For a long while, I've thought there was something wrong with me. Why can't I be happy with a "normal" 9-5 job? Why do I run away from the idea of consistent schedule even when too much spontaneity makes me anxious? Am I so damaged from attempting a 40+ hour work week in an office that I'm hurting my future chances at success?
Here, I thought that I was being stubborn, stupidly rebellious, denying some need for normalcy, using anxiety and depression as a crutch for avoiding what most of American culture deems to be the good and true way to a happy life.
I suddenly remembered that I've never wanted that life.
When I was 5, I wanted to be an artist. I envisioned myself in a little house with an art studio, spending my days painting and drawing and playing with a daughter of my own. Then, I wanted to be an author. I would spend my years writing stories and sending them to my best friend editor who would say "Great job!" and publish them immediately. After that, I wanted to be an actress. I would think about being on stage and in movies, practicing and performing, moving on to more and more projects.
The artist-author-actress life was on my mind for a while until I thought about also becoming an Egyptologist/archaeologist. I wanted to be bigger than Zahi Hawass, be the main expert on ancient Egyptian culture, be out in the desert digging up mummies and finding treasure, be adventuring through hidden tunnels and faraway lands. As much as I loved Egyptology, I went back to the A-Cubed idea until I decided to major in screenwriting. I realized I was the opposite of one of my favorite actors, Liev Schreiber - originally wanting to be a playwright, he had been told that he was a better actor than writer. I knew in my gut I was a better writer than actor, so I stuck with that and did the other things on the side for fun.
Then came the film industry day job...which is rarely ever just 9-5, but when you have a desk job like that, it's easier to manage than 9-5 one day (half indoors, half outdoors), 5-12 the next (indoors except for the gopher runs), a noon-3am the following (outdoors, cold and raining), a one day break (spent sleeping), then who knows what hours the next call sheets will say, and they'll always change.
Realizing I wanted to leave the industry was hard enough, but walking away from a steady scheduled job was harder than I realized. I thought maybe I'd find another desk job that wouldn't require so much sitting or would provide work-from-home hours. I needed to take a break, and I was always told that every job will piss you off at times, but that there would be a job out there for me that I would like enough.
Maybe there is one out there. So far, I haven't found it, and while that has hurt me and makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong...I'm so glad.
Ever since I started thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I have never had an answer that was average or typical. When it came to art, I liked cartoons, but I didn't want to make them - I wanted to paint things and be in museums like Matisse. I liked writing stories, but I never wanted to be a journalist working at a newspaper. I wanted to be an actress, but I knew there was no Monday thru Friday regular workweek. And digging around the world as Indiana Jess? Definitely not a 9-5.
I still feel guilty about not wanting or accepting what society calls "normal." But at the very least, I am realizing that I have never been normal, I have never wanted anything normal, and I will never be normal.
Thank God for that.