Part-Time Life, 2.0
For the better part of 2015, I’ved in a state of limbo–not knowing whether my job was going to be permanent, not knowing whether writing–that is, the desire to do it, to keep doing it–was going to stay with me anymore, not knowing whether the life and relationships I’ve found and built for myself here were things that could anchor me enough to stay, to keep from picking up and moving on all over again. Working so much has been such a blessing–so lovely to see that student debt falling by so much every month, so lovely to have that regular paycheque, so lovely to know that there was a safety net in place–but it’s also been hard. It very nearly convinced me that the smart thing to do would be to settle down and fight for that continued paycheque, build my seniority, wait for benefits and more safety nets and the ability to perhaps buy a car or a house and…do something entirely other than what I’ve been doing. Settle, or build my world differently.
Writing has not mattered for so much of this year. Or, rather, it has mattered, but it has mattered less and less and other things have mattered more, or seemed to matter more, or seemed more logical, more sensible, the grown-up thing to do. Pensions and benefits and putting money away for the rainy days that lie ahead.
I realize, of course, that none of these things are mutually exclusive–that it is in fact very possible to write and work full time and have benefits and still have one’s feet solidly in some kind of creative life. One of the things that I’ve been learning about myself over the past few months is my tendency to tunnel-vision into one way of seeing things, to view the world in black and white ways. (Which is of course hilarious, and not something I’d have thought about myself over the past ten years, but there you go.)
I am not convinced, someone said to me recently, that one has either a stable or a fated life. There is room enough for both, for everything.
It’s been so hard for me to see that this year. I have been so terrified that my stable cushy really-almost-perfect job has been handcuffs of a kind. You go to work and home again and blink and suddenly it’s twenty-five years later and you haven’t done any–or not nearly as many–of the things that you once thought were so important. And I’ve been feeling so guilty for thinking this in the first place, because isn’t this what so many people are scrambling for? Full-time work? A full-time job that isn’t too terrible and is filled with nice people and is also interesting and also close to where you live?
Black-and-white thinking again, I know. There is so much space in this scenario too.
All of which is to say that it is now officially official: despite hoping on some level for a different outcome, I go back to part-time work at the end of January. Goodbye, student loan payback progress. Goodbye, disposable income. Goodbye, stability.
But hello again to space, both mental and emotional, hello to days of reading, hello to writing and stories and maybe just a little more magic. When I was only freelance, a friend once said to me, I hustled more. I was hungrier. That can be a good thing.
A couple of days ago I posted on Twitter that 2016 is already starting to feel like a year of beginnings and returnings for me. What that means, I still don’t know, but I am looking forward to having the space again to figure these things out. Maybe I’ll go back to school. Maybe I will move away. Maybe storytelling will once more feel important–not just a nice way to spend one’s days, but something that adds to the world in however tiny a way. It’s been hard, sometimes, to think of it as anything other than frivolous.
It isn’t frivolous, though. I am trying to remember that, and finding my way back to myself, slowly but surely.