Gay on a Budget >> The One Where I Talk About Where I'm Working Next

Hey, Interwebz! It’s been a while but I have an excuse that works for me that you probably don’t need to hear so I’ll just continue because it’s not like this blog is paying my bills or anything. Plus, it’s more for me than anyone else at this point anyways. But rant aside, I wanted to take a minute to work out and share my thoughts about what’s next for me in life.

I just got finished a year of service with an education-based, non-profit called City Year whose mission is, simply, to end the dropout crisis. It was a rough, complicated year that taught me a lot about myself and other people, but that’s a conversation for another time, preferably in a journal. However, one thing my experience taught me that I’d like to share is that I’m not cut out for the 9-5 life. That routine drains me physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally to the point where even the pay doesn’t restore me. I know there’s an immense amount of privilege resting in that statement and I’m not fake enough to ignore it. I want to acknowledge that most of what I’m about to say I’m able to say because I’m lucky.

While I was working at City Year, full-time and then some (think days that started at 7:45 A.M. and ended at 5:15 P.M. not including commute time), I was also freelance writing. The school I served in was my workplace and my home was my workplace so basically I was stressed 24/7 without relief, except for the two days a week I got to be with my supportive partner. This never-ending stream of work and responsibilities and deadlines wore me down to the bone, where I began unleashing my emotions and re-emerging traumas on the people closest to me. Most stayed, some didn’t, but regardless I was heading to a really lonely, unhealthy place if I didn’t make a change.

Luckily, by that point, my service with City Year was basically over. All around me were people planning their next step in life. Everyone was silently panicking, putting on a fake smile to convince everyone that their life was far more together than it actually was, when really we shouldn’t feel the need to impress or comfort anyone else. Our future is ours after all. I didn’t care, though. I had a plan, a crazy one too. I wasn’t going to work for anyone, oh no, I was going to start working for myself.

You see, if you want to escape the 9-5 monotony you have to make big moves, and pull your dreams into the real world. Despite the fact that freelancing during my service nearly destroyed me, it also made me wonderful connections and built my portfolio immensely. Still, freelance writing is hardly reliable. There’s practically no job security, as you can be let go at any time, and payments take far too long to survive on. But I’m planning, organizing spreadsheets, and going through my email every minute of every day, and it’s starting to come together.

I could be making backup plans for if this fails, but I don’t want to. If I’m going to fail at this I want to fail knowing I gave it my all. People give me sideways looks when I tell them my plans, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ll do anything to live the life I want to live, which is being a free writer who has a safe, peaceful place to work, where work doesn’t feel like work and life actually feels like life and not enslavement to bills and dollar bills.

More and more I’m wondering if I’m making the right choice. I’ll probably only know the answer when it’s too late to make a change. But for now, not waking up at 6 feels pretty great.

Gay on a Budget >> Pretty Like My Mom

I turned 24 and nothing really changed. I feel mostly the same except for the world’s expectations of me got higher and its interest in me got lower. It’s odd getting older. I’m not sure if I’m doing it right or if it speaks to my weakness as a person that I still feel like a kid pretending to be an adult. In one more year I’ll be in my mid-twenties, kissing the perks and excuses of youth goodbye. I’m not ready. I honestly don’t want to grow older. If I could stay 24, perpetually young, I would.

Turning 24 has made me feel more worthless and privileged than ever before. Here I am, obsessed with the idea of staying young while too many people were never even given a choice about growing up. Through trauma and abuse, these people had to grow up because it was the only way they could survive. I complain and worry, but I got to have a childhood. I played Nintendo 64, searched for Easter Eggs, swam in the summer, and was blissfully ignorant of, at least for 13 years, the true financial states of my family members. I was lucky. I was privileged. My marginalized identities, like gay and bigender, don’t change that I have privilege nor that said privilege has caused me to intentionally or unintentionally marginalize others. While I complain to my partner and my friends about my adulthood worries, I rub my luck in their faces, disrespecting the journey they’ve had to endure. I apologize, always, when I feel I’ve made a mistake, but I never really know if they resent me beneath it all.

I wonder if someday the idea of growing up will be more appealing to me or if maybe it will terrify me less. I feel in many ways that I’ve survived but that I haven’t really lived, which is what everyone says because what is a fully lived life anyways, but I just want to feel my feelings. Crippled by anxiety, depression, and over thinking, I locked myself away in my room for far too long missing the chance to grow and help others grow by challenging myself to step into my chaos zone. I think too much chaos is a bad thing, but it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that I spent years hiding from anything that even remotely triggered me. Even still to this day I do this, for even the smallest things. I will watch the same show on Netflix two or three times through, on repeat, instead of starting a new show because a new show might make me feel things and I don’t want to feel things. I’m 24 and I still panic getting on the phone. When things have relied on a phone call I’ve almost always given up unless someone literally forced the phone into my hand, or my job mandated it. I guess I didn’t need those jobs or refunds or help that badly.

This is all just mindless complaining because in the end I will continue to get older. I will have to change. My baby face will stop looking so babyish soon and I’ll be just another adult without the youthful charm that I think makes me special and interesting.

I just wonder, though, does it happen all at once? Will I look at a selfie one day and realize I look old? When that moment happens, how will I feel? If I’m anything like I am now, I’m most likely to do something reckless and dangerous like going online and buying all the vegan skin creams I can find, hoping that somehow these mushy concoctions can reverse time. The silver-lining in all this is that if I age anything like my Mom I’ll be really pretty for a long time.

I don’t know what tomorrow, let alone 24 has in store, but I’ve survived through arguably the most confusing and tumultuous times of one’s life and I’m still healthy and alive and a decent human being. Compared to all the bullshit of growing up–and the bullshit now–writing a novel or pitching magazines doesn’t sound so hard.

Gay on a Budget >> Life Updates You Probably Don't Care About

1. There are only two months or so until the current program I’m working in is over. This is good news. I’m fulfilled (sometimes), but overall I’ve found so much of the work I do to be tedious and limiting, and the environment to be stressful and unsupportive. I’m very ready to move on to something else, even if that something else hasn’t been confirmed yet. I know I’ll find my way.

2. I completed my first volunteer shift at my local PAWS (Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society) shelter. Starting in new places is always hard for me because of my anxiety, but I was lucky enough to have a partner who also loves animals and volunteerism, so he went along with me. I had a great time working with all the cats and dogs and being awake at 9:00 AM instead of being dead in my bed. The day felt fuller to me, in a good way. I plan on volunteering again every weekend or every other weekend, because the shelter is right down the street and I really have no excuse.

3. A week or so ago I had this amazing realization about this really bad habit I have. It might be less of a habit, and more of a need, but what it causes in me is this urge to recreate best friendship with as many people as possible. I get even remotely close to someone and I find myself pushing the relationship to be bigger, better, faster, stronger. The reality is though, that if you have even one or two best friends you should consider yourself blessed. I have four people who have really reached that deep level with me and instead of being grateful for this, I keep focusing on the casual relationships I have and wondering why these people also don’t want to be my best friend. I’ve hurt myself for so long because of this. I feel like I’m not good enough, that people don’t really like me. But really, who cares? I have almost one handful of best friends so if I get more someday, awesome, if not, I’ll live, and probably even continue to thrive.

4. Freelancing has been stressful. For a while now I’ve been consistently in the rejection part of freelancing… whether that be unanswered pitches or direct rejections. It hurts and I get really defeated after a while, but I’m in a better place than I would’ve been a few months ago. The rejections still admittedly bother me, but at this point, I’ve accepted that rejection is part of life, especially when you’re a creative person. People aren’t always going to get it and that’s ok. People aren’t always going to think you’re cool and that’s ok. People are going to say no and that’s ok because it only takes one or two people saying yes to really change things.

5. My anxiety and depression still cripple me from time to time, mostly in the form of the physical exhaustion and restless mind combination, but I’m getting work done more lately than before. I’ve gotten myself working on some good routines, like actually eating healthier and committing to my vegan diet, having a consistent beauty regimen that I enjoy, reading ten pages or more every day (now I’m reading the biography of Frida Kahlo), and writing in my journal five days out of the week (I get two days to take off if I feel overwhelmed).

6. Life is hard but I’m still hoping and trying.