At my very first full-time, professional job, I would ride a train in from a parking lot every morning. I remember feeling pretty miserable on that train. Working full-time was a rude shock, and I despaired at the thought of doing it for the rest of my life.
Compounding this feeling was the fact that I had moved from a fun, youthful city to a sleepy one where I didn’t know a soul in order to gain professional experience. I had been too inexperienced in the ways of the world to realize that in a lot of cities in the U.S., there’s not a whole lot of social life to be found after college. This was also pre-internet times, so I had to wait for the mail to arrive to hear from friends or for the weekend to arrive so we could talk on the phone. There was no such thing as surfing the net at work or emailing your buddies. It was grim.
Only a few months into the job, I signed up for a photography course at a local junior college. I loved it; this was back in the dark(room) days. I had a small crush on my much older professor and started going to clubs at night to photograph people, eventually creating the publicity photos for a local band. All of this activity tided me over for the year, and then, nonplussed with working life in the U.S., I decided to try living abroad.
Developing this resourcefulness served me well in my working years to come. I always offset the dull routine of work with hobbies, eventually falling in with lively creative scenes. In the back of my mind, however, I thought my life of living alone, working full-time, and “getting out there” would eventually end, and I would get married and possibly have kids.
In my thirties, I was talking to a friend once about the vagaries of dating and she said, “We are resourceful women. We should be able to figure this out.” Unfortunately, my resourcefulness only seems to come in handy in so far as steering my own, individual path; other people are another ball of wax altogether.
It’s hard for me to believe that twenty years later, I’m still living alone, working full-time, and filling my free time with hobbies. It’s led me to question the whole system. If there’s no pay-off, for what am I working so hard?