At the end of August, I was at one of the lowest points of my life. My freelance gigs were going nowhere. I was living alone on the outskirts of St. John’s, feeling cut off from the world. I desperately missed Berlin and the life I had built for myself there. I literally had no idea what I was doing.
At that point, I was prepared to move home with my parents until I figured things out. The freelance world was killing my spirit — the lack of respect from clients and publishers was overwhelming. It still is. It’s November, and I’m waiting on a pay check from a multi-billion dollar company…from a job I completed in July.
I had been applying for both local and remote jobs all summer. In the back of my yellow day-planner, I kept a meticulous list of companies where I had submitted my resume. I don’t know why I kept this list. The job search isn’t something you should take personally, but man, does rejection ever sting.
I was so broke, I routinely stole toilet paper from public bathrooms and usually ended up buying junk food on my grocery outings because fresh produce was far too expensive. (Me, a notorious judgmental bitch over what’s in people’s shopping carts. Never again.)
Then I saw an job advertisement at the local St. John’s International Women’s Film Fest for an eight-week position as a Communications Coordinator. The job description was me; I knew I was a perfect fit. Plus I had volunteered for the Festival in the past, I knew some of its members, and I love what the Festival is all about. Sure enough, two days later, I was hired.
There’s no real shocking epiphany to take away from all this. In fact, slipping back into the 9 to 5 role was far easier than I could have imagined. I suppose it helps when you genuinely care about the work you’re doing, and the people involved.
So, over the course of eight weeks I got to know an office full of passionate, smart, talented people working in the film industry. I worked with the local media, and ran the Festival’s social media. I was responsible for ad purchasing and maintaining sponsorships. I interviewed unbelievably amazing women filmmakers from as far away as Ireland, and I found myself plunged headlong into the arts scene that I’ve turned my back on for so long.
One day, after an interview, me and a local filmmaker hung out in a coffee shop and chit-chatted about books. I mentioned my completed manuscript from last year — the one I’ve been too chicken to really submit anywhere. Having worked with a local publishing group, she gave me some solid advice and encouraged me to start taking things more seriously. I really took that to heart.
I remember thinking, gee, this is the kind of support I could be having?
I. Loved. Every. Single. Second.
The Festival went off without a hitch. I realized somewhere in the middle of all the screenings and industry mixers and new friends that the arts community is where I really want to be… not obsessing over traffic stats and page ranks and all the other crap that detracts from actually creating something worthwhile and meaningful. It’s perhaps time to admit to myself that blogging as a career choice isn’t going to work for me.
My contract ended. I said goodbye to my amazing colleagues, and headed off to Ottawa for a few weeks to spend time with my family. It was a tumultuous few weeks, again. Trying to figure out what I was doing. Trying to figure out the guy I was interested in. Trying to figure out where my little life belonged on this big, scary planet.
And then as fate would have it, the Festival came back and offered me a year-long role as a Communications and Admissions Officer. Is that a fancy title or what?
I’m always going to be a traveller, and a writer, and a blogger. It’s been a weird but fun adjustment to settle back into a routine. But routine is my friend. I’m up early in the morning to read. I take the bus to work. I hit the gym every single day. I come home to evening writing sessions. I sleep like a sweet baby angel every single night. There’s a lot of opportunity for me to grow in this position. I don’t know what happens after this year in St. John’s, but I can’t wait to find out.
TL;DR: 9 to 5 ain’t all bad. Neither is the pay check — I’m finally adding to my savings again, and paying down debt from Europe in the process. Turns out if you actually like the job, it’s pretty fucking awesome.