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'I hate everything I've ever done.'
A letter to the editor (me).
I’m currently working on (finally) finishing my portfolio site: I’ve been working as a freelance copywriter for a couple years and I took the last few months off because I needed a break, but now I need to get back into it (at least a little) because I need money. Here’s the thing: I fucking hate writing about things that I’ve done. It makes me feel like I hate everything that I’ve ever done, which isn’t totally true, because I mostly feel indifferent-to-okay about work. Frankly, I used to work as a freelance writer—think like, personal essays and listicles for places like VICE and other websites that don’t exist anymore—and my work was inherently embarrassing because it was about me, me, me and I always earned like, $300 max. So maybe I’ve just trained myself to think of all work as embarrassing. So now all writing about myself makes me feel cringe and awful, even if it’s just making a portfolio of work I’ve done….like a normal person who has done work would do.
Why am I writing to you? I suppose I want you to tell me what to do, or what this means: should I never do copy work again, since writing about the work on a little Squarespace portfolio makes me want to rip out my own teeth? Does it ever get easier for anyone? Can someone just give me a million dollars?
The Version of You Who’s Been Sitting at her Desk for Five Hours Muttering ‘Fuck This’ Every Thirty-Three Minutes
Dear Version of Me Who’s Been Sitting at her Desk for Five Hours Muttering ‘Fuck This’ Every Thirty-Three Minutes,
Wow. Your words really resonate with me: mostly because I am you, but also because there’s a certain universal truth coming up in what you’ve written. That truth is simple: we all hate talking about ourselves in one way or another. I know that you love to talk all the live-long day about guys you’ve dated, potential haircuts, and childhood injuries—you don’t have a problem getting personal when it comes to certain subjects, you know? But work is different. You’re insecure about work. You hate figuring out what to do for money and you hate talking about what you’ve done for money even more. Some people are just like that.
‘But why am I like this?!’ you shriek. Maybe it’s because you graduated college in 2013 and thought you would like, start a blog and then write a book or whatever: Lena Dunham had just sold a show to HBO called Girls and anyone with a funny twitter account had a book-to-TV deal, like literally anyone, and your idea of what your life was going to be was like, entirely based on twee bullshit, I guess is what I’m saying. So everything you did after that in the way of ‘work’ felt like a huge performance, a lie you were method acting—everyone feels this way to some extent, though, and that’s why ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ is a thing and why everyone cared about Anna Delvey. My point is: you’re not particularly special or deficient.
You just don’t love work.
The ‘work’ that was formative to you was all Twitter and bullshit. Trying to have an online persona in the 2010s was like breathing, but if breathing were humiliating: it was natural (and insufferable) and it came easily to you, because you were 23 or whatever. The jobs that came out of that were blogging gigs that paid $11/hour and rotted your brain away, but they led to other jobs that paid more and gave you health insurance, and those jobs led to jobs that paid even more, so much more that you could buy your own health insurance. Why do I bring this up? Just to remind you: it’s all work, even the bullshit stuff. It was always work. You were born into a time of image and identity-making that was framed as fun, but all those posts were work: you made them of your own free will, yeah, but someone was always selling something off your page views. You weren’t the platform boss. You were just rolling the dice.
Okay, so this is a lot of shitty metaphor mixing. But whatever, isn’t that what people write to advice columnists for anyway? Anyway. Have you ever heard of manifesting? The law of attraction? I know you have because of all those years you lived in Los Angeles. I know you think that it’s new age bullshit and whatever, but here’s the thing: you attract what you put out. That’s why you’re hesitant to put things out there about the work you’ve done—you’re afraid of getting more work, you’re afraid it won’t work out, you’re afraid you’ll be doing the same thing forever and most of all, you’ll afraid you’ll never do anything you want to do because half of the time you don’t know what that is.
Relax. Don’t get your shit all twisted because you have to do one thing that feels bad. Life is long. You’ll publish your little portfolio site and it’ll be a relief, because you can stop sending people that Google doc that just has links to all the shit you’ve worked on (I know you think that’s a better portfolio anyway, but not everyone has your free spirit, jk but no jk). You’ll do things you feel good about and things you feel fine about and things you hate and some things that you love. Some will pay, some won’t, some will pay off way later. Whatever. It’s not that big of a deal. Media is fucked and everything might be miserable, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. Trust me.
The Version of You Who’s Cosplaying as a Sanctimonious Advice Columnist for Yourself