I heard from a friend today. I usually see her on Skype but the last time I reached out to her she said she had been hiding. I have known her for about 6 years now and without hearing the details of her latest struggle I knew it couldn’t be that bad.
See, when I met her she was working for a big firm in Miami. She complained about the position, saying she really wanted to move back to Switzerland. A year later she was on her way back to Switzerland and working at a job that I would love to do in television. The next time we connected she said she was starting graduate school, the biggest challenge being that it was in French. Now she is in Germany working for one of the biggest automotive brands in the world.
She is consistently frustrated by me because I seem to live a lifestyle that she would never live. She is talented in all the ways I am not; she is a social butterfly and often finagles professional leaps due to her social skills. I can not stand to work in office environments and I do not desire to work my way up in someone else’s company. When I inform her of my struggles she is bewildered as to why I don’t just go and get a JOB at a company using my degree. She says I choose to struggle and settle for less than I deserve and she will never do that to herself.
Yes, I have thought about her perspective. She never makes a less than amazing salary and she has worked for some of the biggest businesses and brands. She’s always traveling, shopping and meeting people with fabulous careers while I have been a student and waitress for the past few years, eating ramen noodles, hoping desperately to meet someone to talk to about my business goals and the road to success.
But I can’t. I can’t do what she does. She explains to me that all I have to do is just ACT, pretend, put on a happy face and tap dance a little and I’ll find myself moving up the ladder to success. I don’t know how to do that. I see through the veil of human interactions and I am often inappropriate in my responses to things. I guess I am not a good actress, at least not good enough to pretend like I don’t understand the social games played in the name of progress.
In my head I guess I am still a bit idealistic in that I really hope there’s a chance for someone like me who has a heart to support her family through her creative work and has been consistent and insistent, diving in the dirt to prove that she knows what she is doing. Does hard work trump social connections and corporate climbing?
I don’t know. My head still hurts just thinking about it. Believe me, if I could be the little actress she described and follow the prescription of education, job attainment and then retirement from someone else’s company, I would. But I can’t stomach it.
I’m so tired of trying to figure this all out. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I have been held back because I won’t dance the dance that makes the world go ’round. Or maybe I’m right and there’s an alternative way to create success. I have nothing but time as long as I’m still alive.