enjoying life dot com
I’m wearing a nice breezy summer dress. I just found out recently that Houston was hit pretty hard with some storms. My family’s home is safe, but I’m wondering what it looks like out there. I hear that Texas is already that kind of hot where you don’t move inside your car because you’re afraid you’ll die of heat stroke just because you looked in your rear view mirror. You drive like a coma patient.
It’s so easy to forget how hot it must be down there right now. The weather here seems to never change. Every day it’s kind of cloudy in the morning and then very sunny in the afternoon and just a bit chilly at night. It’s the same every day. That’s what I kept reminding myself last summer when I was worried about moving and wondering every five minutes if I was making a mistake. It’s days like today when it’s so nice outside and everyone’s in a great mood that I know I made a good decision.
Over the past few weeks there’s been a sort of hazy sadness over everyone I know. It’s nice to see it’s starting to lift. People are making changes and decisions and moving forward and I think the spring is changing to summer and the answers are becoming clearer. I know the things I want to do over the next few months. I’ve given myself some bold, large goals. I hope I complete them. Wait, I take that last sentence back. I will complete them. I just wonder what I’ll think of myself when I do.
I saw startup.com last night (a documentary that follows one dot com from the beginning to the end of the company) and seeing all of those cubicles and meetings and whiteboard scribbles and tension — I just remembered how happy I was to have left that scene. That wasn’t something I was good at. Going to work every day wondering if that’s the day I’m getting fired, wondering what was going to happen to me, wondering what was next– I hated it. And the funny thing is, I am a dot com right now and every day I don’t know if I’ll have work tomorrow. As a freelancer, I’m constantly looking for extra gigs. I’m balancing deadlines and trying to keep my Tofutti breaks in with the work and I have to talk about merchandise and have last-minute phone conversations and meetings discussing when things are due and I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. It’s enough to drive me to run-on sentences. The difference is I’m in a business I care about. Before I was working for a machine. I worked for a company that had nothing to do with who I was. Now I’m representing me and my work and I care what happens every day.
Hell, maybe there’s absolutely no difference. I just think it’s an amazing time to be in the workforce. I’ve been blessed with jobs that I never would have been able to land if I was a woman with my education just a few years before. I have a background in technology and an understanding of the Internet that wasn’t taught in any school I attended. I am my own business and I have a degree in acting. For this I feel very lucky. But watching that movie last night reminded me just how much I hated the corporate world. I really hated the bullshit of downsizing and meetings and dividing up responsibility so that each person was managed by about six other people. I hated the threats of losing privileges. I hated the forced camaraderie of retreats and socials. It all seemed so fake and silly to me. The t-shirts, the stolen office supplies, the gossip, the worries, the constant threat of losing your job. It was so much fun when it all started, when the promise of a billion dollars was just one great idea or one profit share away. But that soon became a miserable place to be.
Right now I’m wondering if I have anything to offer, really. It’s a terrible time to be a freelancer. I’m so lucky to have the jobs that I have. The Internet isn’t offering the cash it used to. I am a web designer in a market that doesn’t need them. I’m a content provider in a market that’s afraid of content-based websites. I have a website that doesn’t actually provide a service to a definitive demographic, so I’m not the target website to plaster with ads (since some of my content readers, or “visitors” feel that ads mean I am selling out).
Look at that paragraph. Here I am bitching about my corporate America background and then I’m corporate speaking myself left and right. Three years in tech support, marketing, web design and corporate branding taught me more than I ever realized. Without those two companies taking their time with me, teaching me everything I wanted to know and allowing me to work on my own personal websites to enrich my knowledge I wouldn’t be where I am right now. My dot com experience was more like a mentoring program. As much as I don’t want to go back to an office every day and deal with the corporate machine, I don’t regret my time there. I appreciate my current situation because of it. I have the skills to market myself, to organize my time and become the worker I want to be. I set goals and reach them. I sell myself. I am proud of my work. I like the finished product. And in the case of pamie.com, the finished product is me.
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