The last job I had made everyone say “Oh, that’s interesting! What a cool job!” but every burst of admiration made me wilt. I did not feel the same way about my last job. I enjoyed the work—I did. I was something of an advocate for parents of young children. I enjoyed meeting the families and assisting them. At my last job, I finally realized that all I want to do is write. I don’t need to be a published, awarded writer; I just need to write. My last job was an excellent opportunity for me, but that’s all it was: an opportunity, the excellence quickly diminishing.
Part of my job was to write notes, so, yeah, I was writing, but it was like repeatedly writing the alphabet, and my manager would just ask me to change the entire alphabet when she couldn’t read one of the letters.
Now I’m a cashier. Again. I never thought I’d be so happy to be a cashier. It’s about as repetitive and tedious as I remember, but this time around I’ve got a different mindset. Different in that, I’m actually positive and confident this time. I haven’t been alive long enough to have silver hairs of wisdom—hell, I haven’t worked at any one place for more than a year—but I’ve experienced enough to know that I’m delusional if I continue to convince myself I’m the only one whose a cashier. Again.
No more do people say to me “Oh, that’s interesting! What a cool job!” They just nod and inquire after my well-being and family, then my interests, which interest them, but I can see the concern on their faces: “Is that all she wants to be? Doesn’t she want more? She’s so young. She could be more.”
No, I don’t know that that’s exactly what goes on through every person’s mind, but those are words that have been said to me.
I could tell every single person who inquires what my ten-year plan is, but I have no intention of doing so.
I feel honored that many people believe I could do more than ring up items, but I am not so proud as to dismiss the work. Work is work. It’s not my dream job, but it’s a step toward my dream job. Do not underestimate my ability to dream and hustle. Your inability to visualize my end goal is not my fault—it is due to your lack of imagination.
“But it’s not even at a publishing company, Justine. Shouldn’t you be trying for an internship or something in the writing field? What are you even going to do with an MFA in writing?”
No. Obviously. A cashier is not working for a publishing company.
Sure, I could try, and I have, but even if I did, transportation is an issue. I can’t afford transportation. At my last job, most if not all of my money went to my bus and subway tickets. Most internships don’t pay and don’t offer insurance of any kind, which is what I need now more than experience so I’ll-be-hired-in-a-creative-field. And I am writing. Here. And there. I am writing.
I want my MFA in writing. I miss lecture halls. I miss heated discussions. I want to meet other writers in pursuit of higher dreams.
Yes, I want to write, but in order to do what I want, I have to do what I need to do.
It doesn’t make sense that working as a cashier is a step toward becoming a writer, but none of my favorite success stories make sense. They all just happened.