My decision to quit working for Starbucks was a surprise to me. I woke up one morning, got dressed, and then my body just refused to take me to work. I played like an ostrich instead, I pretended I didn’t exist. After a few hours I felt like a weight had been lifted off of me. Between tutoring and performing I was working an average of 25 hours a week at Starbucks for $9 per hour. That’s $225 a week. But, after every shift I was physically and emotionally drained. As a self consciously spoiled and privileged person, just acknowledging that made me feel guilty. Here I was with the cushy cashier job, involving almost no hard physical labor, interacting almost exclusively with people in my native tongue who were nice- most of the time. And yet, I was sick all the time, the knots in my back made my boyfriend (who works in a job with real stress) voice concern for my health.
$225 is not enough money to justify compromising what it is I came here to do.
My fixed monthly costs are about $1,000. That isn’t including food. The stress of the work coupled with the continuous nagging frustration that I didn’t have enough money to exhale made the prospect of continuing to work for subsistence wages….unpalatable. I enjoy the very rare privilege of knowing that I will never experience homelessness or real hunger. I am not estranged from my parents, I have friends and family that love me near the city. Any survival fears that I might have are a figment of my own overactive imagination. But it’s still hard to walk away from guaranteed income and into the wilderness of “selling comedy tickets” and “other things that might make money involving performing.” But I didn’t move to NYC to become a better barista, I came here to get better at comedy. I cannot justify another writing day lost to exhaustion or illness resulting from the strain of working at a job I hate. I have set better bridges on fire on my path toward the stage. Law school, desk jobs, health insurance, a job that doesn’t involve me asking my boyfriend for permission to talk about his bathroom habits.
My body is more intelligent at calculating risk than my rational mind. Let go, just breathe. Everything is already okay.