The Deal with Day Jobs

I have had sooo many day jobs. Wait, I feel I can make this more clear….I haven’t had sooo many day jobs….I’ve had SOOOOOO many day jobs ya’ll.

Retail, customer service, food industry, healthcare, talent agent, I could keep going…

Trying to balance a day job while managing a career in the arts is the perfect double edged sword.

Some creative jobs need you to be available in the day time, so then you’ll have to work at night. Some need you at night, so you have to work during the day – but I’ve always found that most creative careers need you to be free literally all the time. Even if you have been doing theatre at night, you can get cast in something that rehearses during the day. If you paint by day, all of a sudden your paintings are in a gallery and you have to be there at night for viewings. You’re in a band and trying to balance a schedule with four other people who all have different kinds of jobs to work around. What it comes down to is; there will always be conflicts.

This probably has held the most stress for me throughout my early twenties. It’s still a stress. Even without the scheduling issues, there are still a number of things about we look for in day jobs that make us looney…like…

  • Finding a job you like and can stand doing 40 hours a week.
  • An understanding boss who will be flexible.
  • Pays all of your bills + some for saving.
  • Doesn’t tire you out.
  • Has coworkers you enjoy.
  • Is close to home.

So after having many a day job in my life….and after making so many mistakes….here’s what I’d advise:

1. Be up front about your creative career.
This one is so tough. No one wants to walk into an interview and say “Hey I need to be available for auditions, practice, what have you, so I need to be able to swap shifts, take off certain days, or pop out for an hour here and there.” Trust me, I get it. It’s awkward and could very much guarantee that you don’t get the job. Here’s the thing though, it’s way better then a month later when you have something come up and you never warned your boss, so now they respect you even less, you’re stressed out of your mind and thinking you now need to quit. Be honest right off the bat. Think of it as you’re interviewing them as well for a job that fits your lifestyle. The past 2 jobs I’ve had I’ve been up front and honestly, they appreciate it. Maybe you won’t get that job, but that job isn’t for you anyways.

2. Really think it over before taking a promotion.
I’ve made this mistake. Taking a promotion sounds so lovely because they’re usually coming to you with dollar dollar bills ya’ll, but look, it’s going to be more work. It just is. You’re already at your wits end already trying to juggle a day job and a career, don’t put more on yourself if you’re not up for the task. It also means your boss will expect more from you, and you might not be able to put forth as much effort as you think. In my experience it has also taken away from my creativity. All of my stress was going towards my day job, when really I should be focusing on what I really want to make a career out of. I’ve found this has mostly happened with taking on a manger position. I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m just saying; think about it.

3. Make sure it’s something you can see yourself withstanding…
I know what you’re thinking: “Oh yeah Kelly, that’s super easy, thanks for the tip, jerk.” I know, I know. This is so hard. I’m not good at this one to be honest. I’ve worked so many jobs that wore me out, made me very unhappy and honestly hurt my soul, but that’s why I can talk about this. So often we are looking to lock down a job so quickly that we don’t take the time to really do our research, look deep within and say, hmm what would interest me? Something I learned is that I actually really like an office setting. Working at Starbucks wasn’t for me because it was a very active job and left me so tired, I had no time for creativity. Now that I’m at an office job I can think, okay – well what do I actually want to be doing at an office? Ask yourself every question you can think of about your interests and what your boundaries are. I hear people say “ugh well all day jobs suck, I’ll never find something I really like.” That’s bologne. They do exist, but you need to be willing to do the work.

4. Remember…it’s just a day job.
This is the hardest one for me. I’m a very passionate (sensitive) person. I throw myself hard into everything I do. I can get so stressed out if things aren’t going my way or the way I think they should go. I’ll admit it. I care. Honestly, I care too much and it’s not in a good way. It’s unhealthy and I often have to check in with myself and say…”girl…it’s JUST a job.” That’s to say…it’s not something I want long term so, why am I getting so bent out of shape about it? Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to care. Like I said above, you want to work somewhere that you like and can withstand, but please don’t put so much stress and energy into it, unless you really DO want to be there long term. Otherwise, it truly is a moot point. I’m working on this myself. It’s not easy, but once I do check in with myself, the clouds clear.

5. Find the motivation in it.
By this I mean…do the job for your career. Treat it as a stepping stone. Open up a savings account dedicated to your art whether that’s buying a new guitar, opening up a studio, publishing your first book, buying headshots, having the ability to take off 5 months for auditions, whatever! This will give you that kick in the ass to get to work. I’ve found this to be immensely helpful.

Well, those are my top tips. Not much to it really. I don’t think this pertains only to people who want a creative career. I think this can work for anyone who is looking for a career change and needs some time to mull it over, or any one who needs something temporary.

Job searching sucks, but once you find the right fit, you have every reason to be grateful. Every successful person I know, and many that I don’t, worked day jobs to help them to where they are. Embrace it. Learn from it. I’ve learned so much from every job I’ve had and I honestly have no regrets.

So, pull up your socks kids…and get to work.

Self care, self flare.



Published by Kelly Tietjen

Chicago gal offering my own take on self development, creativity, mental health and more.

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