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A Bit of Background

An undead woman in a togo holding a wine glass from which is issuing purple smoke and skulls.
Artist's rendition me a thousand years from now still telling this story.

I'd love to tell you all that I've always wanted nothing more than to be a professional artist and I was willing to sacrifice everything to chase that dream. However, I'm extremely risk averse. The plan in college was to take a day job for a bit "while I got my art career off the ground" and suddenly two decades passed and I still didn't have an art career. Hmmm.

Then last fall I went through a rough patch with the day job. It wasn't a particularly noteworthy scenario and I've been through it many times before. I won't go into details but it was the kind of rough patch where you say to yourself, "Self, maybe we should be updating our resume. Just in case." Whereupon I opened up my resume, stared at it for a few minutes, and had the somewhat alarming realization that I just couldn't stand the thought of interviewing. It wasn't the prospect of a whole new job that had me defeated, it was the sheer enormity of the high-effort tedium I would have to go through* to get yet another "temporary" day job "while I got my art career off the ground". It felt like failure and anyway, I just couldn't be bothered. So I did what any reasonable person would do and called someone smarter than me.

I called this friend and before I could get to my scenario she launched into her own list of job issues she was having. She was about to be forced out of a job and she knew it. We were both in professional situations that were frustrating, irritating, aggravating, and sometimes downright enraging. But they weren't particularly unique. The reality of working a corporate job for a while is that your employer is bigger than you and most problems you have are not about you at all. Layoffs? It's not about you, it's just the company is investing in other areas. Have a boss you can't stand? It's not about you, it's just that the company needs someone to run this area and your shitty boss is the best they can do right now. There's a certain cognitive dissonance that comes with investing your own hard work into something bigger and greater (we hope) than you only to be told not to take it personally when it all goes bad. The tone of that call on both sides was not "Oh my god can you believe this bullshit?!". It was "I thought I was done with this bullshit." And then "I want to be done with this bullshit."

The problem was I'd never started a business before. I didn't know how to build one. I didn't know what the process looked like.

When I explained this, Friend said, "Oh it's easy" and then spent five minutes laying out the next ten years of my life and to her credit it all sounded so simple. Not easy, but straightforward. She said it takes a year to get a business together. I wasn't willing to wait a year and I wasn't sure I had a year to wait anyway, so I soft launched a month later. I spent December practicing, getting to know the moving parts, and now I'm here for real.

I still have the day job and I'm grateful for it, but I want it to be the last one I have for a while. Possibly forever.

* In my field, a typical interview process for a single company is a phone screen with a recruiter followed up by one to three phone interviews with various people, then a full day of back to back interviews with would-be team members to make sure I can solve the problems they have, the problems they might have later, and the problems they'll almost certainly never have all while not being a jerk about it. Then another phone interview or two to nail down specifics. And that's all just for one company. Better hope you get that first job offer because otherwise you now have a second full time job called "interviewing" that you have to keep secret from your first one.

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This is very well said. Didn’t realize you were so stressed previously, but it’s good that you did, and acted to fix it. Good luck with Art!

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I wasn't really stressed, but I was aware that if I didn't make a plan I'd be stressed later. Now I'm stressed trying to keep 2 jobs going, but it's a good stress.

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