A delicious new conversation has erupted due to Maddie Grant's Xer Meme. Matt Baehr of BlogClump fame tagged me and now I am here picking up what Maddie is putting down.
The gist of the conversation? "Have Xers Sold Out?"
I think I quit my first real job out of college because of that question. My younger sister (who was attending art school in Chicago by day and singing in an all-girl punk band called "Twat Vibe" at the time) accused me of selling out. In her eyes, I had given up on my idealistic dreams of being a poet/artist in exchange for wearing suits to my marketing job where I made a whopping $26K a year.
But guess what? Along with loving stationary and pens and pretty paper; I also really got a kick out of seeing my name on a business card for the first time. I loved the chance to "change something from the inside" and it made me feel like I'd achieved something special. I liked wearing suits. I liked having an office. I liked having a steady paycheck and access to logo items. Who couldn't use a dozen golf towels with my company's logo on it? Class-y.
But my sister's comments made me wince. Had I sold out? What if I had? Should I try to do something else? Was it too late? Had I become just another cog?
I quit my job. I don't think I claimed the "sell out" reason at the time, but I know it played a role. I was a rebel in high school and had always prized individuality and creativity above all else. After I quit my job, I decided to immerse myself in poetry again and started working on a plan to have a creativity workshop based on exploring the five senses (an idea I still really like). I went so far as to have the area art studio, which was supported by grants from the NEA, agree to let me host the classes there. But I doubted myself too much and backed away...and went back into the "corporate world" where I could at least be sure I had insurance.
Today I truly believe I am living a GenX-agreeable lifestyle. Yes, I have the regular job, but I also do creative things on the side (and get paid for them). Yes, I have a nice car and live in the 'burbs with my husband, child, and dog...but I also went rollerskating with my sister after I had my daughter and still listen to the Cure on rainy days. I still push the envelope, too. I still expect more from my workplace than a paycheck. And yes, I would still walk away from a workplace if I didn't enjoy it. Absolutely.
I bring creativity to my day-to-day job and push into new areas focusing on building relationships. I do a lot outside of my paid work to learn and broaden my horizons...Gen Xer's are all about access to knowledge and I am no different.
I think the biggest change for me has been in my beliefs. I believe in myself more and consequently believe in others more than I ever have. I am hyper-aware of the changes that have taken place recently for our society and the ability for all of us to communicate with each other with an amazing speed!
Matt's opinion matches my own. I haven't sacrificed my integrity or morals for a paycheck. I've been able to apply my spirit and desire to change things to my work - all of my work.
This was fun to think about - thanks to Matt (and Maddie) for passing this on to me! Now, I will tag a few more people on this for their thoughts:
Elizabeth Weaver Engel