I turned 25 yesterday, which seems such an awfully big number. It’s an age that modelling agencies would probably prefer not to hear about (maybe I’ll just start telling people I’m 21 and work my way up again) and it’s a number that I would have liked to associate with some degree of success but, alas, I’m still nought but a student and one of those floundering creative types scraping an existence in Sydney's Inner West. Whilst I’m certainly proud of some of my achievements over the past year (modelling overseas for the first time, writing and performing stand-up, beginning my Master’s degree, routinely flossing), I’ve also had to reconcile a little disappointment in myself because I’m still blundering about with multiple sources of income (a little bigger every year but not so notable yet). I haven’t entirely fixed my sights on what to do with my life either, which, to be fair, is probably the reason that my income is the scattered, malicious poltergeist of my tax agent’s nightmares.
However, I do find it interesting and yes, incredibly funny, that so many creative personalities that we're exposed to on social media fail to disclose the financial struggles of living a freelance lifestyle. We tend to revere the ‘slashies’ of our generation without entirely paying attention to the concept that if a person is forced to have their fingers in so many pies it probably means they’re not making a great deal of cash out of any one of these pursuits – at least, not yet.
It feels embarrassing and shameful to scrounge a living in customer service or bizarre freelance jobs when you’re so fiendishly led to believe that every mid-profile creative person is earning excellent money (from who? Who is paying them?) and being sent all of those wonderful free things from designers while they’re at it. As an aside: free things from designers are only 60% fun and 40% the anxiety of realising that you have become their promotional mule in a deceptive capitalist nightmare. We’re all consuming and contributing to this grand illusion supported by a simple availability heuristic and I think that, perhaps, a little transparency could be valuable in this case – you know, so we can all just calm the fuck down for a moment. Somehow I don’t think that I have garnered an audience exclusively of trust-fund children and aristocrats, so you must be at least somewhat aware that the job market for us over-educated, painfully ambitious millennials is not entirely booming. We have to make a living wherever and however we can.
Whilst the majority of my income certainly comes from freelance writing and modelling, I also work at a clothing store two days a week to pay rent and substantiate my income when clients wander astray from their billing department or the fashion world arbitrarily decides that I’m about as in-vogue as a shower drain hairball for a month. I can count the number of Saturdays I’ve had off work in a year on one hand (what are they like? Do you guys eat croissants? I dream of the possibilities).
Out of all of my friends I have absolutely held the greatest amount of casual jobs. Here are some of the awful and weird positions I’ve held over the past four years to make rent whilst pursuing my wholly improbably creative dreams:
Selling Used Underpants Online
Oh boy, yes indeed, we are off to a strange start. I signed up to a website at one point that had evidently nudged out a successful niche in the realm of the panty-sniffing fetish economy. I managed to rid my clothing drawers of a great number of Bonds pants purchased in the early 2000s in this period by negotiating with men anonymously online and mailing them pants I wore for two days or so. A morally controversial vocation that I entertained for approximately three months before supposing that it was neither the most time-efficient nor high-paying cash scheme that I could commit to.
Copywriting For Department Store Catalogues
This job doesn’t sound all that terrible until I inform you that it was a job performed for nine hours a day on a warehouse floor that did not receive natural sunlight and was located approximately one and a half hour’s drive from my house. All of my co-workers were lovely so I stayed at this job for about eight months but it also started at 8am so that by the time I reached the office I would slump over the passenger seat of my car every morning, weep a tad, and seriously consider phoning in sick despite already having made the journey (I legitimately did that once).
Waitressing In A Café
I did this job for a hilariously small amount of cash at 21 years-old. The business had clearly shrewdly cottoned on to the notion that there are people who will work for literally any amount of money and then conveniently leave without much of a fuss when life becomes more promising. The manager once laughed while I was reaching for my bag out of the top shelf because he kept all of the café’s change in the same area and sniggered that my skull would be crushed if it came down as well. I was not overly pleased.
Working At A Call Centre
This job involved cold-calling random numbers provided by a computer program and attempting to subject people at home to arduous surveys about Government work or town planning (generally around dinner time because what the fuck do I care?) Because this was a company exclusively designed for data collection and had no commercial interests, every phone number in Australia was fair game, even those numbers that had elected to be put on no-call lists. This meant that the great majority of the phone calls that I conducted involved angry grown humans telling me to fuck off at wild volumes.
Re-writing School Transcripts For Foreign Medical Students
Yeah, I was not qualified to be doing this job. I apologise to every international student who, in the period of 2014-2015 may have come across instructions for complex health and safety standards that read: “Put the thing in the part where the other thing is, maybe”.
To be entirely fair, this list probably represents about half of the various jobs that I’ve held. I’ve come to a point where I literally cannot remember all of the stupid places that I’ve been employed until I walk past a building and recall a dreaded 7 weeks or so that I became acquainted with it. And while I am lucky for the moment in the sense that my writing work is becoming increasingly valuable for reasons unbeknownst to me and my casual job in the clothing store is outlandishly flexible to my modelling career, I shan't pretend that I'm above returning to any of the above positions should the need arise. Except perhaps the pants thing, my underwear are absolutely too fancy these days.