It’s 10 pm on a Friday night and I’m sprawled out on the living room floor picking up money, people, and cars. The girls are in bed, fast asleep, and I scold myself for not being a better babysitter and making them clean up this mess with me.
The oldest, Emile, loves board games. I mean OBSESSED. It’s adorable because what seven year old in 2016 begs you to play the game of Life?
“On your first turn, decide either to start a career, or to start college. Draw a career card. Draw a salary card.” Emile read. She loved reading the directions, so I acted like a foreigner to it all.
“Awww I don’t want this one.” She chose doctor. “I wanna be a engineer.”
Is seven too young to correct “a” vs “an”? I thought.
“Emile why do you want to be an engineer?”
“I want to make inventions, I already make inventions!” She shouted.
“Emile takes my toys and makes inventions. I don’t likeeeee it.” Ella, four, grabbed all the tiny pink and blue people and stuck them into cars. “Can I have the ballerina card?”
Emile scoffed, as every big sister does to little sister, with all her wisdom, “You have to draw it Ella, you can’t just be a ballerina because you want to.”
After a half hour of the game, I couldn’t imagine what winning would look like. Our three tiny cars passed through many spaces; STOP get married, STOP buy a house, have babies, taxes due, night school.
There were multiple times I wanted to gather it all up, put it away, sit them down, look into their huge naive brown eyes, and say “this is not what life is like.” I knew they were unphased by it all, too young to know or understand, but cleaning up the pieces of Life on a Friday night made me look at my own.
Here I was, 22, babysitting on a night where I imagine other 22 year olds were at the bar just settling into their first drinks. I should be jealous, maybe I am for a moment, but I remember why I’m here.
I refuse to choose just any career card. I want to be a ballerina like Ella. Well not exactly, but I might as well be a ballerina, because I am a writer. I choose to be an artist, a traveler, a nomad, and blur the lines of the typical 9-5.
As I work on short stories and screenplays, build my lexicon, my resume, my portfolio, I work as a server and I babysit. I am just beginning my career and writing for free is a REAL thing. These jobs make it possible for me to do what I love. I respect the side hustle.
I look around me and there are so many of us. Artists by day, bartenders by night; bohemians, vagabonds, brushing shoulders as waitresses and baristas.
We are the entrepreneurs pouring all our side-job money into a new venture or idea. We are modern-day Clark Kent’s, shedding button down shirts for capes. We are the night owls, the early risers, getting that fucking worm before any other bird. We respect the side hustle.
Be kind to your Uber driver, because he’s going back to culinary school. Tip your waitress, because she’s performing for free AGAIN later that week. Make eye contact with your baristas, smile, because they’re working on this or that till whatever AM the night before.
They’re tired, but they wouldn’t have it any other way. Support dreams and do not demean the means of following them. Be a ballerina. Respect the side hustle.