So, a friend recently sent me this:
Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one area where I truly belonged. I was set free, because my greatest fear had been realized, and I was still alive, and I still had a daughter whom I adored, and I had an old typewriter, and a big idea. And so rock bottom became a solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. – J. K. Rowling, Harvard commencement address, 2008
Aside from repeating a quote that is from J.K. Rowling – a fact that embarrasses me slightly – I don’t think that there is a more accurate depiction of my professional-life-in-crisis as this. Truth – I’ve quit my job and I really don’t know what I’m going to do next. Truth – I’ve had more internships and jobs than I can count. I’ve worked in public relations, advertising and the corporate world. I have gone to college… twice. Truth – I’ve done all of this and have been successful at anything that I have set my mind to. But I leave each experience unfulfilled. Something has always been missing and I have never really been able to figure out why.
It comes down to a word that, I think, pretty much sums me up entirely: Passion. I’ve never had passion for the work that I’ve done. Sure I’ve been successful. I’m a go-getter. I’m a type A. I get results. But the victories were empty. Ask me about my day at work and you get a lackluster list of complaints. Ask me about anything else and I will serenade you with a debate that in the end could get even the most stone-faced skeptic to side with me.
Passion. I want to care about what I do. I would like to get up in the morning excited to go to work. I dream of being energized by the work that I do. I don’t want to play in politics or to have to put on a socially-accepted persona for a day at the office. I want to believe in a cause. I don’t want my day to consist of telling people that eating this granola bar will make you an athlete or using that pancake mix will make your family love each other and live a well adjusted life together. What the hell? I remember working once and believing in this propaganda. But the fact of the matter is that I don’t anymore.
And so, not too long ago I stumbled upon this: http://www.missrepresentation.org/the-film/. And I couldn’t help but scream inside my head “THAT’S IT.” I want to do something like this. I want to be an advocate. I want to be a voice for those who don’t have one. I want to tell the unheard stories. I want to bring the things we hide into the light. I want to do something that makes me feel good about myself. I want to do something that makes this unjust world even the tiniest bit better. I want to be a part of something like this.
Look, I’m not expecting to be the center of a revolution here. But I cannot face another interview for some corporation or agency in where my sole duty is to dupe John Q. Public into believing some piece of social fiction that we crafted specifically for our own benefit. I can’t make myself live for a job that I hate. I can no longer stomach the thought of doing something that I don’t have passion for. I want to be a part of something bigger than myself. I would like to be active in a movement, like Miss Representation, that has a goal of changing the lives of young girls and showing them the potential that they have inside of them. I have no idea what my cause will be or how I become this activist-person. I haven’t the slightest clue of where to start. But isn’t that kind of the point of hitting rock bottom? There is nowhere to go but up.
And like J.K. Rowling’s quote, had I continued in Minneapolis, in a job that bored me to tears, where each morning I negotiated with the Fates for an excuse to stay in bed, I would not be able to have this opportunity. I would not have created this chance to find the place where I know in my heart of hearts that I belong. I have spent a long time pretending that I am some hardcore corporate-ladder-climbing bitch trying to run the world, when it turns out that I am a hardcore hippie-superwoman just trying to save it.
My greatest fear has been to be unemployed and drifting along without direction. I stared fear in the eye, quit my job and moved across the country. And look at me now, still alive… given a chance to build upon the strong foundation of my passion.