There is this really stupid scene in Girls where Lena Dunham is bitching about her job at GQ. She is sitting there freaking out that her working at a very affluent advertorial job has somehow inhibited her creative spirit. That having a nice paycheck, free food, and other amenities is killing her passion and wasting her talent as a “voice of her generation.” In fact, she goes as far to quit, TWICE, to better pursue her passions and non-stifled creative process. At the end of the episode, when she has finally resolved to try and do both the sell out writing gig and creative writing at home, we see her passed out over her computer with a blank page open.
When I watched this episode I wholeheartedly agreed with Salon’s article of the episode and thought that this was Ms. Dunham’s best look at the reality of trying to make it as a creative writer. Even more so trying to make it as a creative person in a world full of hot models, free bagels, and the unending reality of growing up. It was really interesting to see through Lena’s eyes this thin veil that was put over all of her coworkers eyes that somehow this job is given them that (paycheck) creative outlet to satiate their needs. Instead of her character enjoying the amenities and disregarding that little itch everyone feels when their creative spirit starts to die, we see in an over dramatization of the rebellious nature one feels when they realize they are being trapped in a cage. Although it was played up for humor, I find myself constantly thinking about that episode and finding myself wishing I could be as reckless and irresponsible as Hannah! Maybe not leaving GQ, but being able to actively speak up when I feel that the world is not aligning with the support of my passions.
When sitting down and finally trying to put myself into that creative zone after work sometimes, actually most times, I feel like Hannah at the end of that episode. The day has completely drained all reserve creative capacities. Instead of sitting down to create the “next great american novel” or hell, even writing down 10 ideas, I find myself sitting in front of the boob tube and just recuperating all of that burnt energy at work.
Work and what you do is supposed to be fulfilling. And sometimes it is, but what I really connected with in this story line for Hannah, was the fact that even doing something that you feel is socially defined as success can and will usually not match up with your personal ethos. No matter the luxuries, the benefits, or the salary, if it doesn’t match up with your goals in life, it is not a good match. And instead of creating the opportunity to have an emotional or creative outlet, so much of your energy is wasted on trying to force a good thing to be the right thing.
A good thing to the RIGHT thing.
Much of what happens in life is this pervasive march forward to death. We are constantly reminded that we are moving to in a straight direction with finite time to the same conclusion. And although we talk about living every moment like its your last, we are actually living a life of complacency and acceptance. As we continue our straight line, we start to compromise who we are and want to be to accept the system is our life. We slowly start to accept the benefits and amenities we receive as fair compensation for our sacrifice of personal growth and value. We trick ourselves into positions that on paper say we are helping people but ultimately don’t give us any meaning. We create a system of acceptance over appreciation of the dynamic.
As I am trying better to stretch my creative muscles and my writing muscles I seem to always find myself staring at a blank page with little to say because I don’t have the energy to put action into my words. But when I am writing I feel alive. Instead of that buzz of life I feel from pursuing my creative endeavors, I have chosen to give my energy to something that leaves me unfulfilled. And in doing so I have created a system of compromise and uneasiness because I wasn’t strong (or naive) enough like Hannah to see through that veil. I am allowing that itch to become normal and submissive to the assumptions that we all make of life instead of forging my own meaningful and rewarding experiences in life.
Ultimately, what I need to remember as I try to refocus my energies into my passions and my projects is that when choosing myself I have to address what I want out of life and can not let myself get disillusioned. Even if I have a title or job description that says I am helping people, in my heart I know I am not helping anyone. That my world is becoming smaller and smaller. That my routines are becoming less engaging and more like watching a clock tick down. I have to be able to be strong enough to let go of things that are not giving me that feedback and energy and ultimately pushing me forward to find what I consider rewarding in life, regardless of financial incentives or benefits. Now I can’t be idealistic and expect my parents to pay for everything, but when we talk about “taking responsibility” I have to be able to take responsibility for myself and what I want success to be.
If I feel that at the end of the day I am burned out with little less than nothing to give to what makes me want to live, well then, I have my energy misappropriated and need to get that back. I need to be willing to take drastic measures, improve my life, and learn to walk away and let go of the titles, the benefits, and the projects that are vexing and instead redistribute that energy into what I consider “rewarding”