In less than one week, I will show up to an office with lots of cubicles and paid time off for its employees, a Human Resources Department and company-wide team building events. This is a full-time gig. It’s a W2 kind of gig. I haven’t had a gig like this in almost seven years. And I’m looking forward to it in the way 16-year-old David looked forward to going on a date with that girl who finally showed some interest in him.
And I’m an emotional goddamn wreck over the whole thing.
I have not wanted to be liked so badly by anyone or anything since I was 16. OK, maybe 20. Fine, 25 and 26. As a younger man, I was emotive, sensitive, in deep touch with my feelings. I wrote moving poetry to help me sort out those feelings so that I could organize them and recall them later when I needed to understand yet another wave of young man emotional trauma. My mood and emotions changed with every gentle shift of mood or emotion, perceived or real. It didn’t matter. This is why I listened to bands like Jawbreaker and Sunny Day Real Estate and Jodeci.
I wanted to give love and be loved and was always afraid of rejection or that the job would eventually see how unspectacular I really was, or, perhaps even worse, find me spectacular for reasons I didn’t think were spectacular in the least. Sigh…
I’ll start this new W2 job four days before my birthday. I’ve gotten older, wiser, more calloused, cleverer and certainly better at managing my mood and emotions and feelings—or avoiding them altogether. And for the most part, it has saved me a lot of heartache. It’s kept me alone, and when it comes to matters of the heart—my heart—there is safety in solitude.
I was not wired for the corporate scene. My bullshit meter is too sensitive, I’m too loud. Yet I worked W2 jobs because, well, I needed money. And while I was in those jobs, I did my damndest to work hard during those 40 weekly hours while moonlighting as the kind of creative mercenary I really wanted to be. The day gig afforded me creative freedom. For a while it worked well. But eventually, the bullshit meter began sounding off and I had a hard time not throwing up the flag and calling to arms.
When my last W2 job was eliminated and I was laid off, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had gathered enough moonlighting freelance gigs to keep enough money coming so I didn't have to worry about that, and with the additional 40 weekly hours, I had more than enough time to finish my first book and dive into other projects that were heavy in passion but light in pay. For a while, I saw no reason to seek W2 employment so I became a full-time freelance mercenary. I loved it. Well, as long as I was able to scrape together enough money to stay afloat. I never wanted to be a starving artist, but I also never wanted to be a well-fed rat running the race up the ladder.
However, I grew tired of the freelance hustle. Eventually, concern over money had become plaque coagulating in the creative parts of my brain. The solitude had become an echo chamber of frustration. The clients became harder to enjoy. I wasn’t making enough money, I wasn’t enjoying the work and I haven’t published a book in five years. My course of action was no longer working. I needed to make a change or drive myself crazy and find myself giving up entirely to follow Fall Out Boy around the country like the human waste I would have become.
But no more. I signed an offer for a W2 gig that, after my greatest skills as a journalist were put to use, has revealed itself to me to be a gig that will provide me with what I need in a job of this kind. One that has money, opportunity, education and autonomy. This company seems to allow and support extra-curricular creative endeavors. You know, things like Literate Ape and soon enough, the other shit I’ve had simmering on the burners. The shit you will consume and love. Hell, they’ve all seen my website where I have a video of me dressed in a Catholic school girl uniform playing out a young girl telling a sad and noble tale. Yeah, I was at the point where I was done pretending to be anything that I wasn't just so I could land a well-paying day gig. If they didn’t want me, screw ’em, I didn’t want them.
So, they want me. They like me. They're excited to see the work I can do. And I want and like them. And I’m going to do a bang up job for them. We’re going to have fun. This is an incredible feeling.
But now that I’ve signed the offer and am preparing to start, the young man of yesteryear, the young man who I thought had grown up and stopped giving a shit and quit being so emo all the time, has returned. And it’s killing me.
What should I wear on my first day? Why hasn’t the HR gal replied to my email asking about when I should arrive on Monday and for whom I should ask to see? Am I being too needy? Did they see something on Instagram that turned them off? Are they going to rescind the offer?
And when I finally get an email back, I panic. How soon should I reply? Do I even need to reply? What does she really mean when she says, “We’re excited to have you start on Monday!”
Oh God. I need some Promise Ring or some Braid or some Boyz II Men.
But no. No. I reject the old ways. Remove my emotions. This is how I ended up with this job in the first place. And since signing the offer, I’ve felt that plaque in my brain begin to break up.
I have a hard time getting excited about things. I’m like an abused dog who always half-expects a kick to the head to come from anyone at any time. Or that everyone dreams of wanting to do nothing more than tear my heart out through my tear-stained eyes. But I’m as excited about this opportunity as much as I possibly can be. Because for the first time in a long time, it’s an opportunity that presents actual opportunities.
It’s just that it’s all so emotional.
Whatever. I don't care.