Archive for August, 2017

My Former Daily Despair

Saturday, August 19th, 2017

With permission, we’re posting this essay by Sylvia Toy St. Louis, an artist in al lher ways who like many of us dealt with that dreaded dayjob.

MY FORMER DAILY DESPAIR Sylvia Toy St. Louis August 6, 2017

Yesterday, I told my husband something that I’d never told anyone before. I cried when I told him. I even felt a little ashamed because of a sense of failure.

I am one of those never-half-assed people, 100% effort natured people. We are the people who get on your nerves; whom you call too intense; whom you tell ‘you talk too much.’ We are the people who dig in no matter what.

There are very few things in life that I have ever wanted to do besides stay in my room and make art. But I am not one of the lucky people who got to do that. In fact, even if my parents had been wealthy enough for me never to have to do anything except stay in my room and make art, they would not have left me to unlimited, unsupervised solitude.

Last month I told a friend who’s a college professor that I probably would have been more engaged and fared better as a young person in the days of apprenticeship. I hated school. The best thing about getting a diploma or a college degree is not having to go to school anymore. The best thing about dayjob is not having to go to school anymore.

But yesterday I told my husband my secret. That is, every single day of dayjob, whether good job or bad job, at some point in my day (in bad jobs, all day), I experienced the soul-crushing disappointment that not even giving 200 or 300% was ever going to give me the comfort of satisfaction. In fact, ironically, considering that I’d usually rather be by myself, the only thing that made dayjob bearable was human interaction. This due, perhaps, to my not expecting much from most people and being almost immune to being disappointed by them.

But I have always expected and anticipated getting a lot back from my never-half-assed, 100% labor. And that for me in dayjob was like rowing a boat that always had a leak in it and would inevitably sink.

I read once that the most common characteristic of Americans is vulnerability to disappointment. We are optimistic and often unaware that we’re energetically rowing a leaky boat. What I am grateful for at this point is not that I don’t have to go to school or dayjob anymore, but that, apparently, in spite of my former daily despair, I am unsinkable.