My New Years resolution for this year was to blow up my life, not literally or violently, but just to get rid of all the stuff that wasn’t working for me…which turned out to be a lot of it. In December, I realized that I had built a very quaint, totally safe, super stereotypical life, complete with 401K and subscriptions to organic food boxes delivered to my front door. And guess what? I hated it.
I hated so much of what I had built. None of it brought me joy, sure it brought me money, which came close, but even five months ago my soul was shouting from the depths of the cute Queen Anne apartment I had buried it in (while munching on an organic carrot). About two years ago, I decided to give up being an artist. It didn’t make money, no one knew what dramaturgy was or liked dramaturgs, so fuck it. Work administration. Get paid to keep other people’s shit in order. Get really fucking good at keeping other people’s shit in order. Make more money. Rinse, repeat.
This plan for killing my artist-self might have worked if every fiber of me wasn’t so stubborn. While administration paid, it was boring as shit. One of the lessons that I’ve learned after nearly three years of it is that I can be incredibly busy and still bored out of my skull. So, I did what all my coworkers did, I got a hobby. Only my hobby of choice was pole dancing, which acted like a gateway drug for my sober-artist-soul. After six months I realized what I had done to try to cut out a whole part- who the fuck am I kidding?- my entire being and I decided that I needed to find a way to change. I needed to blow up my life.
I can remember the moment that this realization came over me. I was at work, sitting at my desk, trying to find something else to do. At some point I just gave up and looked up for a moment, over at one of my coworker’s offices. It was one of those rare days where she wasn’t working from home and her door had been shut since I arrived at 9am. She still hadn’t emerged, but to microwave her lunch, and it was now 2:30pm. I could see through the window that she was hunched over her laptop, earbuds in, on a web conference- probably the fifth or sixth one of the day.
This woman is amazing. She’s a brilliant communicator, one of the best managers I have ever had, and just the sweetest, most hard working person ever. She had spent 16 years at the Society and was one of the top dogs now, Vice President of blah, blah Making Awesome Resources Available for People with MS. She was-she still is- the definition of success at that organization and she spends her days trapped in a small box on a screen, literally chained to her computer, unable to interact with the very real people around her. In that moment, all I could think was, “If that is the top, I don’t want to get there. I can’t do that.”
So I resolved myself to find a way out. I knew I had to give up my Queen Anne studio to have more discretionary income anyway, so I moved in with a roommate on cap hill (HI DREW!). I surrounded myself with artists again and I started signing up to perform in whatever I could. I started spending ever second I could at the studio. Slowly, Real Lexi was coming back to life.
In the midst of this reawakening, I was also trying to keep up the persona I had built for my work life. This was unbelievably challenging. I know everyone has a “work-self,” and that not every aspect of your humanity is captured in that little slice that you show people for 8 hours a day in order to bring home money, that’s fine. But this, this was like flat out lying.
I was the only queer person in the whole office (hooray for bi, super demisexual exhibitionists!)
I was the only single person. #singlesawareness #partyofone
Most of my coworkers had kids, wanted them, and all of them loved them. (Due to my trauma, children are a significant trigger for me and if I am not prepared to be around them, I do quite poorly).
In a sea of white women who have husbands and children, who all go snowshoeing together for funzies, I was a queer lady pole dancer who couldn’t even answer the question, “what did you do this weekend?” With honesty. Because, “I spent the majority of it at the studio, on a pole and the rest chilling on my roommate’s floor talking existential shit while we drank and he smoked weed. OH. And I spent yet more time looking into whether becoming a stripper in Seattle is a lucrative option.” Is not an answer that I could actually share at all.
I have to stop here and say that I worked with some lovely, super caring people, and the lifestyle that they all share isn’t wrong or bad, it just isn’t mine. And pretending that my lifestyle was “bad” or didn’t even exist was an oppressive situation. If you happen to be one of these folks and you’re reading this, none of it is meant to be a dig at you. I’m sorry that between cultural values and feeling like the odd duck out, I couldn’t share my true self with you.
All that said, the socially awkward, “You best lie about how often weed and strippers are involved in your life,” stuff would have been fine if it was standing alone. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Due to the Society cutting 11% of its staff and me needing lots more money for pole classes, I took a promotion and was buried in work. If I wasn’t busy and bored before, I sure was by the time that rolled around, and terrified to boot, because the jobs that we had all been shifted into were built to be impossible.
And, if you know me, you know that I’m a class A overachiever, so I like impossible shit. I graduated from Cornish with like a 3.8. Impossible shit is my jam…but not this. Unless I wanted to eat, sleep, and breathe this job, I wasn’t going to achieve the impossible. Considering that I already decided that I didn’t want this job to consume my life, I had to take a hard pass and just only be good at this job, not great at it.
Eventually, I stopped eating. I was nauseous for most of the day. Constantly miserable. I couldn’t go to dance class without crying. Finally, one of my best friends told me that “this job is killing your soul.” She was right. So I left. It was far from perfect timing and definitely not the most responsible resignation that I have ever given. I also don’t believe that there was a graceful way to do any of it, not without sacrificing more of my sanity.
So, now… I don’t know what yet. Who knows? I really have no clue what comes next, but I hope it will feed my soul (or at least not make me feel as though I have to hide it) instead of kill it. This certainly wasn’t exactly what I intended when I resolved to blow up my life four months ago, but I think things are now sufficiently blown up and ready to be rebuilt.
I am seriously so happy that I am back and ready to play again. There are no regrets about the time I took for all my #adventuresinadmin, because I learned for sure that the 9-5 world is not where I belong. If this were a communication at my job, I would probably end it with this phrase: “Stay tuned!”