) of this might be news to some of you. It wasn’t really a secret, but I wasn’t advertising it.
As an aside, the people who work in the service industry are warriors. They get jerked around in every direction, are rarely shown appreciation, and typically aren’t compensated as well as they should be. I may have hated the jobs I worked through college and after, but the friends I made along the way are invaluable. They’re some of the greatest, friendliest and most caring people I’ve ever met. There’s also a certain type of camaraderie that develops when working in the service industry. You learn to enjoy commiserating.
Anyway, you hear jokes about people living in their parents’ basement and maintaining a blog, however, that’s literally what I’m doing. It’s easy to get your work published online, but it’s not so easy to get paid for it. Currently, I’m spending time on my own blog to keep my writing sharp, but to also display my work for potential employers.
On top of that, writing is therapeutic. Even if no one reads what I write, just getting it out of my head and onto “paper” helps me process my thoughts. If I have ideas going around in my brain, but I can’t lay them all out to see, then I struggle to know exactly what I think. The best way I know to describe it is to say it’s like a load of laundry in the dryer. Sure, you can see pieces of various articles of clothing spinning around as one giant mess of fabric, but until you stop the machine, take it all out and lay it out in front you, you can’t know exactly what all was in there.
Everyone’s gotta find their thing, and for me, this is it. I can’t really envision myself doing anything else. I’ve gotten compliments on my writing before, and that’s always flattering, but truthfully, I always question whether I’m even that good at it. I think I’m better at writing than I am at anything else, but that’s not really saying much. If any of my journalism teachers, former editors or mass-comm peers read this, I’m sure they could easily rip me a new one with a red pen. I swear, passive verbs are going to be the end of me.
But to get back on topic, I’m just trying to find my way. Ideally, I’d love to write about games, cartoons, anime and other geeky crap for a living. It’s what I love and know best. But sometimes it’s difficult not to compare myself to the people I graduated high school and college with. I can’t use their success, careers and lives as a means of measuring my own progress in life. But it’s hard not to. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m thrilled for everyone’s accomplishments, but it definitely puts my life in a different light.
But right now, I’ll take almost any writing gig I can get if it’ll pay something. I’ve applied for a few positions, but either never heard back, or was told I lacked experience. How do people expect you to gain experience if you can’t even get your foot in the door in the first place? Oh, so you want me to get experience before I get experience? Yeah, okay, sure. That makes sense.
But I digress. Honestly, I just want a job that makes me happy. I’m not trying to get rich. I want to be able to comfortably support myself, of course, but I also need to find fulfillment in my career. I need to do something I’m passionate about, even if it doesn’t pay the big bucks. I know to some people this all sounds like new age, feel-good cheerleading, but hey, I went to a liberal arts university. What’d you expect?
Another personal issue of mine that has been increasingly present over the years is my weight. Last year on New Year’s Eve (talkin’ ’bout 2012), I wrote a Facebook post about not giving in and continuing my fight to lose weight. Skip forward to the present day and I’m heavier than I’ve ever been.
For a short while, I did manage to drop about 30 lbs, but it all came rushing back when I got frustrated by how I had to change my eating habits. But I have not given up. I have, however, resigned myself to the fact that my weight is something I’ll struggle with for the rest of my life.
Since about the third or fourth grade, I’ve been at least a little overweight. In middle school and high school, I was a husky kid, but active and healthy. But now, when I look in the mirror or see current pictures of myself, I don’t even recognize that person. I hate what I see, because I know that’s not me.
I have friends who’ve taken the initiative to better themselves by shedding the pounds, but there are none I admire more than my best friend Matt. If there’s anyone who understands what it’s like to live and struggle as someone not blessed with an elite metabolism, it’s Matt. Now, not to take anything away from the people who work hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle, but if you didn’t grow up as the fat kid, then you just can’t understand.
So whether he knows it or not, I look to Matt as a source of inspiration, because he and I walked in the sames shoes (not literally, duh) for a long, long time. But he lost an incredible amount of weight all on his own. For a time in college, I managed to lose about 80 lbs, so I know I’m capable of such feats. It’s just a matter of getting started and maintaining confidence all the way through to my goal weight. And then it’s a matter of sticking with it once I’m there.
It is so hard, but I have to get my weight under control for the sake of my health, among a myriad of other reasons.
So that’s my 2013, although not exactly in a nutshell. This is sort of a long read, and it’s not the most organized piece of writing, but if you’ve stayed with me to this point, I truly appreciate it.
I have no idea what 2014 has in store for me, but I’ve got a good feeling about it.