I Discovered My Dream Job (An Abbreviated Journey)
I got a new job.
Oh, could you not tell? See video proof of this (or my strong belief in our right to dance freely in the face of religious tyrants) below.
Yes, go ahead. Kick off those Sunday shoes.
It’s been a couple of months since that day, my last at the old job. I miss my past coworkers, Albatron and Wendy Pants and Jimothy and Linda. But I can say that I’ve never been happier in work. It’s still probably way too soon to declare a job as a “dream job,” but it’s how I feel. And if the present isn’t for expressing emotions openly accompanied by silly dance moves and the sweet, fist-pumping, pelvic-thrusting melody of the one and only Kenny Loggins, I don’t want any part of it.
So, yay, emotions are being felt and they are valid and it feels so lovely.
But it wasn’t always this way. And it took a long while to get here. That’s what I’d like to delve into. The journey; if I can be so romantic.
My First Days of Freelancing
I was fresh out of college. After my three-month baseball road trip and year-long gallivant through New York, I found myself back in my hometown working three part-time jobs, one of which was at a local coffee shop. That’s where I met my first real freelance client, a children’s book author whose cheerful demeanor I learned later was just a smokescreen for duping young creatives into working for them and then refusing to pay — all evidenced by her superheroic feats of misdirect, excuses that appeal to emotion, and just plain ignoring.
In retrospect, it was a good lesson. I learned, as all freelancers need to learn, how to determine my own value. Also paperwork. Paperwork helps. If your freelance contract is agreed upon using espresso-stained paper napkins, you were like me once and there’s no need to fret too much; you have a lesson to glean from, and you have what’s ahead of you.
At that time, I was a kid, eager to find any work in the field of writing. So I don’t fault myself or feel shitty about it. It’s a thing that happens; a rite of passage all us contractual creatives go through while we aim to figure out what the hell we’re doing.
And that takes time, naturally so. It took a few years before I had the confidence to really find my voice and value.
Discovering My Value as a Writer & Editor
I eventually learned to value myself as a writer, editor, worker of words. Therapy has helped with that too. I created a little DBA (“Doing Business As”) called Subject + Verb because, well, Madmartigan’s Magical Word Salad was taken. Monsters.
I started to get work here and there. Work was sent my way (thanks, Patricia!), I discovered other freelancers looking to collaborate on projects (you’re the best, Jennifer!), I started to take myself seriously and learn that the trade of services for payment was not in fact some sort of strong-arm, corporate brutality, but a lovely collaboration between mutual partners.
I put together a website. I even managed to create a slivered facade of courage at an attempt to solicit business on a couple of occasions. In person! Me! An introvert!
Thankfully I didn’t have to do much of the pavement pounding (praise the Internet!). And back then, I was still trying to figure out how to sell myself. On the page, it’s easier. In person, potential nightmare. Especially because leg prisons routinely were involved (listen to Joy Sandwich Episode 55 for more info on my aversion to sweaty, tyrannical leg prisons). One time it went something like this:
Me: Hi, my name is Non. It’s like “known” you know hippie parents ah ha ha
Fuchsia cheeks. Stab stab plunge plunge knives in my chest. Sweat parade.
Business person: Oh, would you look at the time? I have to pick up mother at the dentist.
Choo choo! The Hyperbole Train is out of control! You get the idea anyhow. I was bad at it. But hey, I had the Internet.
The Internet, Bastion of the Introverted Creative
As a kid, I learned pretty quickly where I stood (huddled in a corner) on the Extrovert vs. Introvert spectrum. I am an introvert through and through, physiologically and, I think, further honed in an environment in which I figured making myself as small as possible was the best move to get by.
When it was time to hock my services on my own, doing so within the confines of the Internet seemed far less daunting. In retrospect, I know that my perception of what it means to “sell yourself” was out of whack. It was far less Glengarry Glen Ross than I had envisioned (and more, let’s say Toy Story). My father, business man, didn’t help with my perceptions either. But that’s just the thing experience will get you: perspective, and possibly an obsession with stories.
Twitter was the place I found my people. And it was on Twitter where I first met Mindy and Matt.
Like all great relationships, it kicked off with a shared joy. I wonder sometimes if I hadn’t sent her that note. Where would I be? Would I still be in the job I am today? Would I be wearing shorts at work while my stuffy, snooty corporate pants gasp for life in the tomb that is the closet, slowly being suffocated by Jessica’s Leslie Knope power suits? I shudder to think about it.
But I am going to. And point out that it’s good to be open about the things that bring us joy. There’s no shame in expressing what we’re feeling. Even for us introverts. It’s why Joy Sandwich exists. If you are moved or inspired or made to feel joyful by a thing (anything!), tell the people who helped make that possible.
Make Friends With the Inspirers
It’s strange to think that if I hadn’t listened to that episode of the Nerdist podcast, felt inspired to say hello, I likely wouldn’t have created a friendship with Mindy (or dearest, most sweetest, most amazing writer-friend, Yi Shun!), which wouldn’t have led to meeting Matt, which wouldn’t have resulted in, years later, working at Winning Edits, the small and wonderful editorial agency, doing my favorite work ever, working with some of the best humans on the planet.
But let back up. The moment I met Mindy, we instantly became friends. If you haven’t met Mindy, here’s a short description: she embodies an unironic eagerness that is wildly infectious, she loves her cats (Tigger and Spot), and she balances unfettered creativity with the analytical profundity of a mathematical genius. She inspired me when I first heard her story on the Nerdist, and she continues to inspire me today.
She also, not ever, says no to a Skype dance party.
It was through Mindy I met Matt, the mastermind behind Winning Edits (among many other things, including Rocketcode).
Matt, like Mindy, is not like anyone else I’ve met. He’s voraciosly determined to make a positive, lasting, meaningful impact on the world. And he has the capability (business wits, critical thinker, heaps of empathy) to make it happen. I just feel so lucky to be a part of the world that he has fostered.
Which, I suppose, all leads me to where I am today, the dream job. As I said, it may be hyperbolic to call it a dream job, but as Jessica reminded me just recently, the present is made for enjoying the things that are within our grasp. Tomorrow doesn’t matter. And screw the past.
Here, presently, I jump for joy.
I have a job I love. I work for and with gracious, passionate, wildly talented people, including Janna (Managing Editor at Winning Edits, Gumtree adventurer, and someone I call “Janna Banana” in my head whenever I see her face on Hangouts, which just makes me happy), Jennifer (Senior Strategist at Winning Edits, giddy storyteller, and, most importantly, a fellow dog lover), Elise (Team Winning Edits super collaborator, actor, performing artist, and creative whiz), and Eric (developer, boardgame aficionado, and pun powerhouse).
All of these folks inspire me, and make me better.
Did I mention also that we all work wherever we call home? But also sometimes in coffee shops, on trains, and, coming this January, in a Hobbit hole.
Enjoy it While it Lasts
I am not a dumb dumb head. I realize that not all things last. This job may not last. I’m content with that fact. I’m also content with the idea that maybe not everything should last. So we embrace. We embrace the joy while it’s here. And we do that by jumping in, a great big cannonball splash until our lungs burns and our brains hurt and we’ve left everything there is to leave.
I’m not there yet. Not just yet. I’m going to soak this in a little while longer.