Hejira

the corporate monster

an on display side project
March 5. 2000

ain't I cuteThis entry is part of an On Display side project, a kind of telephone round robin where we would write an entry inspired by the entry written by the person before us. I am following Cameron's excellent entry, which touched on many things I've been thinking about lately. Since she's an artist too, this is kind of a no-brainer (at least, it should have been).

The thing that caught my attention in her entry was when she complained to her mother about wanting a normal, 9-5 job that had a steady salary. I really identified with this desire, because it's something that I've been struggling with these past few months.

Do you choose comfort and possible mental stagnation, or do you choose the eternal mental and financial struggle of being an artist? My experience of being a working artist is nil, I haven't needed to support myself yet, but I'm sure that's going to be a whole new set of challenges in itself. But even as I am now, a freshman in art school, my desires and expectations for myself as an artist, and how I've often failed to meet them, have nearly torn me apart on several occasions, so much so that I've considered just leaving them behind.

When I was tangling with the idea of transferring schools a couple months ago, I had also considered changing my major as well. Coming off my first semester and a 2.61 GPA didn't make me too enthused to get right back in there and make art. Maybe everyone is wrong about me. Maybe I'm not cut out for this art thing. I could be a web designer, maybe, or learn programming or something. I could have a nice, cushy, 9-5 job in NYC, bring home a regular paycheck, wear pantyhose and attend motivational meetings as per company policy.

I saw the bleak future I could take in exchange for some financial peace of mind. Not that I'm putting down those kind of jobs, because many of my friends have or will have jobs of that type, but I realized I just couldn't do it. I've figured out a long time ago that I am good at doing things, hands-on, rather than sitting down at a desk and talking about abstract things. Is it any wonder I loathe my one academic class? Once I got a taste of doing things, I never wanted to go back.

Daniella, one of my professors, and I were discussing my courses last week, and I mentioned both of my parents are art teachers. She said, "Well, you're going to get your teaching certification then, right?", to which I replied no. I don't want to do that, despite the benefits and advantages. I've seen what my parents have given up in order to have a steady job and income, and while I admire them for it, I don't know if I could do that myself. Neither of them really do any of their own work anymore, especially my mother, which saddens me, because some of the work they made in college was pretty amazing. But I understand the sacrifice they had to make in order to have a family. I just don't think I could do that myself.

The corporate monster has gotten more pervasive than ever lately, with the advent of the internet, and 25 year old overnight multi millionaires. Everyone wants a piece of that prize. Hell, I want a piece of that prize. I flip through Newsweek, see people ten years older than me with six figure salaries and big houses and yachts. Sure, I want to be them. Are they happy? Who knows? If they are, more power to them. But I know now that I could never be happy living a life like that, no matter what the financial benefits are. As strange as it is for me to write this, I prefer dirt under my fingernails. I want that daily mental torture of will I ever be good enough for me. I want those occasional bursts of incredible inspiration or brilliance that makes it all worthwhile.