I was born and raised an artist in Iowa, where I was fed a steady diet of corn and bootstrap capitalist mythology in early life that I'm currently bucking the crap out of on this wild journey through space. Allons y!
A brief history of my disillusionment:
I started my first (paid) job at age 14. From then on, I had an average of 2.5 jobs at any given time in the introvert-torture fields of retail and food service. This continued until my first full-time job after graduation with AmeriCorps VISTA, where I might have had another part-time job if it weren't forbidden by the program's rules.
Having ONE job seemed like #TheDream of the "Independent Woman" myth I'd been chasing while desperately shoving down the reality of the inherent injustices surrounding having "a purpose" and the arbitrary values applied to a human being's productivity.
After earning poverty wages with AmeriCorps, (in exchange for a Segal Education Award of $5,500 that made no noticeable dent in my still-growing student loans) I started making a steady income for the first time in my life working at a community college. I had my own apartment, my own car, I bought name-brand cat food, I subscribed to meal delivery kits, I purchased the latest technology and pretended to be satisfied. I started grad school, thinking pulling my Self in multiple directions might bring back the excitement for the future I'd had when I was working 3 jobs at once. I lasted 5 years in the illusion of success before I couldn't accept that this is what happiness was supposed to look like. For better or for worse, education was the catalyst to what I hope will be my success as a person and not just a worker.
Through my 20s, I studied Anthropology and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa, earning myself a BA majoring in the former field with a minor in the latter. While working on my degree, I experienced two immersive experiences on polar opposites of the economic spectrum: an internship at Walt Disney World where I worked in a Signature Restaurant where celebrities and millionaires regularly dined... and a bio-anthropological field study trip to the Udzungwa Mountains of Tanzania in an impoverished community whose primate conservation problem could probably be solved for a full year for the cost of a single sushi plate at Disney. I faced the glitter, spectacle, and privilege of what I'd been told was everyone's true goal in Orlando. I faced the truth of the human potential for happiness and "a purpose" wholly divorced from profitability in Tanzania.
At the UofI, I'd planned to work in primate conservation and primatology until I switched my major from Biology to Biological Anthropology. The required coursework in cultural anthropology shifted my focus from the preservation of our evolutionary cousins to the emancipation of our human siblings. I began waking up to the systemic injustices behind the uphill battle of poverty I was told education was the life-raft out of... and I got angry. Angry that all my life I had been told that trying harder than you feel able, prolonged physical and psychological suffering, and repeated sacrifice of psychic comforts and of the Self were the necessary building blocks of success. That I owed it to anyone and everyone to make more and more money until I would eventually be free and whole.
It simply isn't true. It never was, and my advent in the study of prehistorical humanity informed that constantly re-stoked, righteous fire. As I explored different jobs and volunteer opportunities trying to find that thing that would make the chase of basic necessities like food, insurance, and housing not feel like a never-ending battle, I just got more angry, anxious, and depleted.
Throughout undergrad, I was deeply involved in social justice and activism, and during the events leading up to the 2016 election, hot on the campaign trail of Bernie Sanders and radical socialist idealism. I continued into graduate-level education in Depth Psychology and the Engaged Humanities at Pacifica Graduate Institute where I will soon earn myself an MA.
All of these teachings and experiences have been carving me a path that I all-too-sluggishly realized did not wind through an 8-hour work day behind a desk 5 days a week. So here I am, world. About to be unemployed for the first time in over half of my life and on the precipice of something terrifying and invigorating as betting on my Self and trusting that it knows a better way than 'pay bills and die'.
“Midlife is the time to let go of an over-dominant ego and to contemplate the deeper significance of human existence.” ― Carl Gustav Jung.
The Timeline so far
June 22nd, 2018:
I turned 30 and my unconscious started churning up an anxiety-fueled, stir-crazy midlife crisis.
February 26th, 2019:
I won an auction on GovDeals.com for a retired 2003 GMC/Bluebird 36' school bus for the low, low price of $1000.
Today and beyond: I am busy at work renovating this bus to make it a livable, low-carbon footprint, sustainable tiny home for me and my four furry friends. We're learning new skills, practicing old ones, and headbutting new challenges every moment and hoping it all pays off.