Trouble (sadisticseraph) wrote,

Advice is a Form of Nostalgia

I paint nails at Beauty Bar sometimes. Not a lot. The money isn't great but it can be fun so I'll pick up a shift whenever they really need someone. Despite the fact that I haven't spent much time in the bar, the place drips with nostalgia for me. I work there because Lefty used to work there. My first dorm room was a few blocks away and I wish I'd known about the job back then. In college this would have been great money and I would have had a blast doing it. I walk along 14th street and I wish that I could whisper to my 19 year old self
"Take that job dancing at Webster Hall. You'll love it. Paint nails at Beauty bar. Ignore all the things your know-it-all boyfriend tells you. All he knows is how to have rich parents. It's not actually a skill."
I wish so hard it hurts sometimes.

The other day I was working there and fate gave me a huge gift; someone looking for advice, on a problem I'd actually had. She sat down for a manicure and we started to talk. She was young, confused, living with her parents. She was just out of college and overwhelmed by the lack of jobs and the burning desire to create....something. All potential and no direction. A pendulum pulled to its zenith and not a single sense of gravity. I lost a year of my life to that fear, that weightlessness. It will always be one of my biggest regrets. I don't know if she somehow sensed this in me, or I had already told her that I lived off a number of creative jobs, or she just told this problem to everyone.
She said, with a small sigh,
"I just....I don't really know what to do with my life. I have this creative writing degree but that won't make me money. I know I should get a job but... I don't want to get stuck forever in some job I don't like."

Forever is a stupid concept. Nothing in this world is actually forever. Everything grows or erodes or meanders or dies. Nothing stays the same. But the idea that it does, the fear that a choice could trap us or that our circumstances will never or could never change, is paralyzing. It causes so much suffering.

So I said to her what I wish I'd heard when I was in her place. (Not that no one said this to me, I just didn't hear it.)
"Just get a job," I told her. "Get any old stupid job. You can leave it whenever you need to. Once you get started doing *something* it'll give you the momentum to do *more* things.
She looked thoughtful for a minute and said
"Yeah. That makes sense."

I can't be sure, but I *think* she heard me. I hope she did.
I only wish I'd found a way to add
"And if you have a know-it-all boyfriend, odds are good you know just as much as he does."
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Whether she has a know-it-all boyfriend or not, she surely has people who sound confident and she believes they know more because she's in doubt herself, not because they necessarily know more.