Friday, April 10, 2015

Real Job

I am currently working on getting a certification to become a group fitness instructor. It's been consuming a large portion of my life.

Shooo-za! Bonus points if you know what I'm talking about. 

“What does this have to do with writing or reading?” the sceptical reader asks.
“I will get to that. Don’t worry it ties in.” I say. The sceptic rolls their eyes. 

As I was saying, I’ve been studying for this certification. I mentioned this fact to one of my friends at the gym a week ago. Connie* said that it sounded like a fun job, which I agreed with. I also told her how much I appreciated the flexible hours. Then she said that it was something she thought about doing a few years ago, but she is a full-time nurse. 

“I might do that if I didn’t have a real job already,” she said and walked off. I think Connie said goodbye, but honestly I can’t remember. Instead I was amused by her wording. I wasn’t offended by her calling my future career a fake job. I’m a stay at home mom who loves to write. I’m pretty used to that mentality. It just struck me as funny.

What is it that makes someone think of a job as real? Does the American Society only value work that involves a steady paycheck? I’m not sure if this translates to other countries. I’ve traveled to several countries, but I’ve never been lucky enough to spend enough time to fully absorb the perspective of a ‘real’ job.

Did you know that the celebrity, Tim Gunn didn’t get paid for the first two seasons that he worked on Project Runway? He wasn’t well off or anything like that. In fact he was struggling financially, but believed in the show so much that he was willing to work without pay at first until their budget grew. Does that mean that he didn’t have a real job there for those two years because he wasn’t paid? I certainly don’t think so. 

When work, jobs and careers get too tied up in money it stifles so many options out there. If you’re a writer how often have you heard someone make a remark belittling what you do? Perhaps they referred to your passion as ‘just’ a hobby. When you sat down to write did someone interrupt and demand your time because you’re ‘just’ writing.** 

“See I told you that there was a tie-in” I say.
“Took you long enough,” the reader says. 
Me typing or at least attempting to while taking the picture with my other hand. 

I’ve had plenty of people tell me that I will never make it. Some of these comments started when I was in third grade and mentioned that I wanted to be a writer. It is something that I will probably hear all of my life. There are always people who thrust their unsolicited advice. 

Brilliant idea, perhaps we should all make t-shirts that say, “No solicitors. Opinions only by request.” How snarky would that be? Chances are someone’s already made something similar. After all there’s a t-shirt for everything, but I digress.  

In the end the amount of naysayers or people who don’t get it, doesn’t matter. The fact is that anyone can tell someone what they are doing is hopeless, a lost cause or waste of time. It’s incredibly easy to do. 

What does matter is what you believe. Other people might call your writing a hobby. That is their prerogative. What you shouldn’t let them say is that you didn’t write. That you didn’t sit down and let the words flow from your fingers onto the page. 

I won’t stop studying to be a group fitness instructor because someone might not think it’s a real job. At the same time I won’t consider the time I write as a waist even if the project I finish isn’t accepted for publication. To me writing isn’t about social validation. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be noticed and appreciated. The real fact though is that fitness and writing are part of my core identity. The idea of not writing, no matter how futile it can feel at times, would be like asking me to stop eating. After all I don’t get paid for that either. 

The truth is that a lot of life is about perception and cheering yourself on. You don’t have to shout that you are a writer and should be taken seriously. Instead you can quietly create people and worlds with the power of your mind.

*Name protected, because it’s the decent thing to do.

**As a side note I hate the word ‘just’ and try to keep it out of my families vocabulary as much as possible.

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