Dear Problem Solver,
I took a job I didn’t like to pay the rent, while in my spare time I’ve been pursuing the incredibly creative dreams which I’m convinced will form the basis of my future career. But now, against my better judgement, I’m starting to like my job…
Are my creative dreams doomed?
There is a fine line between Giving Up and Growing Up, but God only knows where the hell it lies. Paying your bills on time, ditching the dreadlocks, realising that maybe, just maybe, you are not the voice of your generation – Lena Dunham is – these are painful truths you must learn, if not to accept, then at least to entertain the possibility of.
You are facing the classic Dan Ashcroft dilemma. Embrace bland yuppie-ness at the expense of ideals, dreams and street cred, or keep trying to be creative and young and rebellious, even if it means being surrounded by unutterable dickwads born after 1990 who read VICE unironically?
Now that new squatting laws have effectively eradicated all possibility of escaping the corporate property ladder, there is no way you can get round paying rent – unless your parents live in London and you can stand several more decades of each other’s uninterrupted company, or you get a wealthy patron like artists did in the 1800’s.
Let me put this gently. ‘Creative’ jobs do not pay a living wage, never mind the craft-beer-and-organic-veg kind of lifestyle you have come to know and expect. This does not apply if you’re a graphic designer or an internet whiz, but, let’s be honest, those jobs aren’t really that creative anyway.
Your creative outlet – writing, painting, interpretive dance, knitting – could just become an evenings and weekends hobby as you persist in your mind-numbingly dull 9-5 slog. You might get retweeted by Caitlin Moran and gain overnight fame. Or a 15-year-old fashion blogger might snap you in a nifty outfit which will catapult you into an acting job in the new series of Misfits. The internet offers tantalising marketing opportunities for your work. But how to make yourself go viral? The odds are so low you might as well start playing the lottery.
In fact, why not play the lottery? It’s only a pound and you might win literally millions. Ignore those bores who say it’s a tax on people who are bad at maths. Otherwise, of course, you can try stripping, online poker, or whichever form of high-risk gambling takes your fancy. Prostitution and drug dealing are always an option, or if you fancy yourself as a Ryan Gosling type, why not try stunt driving? This will offer you an advantageous money-to-time ratio, allowing you to rent that spacious flat in Stokey and leave you free time to write your collection of experimental short stories.
But here’s the thing. I notice you hint that sometimes, just sometimes, you kind of enjoy your job. This, I hope you appreciate, is extraordinary, and way beyond my jaded and bitter comprehension.
Think of the worst job you have ever done. Now ask yourself: is it the job you are doing at the moment? If the answer is yes, maybe give prostitution a go. If your answer is no, stick with it. The current job market, student fees and economic wasteland suggest that this is the best you’re ever likely to get. Congratulations! You have achieved the Noughties version of Success.
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Kathryn Bromwich is Commissioning Editor, Observer New Review. You can visit her personal website here.