Don’t Quit Your Day Job, But Don’t Quit Your Night Job Either

Dan Herczak

By A film director by trade, possessing a large wheelhouse due to the nature of the times. Excellent communicator; is in his element interacting with actors in a clear way while maintaining their freedom of expression. Can consolidate the workflows of divegent parties into a cohesive and creative whole.

It is common knowledge nowadays that college students don’t so much graduate as are thrown into the river with lead boots, by a society which is under no illusion the choice to ‘sink or swim’ is not very binary at all. The lead boots, in this metaphor, being student debt, perhaps they should be gold boots, don’t read too into it.

Going to school is for many people blissful and unobtrusive. Yes, you have to put in work on that thesis, and partying is no joke, but for most of your life up until this point, all the authority figures have secretly been subservient to you, from teachers to parents to the thin blue line. Nobody was allowed to ruffle your feathers, because you were the future, damn it!

Now you’re the present. Graduation being a total power reversal is shocking enough on its own, but coupled with an asthmatic economy it can prove an immense burden to the psyche. Neither the self-aware jokes of fellow struggling millennials, nor the over-concerned sighs of the elders who ‘remember a time when you could work a night job to pay your way through school’ help very much in a practical sense.

The worst part is, it’s not society’s fault, it’s ours. Many people see college as something to be experienced passively, like K through 12. You listen to Woody Allen – you show up, expecting success. You listen to the folks, and you do the homework and write the thesis. It all revolves around getting that piece of paper at the end. A degree certifies competence, or at least a passing glance in its direction. It’s the last door that must be unlocked before you are released into the world to bask in the sunlight of real life. Right? Wrong.

Real life is right now, already, in college. College isn’t meant to be a test to see whether or not we have the minerals to make it out in the big bad world. College is big bad world lite. All the tools you need, and plenty of tools you don’t, are put in front of you. Whether you use them to get a degree or get a career is your choice, and don’t be fooled into thinking that the first begets the second.

Plenty of us have dreams that get put on the backburner to get the degree. Maybe it’s novel writing, where a successful book sale – the product of years of work – can net you $5,000 total. Maybe it’s dancing, or taking care of animals. Maybe it still is to become an astronaut. Maybe you think you don’t know, but you actually do. Maybe you won’t allow yourself to do it, because it seems stupid, or the folks won’t like it, or it won’t pay off those loans. Most of our wildest dreams come with a caveat – don’t quit your day job.

You don’t have to, and you shouldn’t. What you do have to do, is work at the night job, your real dream, regardless. Do it, even five minutes at a day, whatever it is. That’s the only way to get paid to have fun. Do your night job until it becomes a day job, which will take time. If you quit your night job, you’re stuck relegating it to a hobby.

Inevitably, though, most of us don’t get it right in college. Don’t fret. That’s what college is there for.

As you burn through those halcyon years, productively or no, the mounting student debt is most likely always in the back of your mind. Deep in the back, because procrastination is an art and you are Picasso, but it’s there nevertheless. Consider where you would be now if you had started taking that ‘night job’ seriously one year ago. Realize that no matter what happens, you will have a day job to which you will be shackled, and a night job which you covet, and will most likely do whether paid for it or not. It’s nice to be paid, though, is it not?

For now, that day job is college; in a few years, it will be some low-level position that will seem far from your actual aspirations. We all have to break off those lead boots at some point. The choice presented to you is whether you will start removing them now, on dry land, doing something you love, or years from now, when you’ve already hit the water.

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