Podcast: Do Our Dreams Expire or Change?
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F1: You're listening to the Uptown Bourgeois podcast. Let's be weird snobby and intellectual together.
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M4: This week, I want to talk about dreams. As the world around us transforms, can our dreams survive?
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M2: (clip from Dianna David TED Talk) Ever since I was little, I loved and was so fascinated by how things moved, with objects.
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F3: Machines and even the human body. I guess that's why I danced so much.
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M2: You see, I grew up always dancing. Oh yeah. Oh MC Hammer, you know that one. But my dad said, that is a hobby, you need to get a career. So I became a mechanical engineer, not electrical. It's about the same thing. You see, I thought my parents wanted me to get a job. I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta.
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F2: Woo Edmonton, wait for the story.
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M2: I grew up in a very traditional Filipino upbringing where their definition of success was to get a good education, stable job, and raise a family.
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M1: So I pursued that.
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M2: So after high school, I got a degree and then I flew off to San Francisco for my first job as a mechanical engineer. “Yeah I'll be right there.” OK, degree check. Career check. 401k check.
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F3: Proud parents, double check. But after four years I started to get the itch. I don't know if you felt this before.
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M2: But it's that feeling in the pit of your, in the pit of your stomach, where you know you're just not meant to be there. Well, that feeling started to go for days; then it lasted for weeks and then months. Is this it? Is this what I was going to do for the rest of my life? Analyzing heating and ventilation systems for commercial buildings and high-rise apartments?
00:02:41;27 - 00:06:03;02
M4: That clip was from a TED talk by Dianna David, a movement storyteller who very accurately and eloquently captured the feeling of being stuck in a career that you're not passionate about. I know that feeling all too well.
I've always been a writer. I wrote short stories and series to share with my friends in middle school. I've written my own songs since I was 10 years old. I've always had a special relationship with words. In high school, I penned an op-ed about George W. Bush for the Pensacola News Journal, the most widely circulated newspaper in my rinky dink part of the Florida Panhandle. I went on to write for other newspapers and magazines over the next few years. By the time I graduated college at 20, I felt like a veteran. I still loved writing but I didn't love the news. So I worked in retail, first as a cashier and sales associate, then as a manager. The money was great. I met amazing people, some of whom are still my friends today. I learned a lot about myself, about the ways people operate and communicate. I developed a great appreciation for everyone who works in service in any capacity. But my passion for the field never developed.
The longer I stayed in the retail biz, the grumpier I became. Fast forward 11 years and I finally realized I needed to quit. I started my own blog, and after getting fired from a retail job with a cool young startup, I took the leap. I signed up on freelance platforms like Fiverr and Upwork and Remote because I thought this was the only way I could break into the business without any relevant clips from the last decade. And without any industry contacts. To my surprise, I was able to book work and generate considerable income pretty quickly. When I say a considerable income, I mean enough to keep the lights on and buy groceries and do little else. But in the back of my mind, even as my business grew, I thought to myself, “this isn't a legit writing career”.
Even as technology has advanced and evolved and people have gravitated towards tablets and e-books there's still this old school dream. This one definition of what it means to be a real writer. You need to get your book published the traditional way, by a publishing house like Simon and Schuster or Penguin. Then it needs to become a bestseller, and in your free time, you need to get a short story or piece of investigative journalism published in The New Yorker. And of course, you must do all of this while living in New York, preferably Manhattan. So far, I can check one of those boxes and it's not The New Yorker or the bestseller.
All throughout the last year and the beginning of this one, I thought about my transition. When will I hunker down and become the real writer I'm supposed to be? Can I book work on Fiverr and be considered a real writer? I need to get published in a notable magazine. Just last week, I had coffee with a friend who's releasing a book next month. She has a book deal. She has a publisher. To me, she's as legit as you can be. She's even been published in The Atlantic and Consumer Reports and a few other notable publications. But I was dismayed to hear that some of the publications she's written for, that have an audience of millions, have paid her less than I've made from work on Fiverr. Mind blown. Here I was, thinking that at some point, I needed to abandon the freelance markets to be taken seriously when in reality, I've been forging a new path that's just as legit as any other. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, even though the dream might stay the same, the methods to achieve it can change. I need to be more open -minded about how I'm working toward my objectives. By all means, I am a real writer. I get paid to create stuff for other people. It doesn't get any realer than that.
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M6: It's a new year and this is a new podcast. Thus, I need new sponsors. If you like what you hear and you're interested in helping make the show bigger and better, let's talk. Shoot me an email at Jefferey at uptownbourgeois.com. That's J E F F E R E Y at uptownbourgeois dot com.
00:06:30;06 - 00:08:10;05
M4: One little sub dream I had within my bigger writer dream was to work for GQ. I've read the magazine since high school. I've always loved the balance between celebrity profiles, fashion editorials, and in-depth reporting. I just knew that one day, I'd call that magazine my professional home. I had three close calls when I was still new to New York City. Working as a supervisor at Banana Republic, a photographer from GQ came into the store. She was looking for one of the sales associates whom she'd casted for an upcoming feature. She was picking guys off the street, interviewing them about their style, and then giving them a professional makeover in suits under five hundred dollars. She couldn't find the guy she was looking for so she snapped my photo and took down my info as a backup. I was never called.
After working at Banana for about two years, I knew I needed to quit and I thought temping would be my way out. But I didn't quit and instead enrolled with a temp agency hoping that I'd somehow be available when a great opportunity came up. One day after work, I checked my phone and saw a missed call from the agency. There was a temp role at GQ and they needed someone tomorrow. I called back immediately but they'd already found someone.
The third time, I had an inside contact at the magazine. They got me an interview with the publisher to be her assistant. I couldn't believe that I was actually inside of GQ ‘s offices, the place I knew I'd call my professional home one day. I felt confident about the interview. I'd worn a great outfit, presented well, but I never heard back.
All that time I'd had a dream to work for one of my favorite magazines yet that dream never seemed too align with my life. I initially thought that dream was dead but maybe it's just changing. Maybe there will be another magazine or a different capacity in which to work with GQ. As far as I'm concerned the door is still open.
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F4: It takes a lot more than three times to scare me away.
Before I go, I want to read a passage from my favorite read of the week. It's by Anna Silman at The Cut. The piece is titled “Aziz Ansari, Cat Person, and the #Metoo Backlash”. In the piece, Silman argues that the #metoo movement now begs for nuance but everyone seems to be hell bent on choosing sides. To give background, last weekend, upstart feminist website babe published a firsthand account from a 23-year-old woman named Grace, who recalled an episode of sexual misconduct while on a date with Aziz Ansari. The description of the date involves a lot of aggressiveness from Ansari and Grace speaks about her level of discomfort with speaking up to rebuff his come-ons. There has been a huge debate about whether this qualifies as sexual misconduct and whether Ansari should be lumped into the same category with other men who have done far worse things. It's a powerful and complicated conversation with no right or wrong answer but it seems those involved in the conversation want a right or wrong answer, to which Silman responds, quote Why can't this torching be the thing that leads to us all thinking a little bit harder about what an equal sexual playing field will look like? That seems to be exactly what is happening. By talking about these stories, women are making that push happen instead of thinking of stories like these as destroying a man's life. Let's think of them as sparks that ignite a necessary conversation for both the women that think, “I've been there” and the men who look back on their past behavior and feel surprised and concerned that everything wasn't really okay all along. End quote. If you have a chance to read it, it's a wonderful essay. I've shared it on Twitter this week and it's in my newsletter if you’ve subscribed.
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F1: Thanks so much for listening to the Uptown Bourgeois podcast. Once again, check back for new episodes every week and subscribe on iTunes or SoundCloud so you never miss out. If you love it, share it with your friends. If not, shoot me an email, and let me know what you'd like me to talk about instead. Until next week.
This podcast was transcribed using Simon Says.