I roll out of bed at around 4:30am even after a 1:00am clock out at work a short 3.5 hours prior. My phone lies on my nightstand lit up with Nordstrom Rack emails, Tinder messages, and an option to hit “Sleep.”
Next step is usually a trip to the bathroom to wash the make up residue from my eyes I failed to get off properly the night before. I head to the kitchen next, snap the lid on the Keurig for coffee and crack two eggs for my omelette.
My green Herschel backpack is stuffed to the top with food, clothes, and other random items I’ll need for the next several hours.
I pull my plaid pajama shorts off and change into a pair of multi-color gym shorts and a Lululemon tank. The walk to the gym is a short 8 minutes where I begin my first job of the day.
My status at 9am is as follows:
Job #1 – Check.
Workout – Check.
Dark circles beneath my eyes: Check. Check. Check.
After a shower, I hop onto the metro to Court House station in Arlington, VA where my freelance marketing gig is. Outside the office is a giant mural, overloaded with every color in the spectrum. Step into the office and you’ll find boxes, several desks, and a keg of Yuengling light.
“Hunter*, what are Saturdays for?” “THE BOYS!” He replies.
…this is how my Tuesdays usually go.
My work uniform changes from gym clothes, to jeans paired with a cute shirt and then a transition to a tight black tank usually worn with dark-wash shorts and Converse-like nonslip shoes. A Flying Dog bottle opener usually hangs out of my back pocket as I head to my third job of the day.
“Work views” are beer taps and a dusty Absolut Oak bottle that is never used. “Networking” is chatting up bar guests with the occasional resume/business card exchange. “#Goals” are…um, I don’t really know.
A 23 year old single bartender living in the nation’s capital: a demographic I presently fall into which I have come to find out is few and far between. I’m not enrolled in grad school, I didn’t move here to be with a significant other, I don’t have a set career path. My day-to-day activities don’t involve long commutes on the Metro, responding to emails in record-setting times, or lunch breaks with co-workers at the food truck outside of the office
My schedule is long and not the most glorious, but I don’t allow myself to complain. Ok, maybe the ocassional “I’m tired AF stop talking to me,” comment, but it’s a life I chose for myself.
I recently was offered a full time 9-5 gig. Benefits, an entry level salary, a “smart choice.” One that would have certainly removed me from the uncommon demographic I have stumbled upon. One that would turn my 16 hour days into 9, one that would give my loved ones a peace of mind that I’m more financially and mentally stable.
I wanted to respond to the email with eagerness, but as my fingers began to type the response, I hit backspace.
“Thank you so much for this opportunity. I would love to acc-”
I politely declined the offer.
I’m trying really hard not to sound like the cliche millennial with a “~go with the flow~” attitude about my professional life because the truth is, I am very much looking forward to the day that I can afford to take weekends off. I can’t wait to tell my mom that I landed a job and be genuinely excited about it. I can’t wait to look back and say to myself:
The unglorious 16-20 hour work days were worth it. You made it.
But, I want to be excited about it. Maybe the next job I land won’t be exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life, but why should I have to settle for something so farfetched from where I want to be to feel like I belong?
It’s hard for some people to understand a lot of the choices I make, and it’s even tougher to explain them. But, I’ve found that it’s best not explain them at all.
Just because I don’t know exactly where this path will take me, at least I know it’s going to take me somewhere.
People call me crazy for working 3 jobs. To be honest, I could probably get by with only bartending full time if I wanted to. However, I’d rather be living a life that encompasses all of my interests…while getting paid for it. And if that means working my ass of day in and day out, that’s ok.
So what do you do for a living?
The stereotypical DC question to ask. Sometimes people are just genuinely interested, but other times it’s to compare themselves. Is my job better than hers? Do I make more money? It’s a question I get all of the time, usually as I’m pouring a beer for them as they are in the midst of complaining about how miserable their job is. It’s often an assumption that bartending is “just for extra cash,” and for a lot of people it is. But for me, it’s not. At least for now.
I don’t go into detail about my long days, because I know they don’t really want to hear it. I used to feel like I had to explain myself and my situation often replying with:
“Well I’m just trying to figure out what I want to do so I work a few jobs seeing what will fit best for me.”
Who wants to get up at 4:30am and finish the day at 1am? Society would classify “us” as: crazy, unhappy, and overworked.
Crazy? Maybe. Overworked? At times, yeah. Unhappy? Who says?
It would be taboo for me to say, “This life I have chosen for myself makes me genuinely happy.” Even if it’s the truth.
I moved to a new city to for one reason: to create a new life. One that may be messy, exhausting, and challenging at times, but I find happiness in the fact that I built it on my own. I may have to dig beneath the several thousand dollars of rent payments, Uber charges, and shitty boys to find it, but it’s still there.
I shouldn’t have to explain why this life makes me happy, and neither should you.
Be good people and make healthy choices. Know your worth, but know you’ll forget your worth at times too, and that’s OK. Learn from it. Parents, peers, and privileged strangers will tell you a steady career is the key to happiness, which is fine, but don’t let them define your successes and contentment if you’re not in the same state of mind. Take each opportunity presented to you and run with it. Whether that opportunity involves asking customer’s how they’d like their burger cooked or traveling the world with Nat Geo (someday…), it doesn’t matter. Every job, every shitty guy, every individual experience makes you more than who you were yesterday. And that’s awesome.
My Tuesdays may be different from your Tuesdays, but it’s just a Tuesday. And I like Tuesdays. I hope you do too.