When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Writer… or a Grocery Store Worker

Talking to my old man who I’ll call Tom last night felt like talking to my dad, and I wanted to cry and yell like a teenager that he doesn’t understand and to get off my back. My interpretation of his words was that good jobs don’t exist—good jobs being those that we find fulfilling and that pay well. His intention was to tell me the reality of his work which is that we must accept rejection, not take criticism personally, and parts of the job are disagreeable but the good outweighs the bad so he continues working at his job, his job basically being almost the same as Don Draper’s, but not quite because this is an anonymous blog in which I’m trying to protect everyone’s identity, especially my own. Of course Tom would love to make paintings and get paid to do that, but he doesn’t get to do that. My initial response to his paternal advice was that maybe I’m just one of those people who works in a grocery store, and I didn’t say it but thought that maybe I’d just move to some tropical location and be a grocery store worker there instead of this cold, snowy place.

What spawned all of this was Tom’s question which is the same question he asks me every time we talk, which is, “Any headway on the career change plan?” I felt like I was the husband and he the wife waiting for me to change, or that he’s my parent, waiting for me to grow up. My head tells me it’s so he can decide if I’m a keeper or a gold-digging sugar baby in search of a rescuer. And I’d be lying to myself if I said I didn’t want a rescuer.

My latest career change idea, I explained to my old man, is the same thing it was last time he asked me (but I didn’t say that second part), which is to become a copywriter.

All of the old fears and what-ifs tell me I can’t do it, no one will like my writing, no one will hire me, and I won’t be able to make a living as a writer. But I’m sick of these negative thoughts that only serve to keep me down, and I’ve decided to tell them fuck off. Someone will like my writing. Someone will hire me. I am a talented writer, and I can be funny and interesting, when life’s not kicking my ass. And honestly, what else can I do?

Seriously. Let’s think about this. I can work in a grocery store, which doesn’t pay my bills. I can go back into online advertising, which made me miserable. I can try to make it as a college professor, which would most likely be long hours with little pay and no tenure. I can study something else, like nutrition, which would require student loan debt. Or I can suck it up and build a portfolio so that I can try to become a copywriter at a marketing agency, where I may not write about subject matter that interests me, but I’d make a decent salary that would pay my bills, and I’d be able to use my talent and education.

When I’m struggling with something and someone tells me the reality of the situation, I hear negative. My translation is You can’t do it, This job sucks, All jobs suck, You’ll never find anything you like, You’ll have to get a job writing about content that bores you, No one will like your writing.

So that’s why I’m not excited about this career change plan. Tom explained that he has to deal with rejection in his line of work in which he gets to be “creative” for good money, but he doesn’t create what he really wants to create because he has to pay the bills. Suck it up and grow up is what I heard.

But the thing is, I am out of ideas.

My fear is that if I don’t make a decision and act on it, I’ll stay at the grocery store forever. And if I do that, who will I be? I’ll be a grocery store worker. As much as I’d love to be a humble grocery store worker who finds joy in everyday life, who feels happy being everyday people, who doesn’t define herself by her job title, that woman is not me.

Some words of wisdom from Bob Dylan:

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