What’s worse than stand-still traffic?
The start-stop traffic.
In a standstill, you know where you stand… still. In stop n’ go n’ stop again traffic, you have no clue. You go from 5 to 50 again for all of three feet, then back to 5. Eventually, you don’t even care about getting to your destination anymore, just so long as the tedium ceases.
My jobs went almost exactly the same way.
Retail work, career work. Retail work, career work. Retail work, career work. And each time I had to take a pause, I didn’t have enough time, money, or interest to keep up with the rising trend of ‘content creators’ who can film, edit, script, photograph, edit THOSE, AND do blogs and emails replacing copywriter positions. So I just stayed scrambling until I could ‘relax’ into a career gig that ended shortly for one reason or another.
Even though I left each advertising job under different circumstances, in late 2019, I realized, ‘Okay, maybe it’s ME. Maybe if I’m this frustrated with the traffic, I need to pull off the road.’
The last shift saw me go from copywriter, to house cleaner, to heavy metal head shop gal, to moderating freight brokerage in the span of two months. Hell of a detour…
Of course now that I’m out of full-time work in the field I sold my credit score to break into, the guilt of having left a career I soured on to break into a field I didn’t need to go to college at all for is… crushing. And new beginnings, with wages to match, are hard no matter who you are.
However, this shame and heaviness is all coming from the inside. My parents are proud, my friends are happy for me, and I have yet to hear anyone actively dumping on my decision to purposely exit the salaried copywriting field. And even if everyone sucked about my choice, it wouldn’t change the fact that so far it’s the best one. At some point, you gotta shake yourself by the shoulders, borrow from Mrs. Knowles-Carter, and scream: Suck on my job cause, I’ve had enough.
Why deal with a stigma when you could deal with stigmata, right? Those are way cooler. And I’m pretty done with wounding myself either way.
Multiple small, panicked hiatus taught me something. Some things. First thing: truly powerful screaming comes from the belly, not the throat. Most relevant thing: I don’t want to write for other people, nor for brands that can’t use some variant of my own voice.
I thought I was a copywriting mimic octopus who could change colors, shapes, and textures to suit an environment, but this whole time I’ve been a chameleon— always keeping my funky fresh shape, and only changing colors to suit how I feel, or to attract mates.
I’m not going to act like career pauses are some great thing in which to discover yourself and do some eat, pray, love BS. I quite literally almost died of a bad infection during a time I was on a pause with no health insurance. The pauses were financially and mentally draining, and if it weren’t for extreme strokes of good fortune in several places, I wouldn’t be in a position to write this piece.
What I will say is that I was able to bid the misshapen phoenix cycle that I was on a frantic farewell, at least I think so. Anything’s liable to change, such is life.
For now, there is only to bag up the ashes and try to use them in fertilizing my next steps.