Or an artist, or a photographer or some other profession that doesn’t require six master’s degrees and ownership of 15 pairs of black or gray slacks and a stack of very crisp blazers. Recently, I went to an event that I found on Meetup….the group was for professionals that wanted to network. I thought it was perfect for me and I popped on some mascara and went on my way. The venue was nice enough and there were more than three people there so I thought, “Great! Excellent networking opportunity.” Yeah. Not so much.
It took me approximately 21 seconds to discover that I was an outsider and more than once, I was made to feel unwelcome. Conversation with slack wearer number 1 went something like this:
SW: “HI! Thanks so much for coming out to our event. I am a sales consultant for so and so firm. What do you do?” (her name tag read Meagan but I could have sworn I read, “square faced bitch that will commence judging in 6 seconds” in very fine print under her name.)
Me: “Thanks, I’m glad I was able to make it. I am a writer and I actually work for myself.”
SW: *raises eyebrows, glances around* “Oh, wow! That’s interesting. Like, you write books? Are you a novelist? What is, you know, your regular job?”
When I told her that writing is my regular job, I could feel the disinterest jumping off of her square face in large waves and suddenly I was made to feel paltry and unimportant. She dashed off, presumably to find an “actual professional” and for the rest of the evening, there was more or less of the same. After about 30 minutes , I made a quick exit and it was almost as if I could hear the room collectively sigh, “Oh, the creative is gone.” I’ll admit to being (a tad) melodramatic but really, that’s how they made me feel. I get paid to write professionally thus I am a professional. At least that’s how I feel but maybe I am in the minority? I left there feeling pretty shitty which is unusual for me. I don’t usually let people make me feel bad…angry maybe, but not a down in the dumps feeling. I had been surrounded by people who looked at my profession as hobby, a joke even. Surely not something important enough that it warranted joining a professionals group that’s clearly for, you know, real professionals.
I clicked clacked my aching feet (I actually wore heels and what the hell was I thinking) back to my car turning everything over and over in my head and by the time I hobbled up to the driver door, I kicked myself in the ass for even letting those pretentious assholes get to me. So what they didn’t think of my job as “professional”…who the hell were they anyway? Being a writer does not equate “nerd with glasses locked away in small hovel surviving on sunflower seeds.” Where did that stereotype come from? Not all of us are starving artist and even if we are, so WHAT? Writers manage and create content for websites, they write articles for TIME magazine, they edit content for that same magazine, they are journalist or advertisers, they create temporary escapes from reality and personally, that last one is my favorite. The annoying thing is this is that this isn’t the first time I have heard this kind of nonsense and not just about writers- about any unconventional profession choice. Why is being a creative not equal with a being a professional? It’s like those slack wearers think we just sit around splashing in paint and singing the ABC’s. An acquaintance of mine is a photographer and no one around her took her seriously, not even her own husband. They all urged her to find a real job and to remember that she had children to support. Ridiculous. Now, that same friend has gotten a million and twelve accolades and her work has been featured some of everywhere. And guess what? Her children are very well taken care of. Take that, slack wearers.
I said all of that to say, don’t ever let anyone dictate to you how you should live your life, in any aspect. I always knew that I would never be the type of woman with a 9-5 sitting behind a desk. I always knew I would never be holding board meetings and competing to be at the top of some already established firm. If you are, then hooray great, I am genuinely happy for you. My mommy sits behind a desk every day and holds lots of meetings and she loves it all. The point is that we are all different and you might like to make your money wearing slacks and Louboutins. Me? I prefer to make mine half dressed, wrapped in a dingy robe holding a pot of coffee while I make magic on my keyboard. That’s my reality. And when I have phone calls with potential clients, they most definitely think of me as a professional.
So for all you slack wearers that all but booted me from your little meeting, you can kiss my robe covered behind. Look for my professional picture on the back of my debut novel.
Until next time, keep smiling.
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