I’ve written a little about my day job: I’m a substitute teacher in a midwestern school district. It’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had: I get to work with kids, I have no direct boss, and I work with some amazing people. Plus it works well with my wanderlust, since I can take time off whenever I feel like it.
I can say this honestly: I love my job.
But it seems to beg a question, because there’s this question people keep asking me: “Is this the career you want to go into?” And hot on its heels: “Are you looking for a full-time position?”
Maybe it’s the lack of benefits. Maybe it’s the ephemeral nature of the position. Maybe it’s the lack of a paycheck in the off-months. Maybe there are several highly legitimate reasons this question rises to the top of a person’s mind. Can’t say for sure. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, though, for reasons I’m not going to get into (at least not in this post).
I have a lot of strange associations with day jobs. For a good percentage of my childhood, my mother ran her own company out of the upper level of our house: I saw how much that stressed her out, how unhappy it made her, and I think that’s always stuck with me. So the idea of having a regular, grown-up, 40-hours-a-week job with like, benefits and a water cooler and stuff– that’s always been sort of a weird idea to me.
Mix that with that the whole idealized “starving artist” narrative (can’t make a living with anything other than your art or it becomes a hobby, but god forbid you “sell out” and make it marketable) and you wind up with a pretty dysfunctional idea of employment.
You don’t need to find something passionless, or dull, or inflexible. It means you can afford to take the trips you love so much, or put some money into savings, or buy your furniture somewhere other than Craigslist and Goodwill. And that is okay.
The longer I’ve been out of high school the less I agree with that view of the working world. This is a good thing: if my ideals and dreams hadn’t changed from high school, I’d currently be running amok in Europe somewhere, trying to take over the world with ink and pen. While I can’t promise that this won’t eventually happen, at least now I’ve grown up enough to accept that it likely requires some planning first.
And yes, probably a steady day job.