Yes, I Actually Am Busy (And Other Things You Should Know)

A photo by Steinar La Engeland.’s a handy tip for all you self-employed losers  dreamers out there: make sure you have your answers ready for all the forthcoming questions about your lifestyle.

When I quit my job to become a writer, I was not embarrassed to admit my only plan was to follow my passions. I didn’t care if people thought that was stupid, or irresponsible, or over-confident in my abilities. I wanted it, so I did it. I’m proud of that even on the days I resemble a bed-ridden invalid more than a writer.

What I soon found myself embarrassed about was the Explanation of My Lifestyle that became the answer to every polite question of, “So, how’s writing going?”

Woe to the poor, interested acquaintance who by their own manners is now forced to listen to me explain how writing actually is going; their face, once beaming, now grows less sunny and their eyes glaze as the unwashed creature in front of them rattles on and uses words like “pitches” and “it’s a season” and “generally confused.”

So to clear up any confusion, and to arm you with knowledge the next time you run into me somewhere, allow me to explain:

Yes, I actually am busy.

No, I cannot do that thing for you at 2 PM. While it is true I make my own schedule, my schedule ideally still revolves around normal work hours. While it would be super nice of me to rework my schedule to do that thing, I’m probably not going to.

When I say I worked today, that is literally what I mean.

I do not mean I found a part-time job and did not tell you about it. I literally mean I got up, opened my laptop, and did work.

No, I do not get paid to write this blog.

That would be the goal. Hence, the working.

But yes, I have a job.

This is my job. I make minuscule, random amounts of money right now, I have no benefits, and my co-worker is my kitten who is more like my small child. I get that this is confusing, but if I don’t treat this work as a job, it will never become one.

Yes, I can pay my rent.

Only the bold ask me this question up front. I know this is the question people are dying to ask me but find impolite or invasive. Whatever. It’s an obvious question to ask about my life right now.

Through a series of events after graduation, I was able to pay off my student loans. I have also invested in saving money gifted to me since the time I was 13 and wanted to pay for my own flight to New Zealand (which I did, by the way), so I am currently in a position to commit to this lifestyle, at least for a little while.

Not everyone can do this, and I hate that. It sucks there is a balance between encouraging people to take risks and follow their dreams while honoring that this is not always a possibility because of different life circumstances. (There is a great article here about this same dynamic when it comes to our generation’s obsession with travel.)

If this bugs you about me, oh well.

Yes, I would love to write a book!

While working on my book isn’t something I do on a daily basis, my dream would be to write a book. I’ll keep you posted. 😉

No, I have no idea what I’m doing.

I don’t say this like, “Oh, I’m just a riot, aren’t I? No idea what I’m doing! How clever! How witty! How millennial of me!”

No, seriously, I have no idea how to be a self-employed writer.

I don’t know what projects to put my time towards (blog? social media? freelance?), I don’t know how to file self-employment taxes, I don’t know what I can realistically hope to achieve within a year, and most days I don’t know how to do the number one most important thing when it comes to writing: write.

I can put sentences together and I can literally punch my fingers into a keyboard to form words, but to write something, anything, that is meaningful and requires a push in thought and craft on my part? That’s when I get so mad I want to eat five bagels.

But I’m doing it anyway.

Slowly but surely, I am doing it. There is laziness, there is fatigue, there is confusion, there is online shopping and distracting period cramps and accidental naps and bitter self-esteem issues that wreak havoc on not taking my own crazy abilities seriously.

It does not feel triumphant. It is only when I imagine the future me, looking back on that time I quit my job to do what I sort of thought was the right thing to do that the hours and days of feeling useless begin to feel triumphant, if only because one day they will be.

If you want to follow along on my struggle for self-actualization and/or see pictures of that kitten I mentioned earlier, you can like my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram. But to be honest, Twitter is mostly where I talk about my poor eating habits and try to get Goldfish to send me a lifetime supply of crackers.  

3 replies »

  1. WOW I can really relate to this. Basically everything in this. I’ve worked so many jobs, mostly unsuccessfully, and writing always was the answer. So I’m doing it. I can also pay my rent mysteriously, and I hate a) that other people can’t pay their rent mysteriously and b) that I have to give people reasons why I still possess a shred of dignity. I could go on and on. Someday I’ll write about it. Thanks for having the courage to talk about this!

  2. You go girl! I have been self employed since 1987, and not a month has gone by that I haven’t had to justify that to somebody. I should rather say: that somebody hasn’t wanted me to justify my work choices. Never my husband or my daughters! You know you better than anybody, so don’t let “those people” get you down. Sounds and looks to me like you are working and learning every day. We should all be so blessed!

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