Please keep in mind that this post is more than 3 years old. Opinions change. Tastes change. Everything changes. I may still agree with or like this, or I may not. But everything is kept up here for archival purposes.
You go your way… / May 30, 2005
My sister may be suffering from penis envy. Or… wallet envy. Whatever. The basic idea is that I have something at the moment, that she doesn’t. And in a manner that could seem random and unfair.
I’ve been in business for a little under a year now. (I’m about 2 weeks shy of the full term). And while it was a rough start, today I am doing okay. I can’t foresee tomorrow, but I take my concerns one day at a time*. And… you know. Starting a business is an incredibly risky and stupid thing. Even more stupid is my insistence on sticking to my work as a business rather than to myself as a freelancer. (As a freelancer, I could pick up a lot of work by going into other people’s offices and working on short-term projects for them.)
Meanwhile back home in New York State…
My sister and husband bought a house, which even in a small town, ain’t cheap. Shortly afterwards, her husband was fired for questionable reasons. Spent probably six months on unemployment. He’s found a job, but a job that pays considerably less than the previous one. In the mean time, they had an accident that wiped out their only vehicle. They’ve since replaced it with two more. And these are people who say they never had much money before.
I’m aware enough of my roots to easily see how it could seem unfair of life to to treat each of us these ways. Shouldn’t dedication and hard work be more greatly rewarded than risk and dissatisfaction? I see how I could have those same feelings, had small things in my life gone differently. I just think they’re crap, though.
First of all… relatives or strangers… we all live our own lives. Like an explosion set off at birth, we all take off in our own directions, right from the start. To wonder why you don’t have Donald Trump’s life misses the point. You have you own life to make do with what you will. Outside of a bad Disney movie, you’re never going to trade places with someone else. You’ll always be you. Stop giving a fuck about what the other person did, and do something with yourself.
Being brother and sister, raised in the same household, we did share as much in common as any two people could. Nothing outside of chance and genetic mutation favored me any more than her. You have no right to be pissy just because I temporarily have some success that you don’t. Not when we were both given the same building blocks. Not when you have successes in your own life that I only wish I could achieve.
And what if you aren’t pissy, and you just think I am full of myself? Well.. I probably am. You gotta be a little conceited to try some of the things I have. But honest-to-God… what’s the point of being family if we can’t be there for each-other. And right now, I’m probably more needy than my sister. I have great victories, wonderful successes, and brilliant ideas. But who can I share them with, without coming across as a braggart. And for every joy I wish I could share with someone, I promise you I have a dozen fears, misgivings, and doubts. I spend more time now doing things that I have no idea how-to than I ever have in my life. So, yeah, many of the things in my life, good or bad, I want to talk with someone about. And if not family, then who? I’m lucky enough to have a couple friends with whom I can share some of it. But family are really the people who should offer you their shoulder regardless of what has transpired between you. (The battles and resulting cold war between my sister and father are epic. But even so, I can tell they would both drop their harsh feelings instantly if one of them could muster the strength to be the bigger person. But you want to talk about a pig-headed family? I have aunts still arguing over who took care of who 35 years ago.)
And if you think I am conceited about whatever commercial success my business might have, then you have no idea how I’m gauging success. The money has always been just a means to an end; not an end unto itself. Even running a successful business is just another means. A-#1, right there at the top of my “why I’m happy” list, is the amount of self-determination I now have. I no longer cede 40% of my life to someone else to dictate how it should be spent. I no longer leach money from someone else’s cycle, but instead generate it on my own; like enjoying the fruits of planting a vegetable garden. Nobody has the power anymore, to use the phrase “or else”, with me. I am also now able to live my life completely by my own ethics. And as far as getting something good out of all of this, when a client comes to me and says how happy they are with the results of our projects, it’s all about me. “Look… I did that. I made someone else happy!”.
Certainly all that freedom and choice comes at a cost. I work incredibly hard and suffer from the previously-mentioned, self-induced stress. I take great chances with my own standard of living. And while I’ve been incredibly fortunate so far, not every project will end with good results. Even with the best of intentions and all due effort to succeed, fate will occasionally slam you face-first into a brick wall. If I stay on this course, I’m bound to have clients someday that go completely blinking nuts and try to reek havoc in my life and business. And as my careful wording of all this rambling probably betrays, I’m careful never to forget that all my business could simply disappear tomorrow. I will have finished everything I was working on, and simply not be able to find more work. It’s a thought I’ve gone to bed with on more than one night.
So yeah… we’ve led completely different lives. I genuinely hope my sister is as happy and satisfied with her choices as I am. I may find myself working at McDonald’s a month from now, and she could win the lottery. But as long as we can talk openly about why we are where and what we are… well… that’s family.
*I blame my parent’s for never-ending exposure to that slogan.