I'm 30 (not a brag) and I'm very wealthy in friendships or whatever but not in money. I don't really have a "career" as much as I've had a string of jobs that allow me to pay the bills while I take random stabs at different creative ventures, none of which have gained much attention and most of which have lost me money over time.
In high school and college, I assumed I'd be married by 24. That probably sounds insane to a lot of people, but I'm Catholic and lived in the South, so it was pretty standard. I had friends get married at 20, 21, 22. When I first moved to New York I sold wedding and bridesmaids dresses at BHLDN and a customer came in once saying she was looking for a dress. When I politely asked if she meant bridal or bridesmaid, she looked baffled and said "I'm 23, I'm not looking for a bridal gown," which was my first real culture shock living in the North.
I no longer use marriage as a measure of success. You could say I'm doing well if you define "doing well" as, like, "still vibin' after all these years," which I am. I do have aspirations, which I am not on track to meet anytime soon. This week I got interviewed for our employee newsletter at work, and one of the questions was "Which fictional character would you like to be and why?" My answer was Matilda Wormwood because she has time to read books and lives in the Trunchbull's house, which had great renovation potential. That's all I want in this world. I don't even need telekinesis. I just don't want to pay rent.
I've thought of a lot of reasons why I'm not a world-renowned writer and actress by now, or even a niche one that people in the know are passionate about. Trust me, I've thought about it extensively!!
Here's a list of excuses I've considered:
- My parents didn't force me to learn a skill from an early age, putting me hopelessly behind my peers. I should have been tap-dancing as a toddler and in singing lessons as soon as I could talk.
- I didn't insist on auditioning for Nickelodeon shows when we lived in Orlando. I should have pushed harder. I didn't act as a child, but I did want attention and I did ask to be a child star, but my mom said that that would be a bad life. She's right, but more people would read this newsletter if I'd been on All That.
- Growing up in Florida couldn't have helped things.
- Catholicism didn't help the situation at all. I was unlearning so much shit about gender and sexuality when I should have been grinding at a career!
- NO ONE gave me ANY TRUST FUND
- *gestures vaguely at the concept of being a millennial*
- A high school (!!) science (!!) teacher casually saw me in the hallway one day and asked me if I would audition for another musical. When I said I was actually planning on assistant directing – simply because I wanted the experience!! – she said, "Oh good! I saw you in Into the Woods and you CANNOT sing. I have a good ear for music, and musicals just aren't for you!" I cried for three hours that afternoon and didn't sing again for a decade. Had Mrs. Smith not shattered my fucking confidence, I'd be on Broadway now, I bet.
- My high school boyfriend. No specific reason, I just think he was dead weight and probably set me back, life-wise.
- Not going to college at one of those talent hubs like NYU where I could have formed a comedy troupe with my gifted, driven peers and gotten some sort of TV show
- Vastly overestimating the commercial potential of a weekly blog reviewing Lizzie McGuire