‘Freelancing’ is actually short for ‘being an unemployed person with a college degree in your mid-twenties to mid-thirties who has some idea of how to make money via the internet.’ As a freelancer, you’re most often found ‘working’ (read: writing emails and watching YouTube videos) in coffee shops that offer free WiFi with purchase of a beverage. You have, perhaps, one or two ‘clients’ (again, short for ‘friend of a friend that has been paying you for an extremely short-term service in a noncommittal manner that in no way implies there will ever be a ‘steady stream’ of money) on whom you rely to fund perhaps 20 to 40 percent of your cost of living. Despite the fact that you make the remaining majority of your income (60 to 80 percent) through a combination of menial service jobs such as ‘barista,’ ‘server,’ ‘bartender,’ and ‘office assistant,’ unemployment checks, food banks, food stamps, short-term loans, and ‘borrowed’ money from parents, your most common reply to the question, “So, what do you do?” is the quick, self-satisfied response, “Oh, I’m a freelancer.”
A Job That is Unsatisfyingly Similar to What You Ideally Want to be Doing
This kind of job is one you take after a certain amount of mental back and forth and an eventual difficult compromise. “It is a writing job… That’s what I always wanted to be…a writer,” you say, upon a salary offer of around $30,000 with decent benefits after a vaguely positive but mostly awkward series of interviews with the “Chief Experience Officer,” “Information Guru,” and “WordPress Ninja.” But the position you’ve accepted is “Content Manager” and in actuality you’ll be writing articles on real estate and educational resources for first-time homebuyers at a startup absolutely filled with business casual Web 2.0 enthusiasts who ‘get’ the internet. This is, of course, incredibly far off from what you really want to be doing (a novelist), but also frustratingly close enough that you figure it will work for your resume; it will eventually land you a more suitable job. Over time, however, you begin to have some serious existential crises about becoming a total ‘normie’ and find that you are unable to procure any shred of bohemian or intellectual dignity from what you’re devoting the majority of your time to.
Being a barista is technically almost identical to working fast food but without the unmentionable stigma that fast food carries that is “being totally ghetto,” or basically just “being really unseemly.” This is because as a barista you’re much less likely to have coworkers that don’t share your worldview/ don’t genuinely enjoy and promote mainstream values and clientele that generally thinks you’re ‘cool’ or superior in some way because, they feel, you have an in-depth knowledge of the correct (i.e. Italian) way to make a macchiato, for example, and how stoic you appear while executing the extremely detailed task of preparing a latte (note: not applicable for Starbucks baristas). Being a barista further allows you, generally, to control the music played over the stereo system in your coffee shop, which further adds to the street cred of the barista position as well as your better-than-fast-food worker status, and as additional benefits you receive tips, don’t have to wear an unseemly uniform, and can sometimes hang out with your friends. In all, being a barista is an OK job, but not one that ‘gets you anywhere,’ and as such is typically a transitional venture, because you definitely don’t want to be making people’s skinny lattes for the rest of your life.
Usually reserved for ‘alternatives’ that are in college or newly post-college that perceive themselves as a bit more stylistically refined than other members of their culture, you work retail because you’ve taken it upon yourself to assume the role of cultural arbiter at a place like Buffalo Exchange, American Apparel and Urban Outfitters. Retail positions as a rule can generally lead ‘nowhere,’ except perhaps to ‘Manager’ or rarely, something called ‘Regional Manager.’ Resultingly, these jobs are treated basically as transitional duties one must accomplish to make ends meet before finding a career job, unless, of course, you think retail and fashion is your ‘talent’ and strive to one day be the ‘head buyer’ at some independent vintage shop in Williamsburg or some amalgamation of the Cobra Snake and Dov Charney.
If you’re reading this blog and work fast food you’re either a struggling ‘actor’ in LA, you’ve ‘given up’ and have made a sort of unconscious statement about your incredibly authentic existential apathy and honestly not ‘giving a fuck,’ or you’re extremely motivated to appear as authentic/ironic as possible and thus have found the most underpaying, demeaning job available. Either that or you’re genuinely poor and through some anomalous situation have arrived at this blog, perhaps via a Google search for “food stamp benefits for part-time fast food employees,” or something.
Typical Office Job
Like working in fast food, working the typical office job indicates that you’ve basically given up on your life goals. Unlike working in fast food, however, you’ve used your college degree to settle/compromise on a job that pays well with decent benefits (because, well, it’s worth the money). You are comfortable with business casual, well-spoken and socially secure enough to answer interview questions like “Can you describe a time in your professional life in which you had to overcome adversity?” and “What are your three best qualities, and if hired, how will they make you a positive asset to our team?” with gusto and confidence. At the office, you’re agreeable enough – working as an administrative assistant or some other non-specialized but business-oriented position – but you avoid lunch with coworkers because in the back of your head, your job is, from a certain, unavoidable perspective, a bit depressing.
A Job You Actually Like That Pays Above Minimum Wage
Pursued by so many but attained by so few, A Job You Actually Like That Pays Above Minimum Wage is reserved for less than .000001% of the population, and as such cannot be written about here for lack of field data and informational resources. One can only speculate on its opulent mysteries, and hope, one day, to come across such a significant, satisfying goldmine that pays the bills and makes you happy at the same time.