I am so San Francisco right now. I am sipping a coffee snob’s wet dream of an iced coffee, sitting in a cafe with reclaimed wood tables and ample outlets. It’s 1:00 pm on a weekday. This is all very new for me.
Today, I write from a new cafe, in a new part of town, at the beginning of a new part of my life. Until this summer, I had a classic 9 to 5 in the bustling Financial District of San Francisco. Graduating college at the beginning of the Great Recession and spending the next three years working a bajillion part-time jobs to pay rent and buy ramen, I was thrilled to finally land an office job with benefits. I could finally get that mole checked out!
And I liked it. I liked wearing business casual cardigans. I liked my morning Starbucks baristas. I liked the various assortment of paper clips. But after four years at an office job, I realized I was changing. When I started, I was a theater maker who was only working a 9 to 5 to support my theater habit. Now I was barely writing, and my directing was lazy. I could rarely be seen in a theater audience. I thought money was going to give me freedom to make art, but I couldn’t seem to make money and have energy to pursue my passions. I felt like I was failing myself. I was having naked stress dreams. I was regularly crying into glasses of wine. I was buying a lot of coral-colored clothing. I was losing it.
So I quit.
It wasn’t like, SEE YOU IN HELL!-middle-fingers-blazing-throwing-coffee-pot-on-the-breakroom-floor-knocking-art-off-the-wall kind of quitting. It was a polite and well-thought out departure. There were hugs. There were cards. There was a goodbye party.
Then the crippling self-doubt set in. Oh my god, what was I thinking!? I quit a paying job to WRITE PLAYS? Great idea, Meg. I hope you like the taste of cardboard and giving HJs for money.
But I took a breath and remembered the plan. I am taking a few months off, knocking out some passion projects, falling in love with theater again, and taking the time to find a career path I can excel in, without sacrificing the best things about myself. After two months of unemployment, I have written over 30 short plays, been accepted into an exclusive playwriting incubator, and started writing for two online publications (this being one of them – boom!). I have also seen more theater in these two months than I have in the past year, and I am crushing hard all over it. Unemployment has been pretty good for me; I’m figuring my shit out. So…now that whole career thing…
How do people do this? There are some people who knew what they wanted to do since they were wee babes and those people went on to study something practical in college. That wasn’t me. All I ever loved to do was play pretend. That translated into acting, singing, writing, improv comedy, and NOT BAGS OF MONEY.
Do English majors eventually find a job they can put up with? Do they ever find something they love? And if they do find something they love, do they turn their backs on their original passions? Does it ever work out? If this is a play, how does it end?
I’m holding out for a deus ex machina over here.