Travis Indovina recently suggested I write about the balance between corporate working and personal passions, and how that affects me psychologically. I think anyone could relate to this struggle, especially those of you following Grim.
I started with the company I work for over twenty years ago, and for many, many years, my job/career defined who I was. I worked hard to get where I am, and it was/is worth it, but that does not mean there aren’t/weren’t sacrifices along the way. It has been an interesting journey finding the balance between ‘corporate’ working, what makes me tick, and navigating the mind fucks in between.
I have mentioned this before; very few people know about Grim Dystopian outside of the scene. I just do not find it necessary to discuss it with non-like-minded people because I find myself defending it, and frankly it pisses me off. There are two people that know about all this at work; one is my very best friend of twenty+ years, and a co-worker turned friend that I suspected would find the show and blog genuinely interesting (he is also in a band). I am close with the team I work with, many of them would be disappointed, perhaps angry, that they do not know about this part of my life.
Let me explain.
I made a very conscious, calculated decision to de-activate my personal social media accounts when Grim started. I very purposefully kept a ton of distance between work and the show, still do. I remember the day I made that decision. I had a heavy conference call day, and all in the same day, I listened as discussions were had about how tattooed people ‘look’ and how they are perceived, someone found it completely bizarre that someone was walking through the park in jeans and how that made them uncomfortable (opposed to workout attire), and someone singled me out for posting videos from a show the night before and how they are surprised I made it to the office.
All three of those subtle interactions left me feeling uncomfortable and judged. Why? First, I have countless tattoos and I do not have a friend that doesn’t (maybe one). Second, my husband is the ‘weird guy’ walking around the park in jeans. Lastly, please do not ever question how seriously I take my job. I am an adult, I can balance work and pleasure, even on school nights. Maybe, if they joked about it on the platform I posted video, I might feel differently.
Then I thought of the show; the style of music we play, the content we discuss. None of it is overly inappropriate, but inappropriate for the workplace. After all, I am in corporate America, which is not meant to be derogatory by any means, but it does have its own culture.
I mean, really, how do I explain that I am taking vacation time to go to Baltimore for MDF, or that I am going to Mass Destruction in Atlanta? I don’t – I usually keep it generic with my typical blanket statement, “Going to a heavy metal festival” (which still opens the door for questions).
How do I balance it? Not very effectively at first. For a long time, I would lay awake at night in fear and anxiety of what people would think of me if they ever heard the show. Sometimes I still do. That goes back to being uncomfortably me in an uncomfortable world.
We (more me than Ken) are very careful about what we say on the show; the content we discuss, the opinions we share, but that does not mean that someone wouldn’t and couldn’t find it offensive. That is the give and take of putting yourself out there. The risk we take. The risk you take, as a musician, writer, speaker, artist, comedian. Not everyone is going to agree, enjoy, and/or appreciate what we do and/or what we like. I am finally starting to learn that is perfectly okay.
I recently came across this meme, ‘Accidentally spent all my life making sure everyone around me feels comfortable, only to realize I never felt comfortable the whole time’. Is this where I am supposed to say that corny phrase… read that again…
As far as work goes, I do feel like I lost part of myself along the way. My personal social media accounts slowly became riddled with corporate co-workers, even bosses. I felt obligated to accept friend requests even though I felt like the two worlds should not collide (and that was before Grim was ever even considered). I started to feel like I had to be corporate Jenn all the time. I found the corporate world infiltrating my life and I started to suffocate.
I am lucky that I enjoy what I do at work, so I rarely feel robbed trying to pursue personal passions, besides wishing there were five more hours in a day to explore them. I have gotten better in the sense that I tend to give everything my all. Well, I just cannot do that, it is not sustainable. So, balance has been challenging for me to manage, but extremely rewarding. I spend my days dedicated to work, and I spend my evenings dedicated to the piano, the show, the blog, or, in rare instances, just fucking off.
The more we do the show, the more interactions we have, the more I blog, I feel empowered and comfortable, both professional and personally. Finally. It is not so much the writing that has helped me, it is sharing my experiences that has helped normalize how I see myself. Or, to rephrase, the experiences you have shared with me has helped me realize I am not that weird; we all have insecurities, hurdles, setback, pickups, pits, peaks, and most importantly stories to share that may just touch someone else.
I am sure I work amongst an eclectic group of individuals that enjoy things that are not necessarily work appropriate; at least I hope I do!
Thank you, Travis!