31 July 2013

36: The Grown-up Hustle

Speedboat and tuxedo... a powerful combo 
Last year at birthday time I was working in an office and living in London, England. A year later I'm a freelance writer, improviser and producer living in Amsterdam. A lot changed has changed for me during my 35th year.

And now I'm 36. A proper grown-up age. Closer to 40 than I've ever been before.

Yet, I don't have a lot of the markers that I expected I would have by now. Like a house. Or a car. Some kids. More than one suit. A little bit of financial security. There's a pretty long list of things I don't have. But the things I do have is also pretty long.

I was complaining about my cashflow issues the other day. And the guy I was speaking to said "Well, think about how much you have by not having a regular job. How much is that worth?"

And I thought about it. The answer is: a lot. The ability to be in charge of my own schedule, do my own thing and pursue my own projects is incredible. I love having this freedom.
The trade-off is I'm lacking the financial security to do things I want to do, like buy a speedboat or a tuxedo, or travel on a whim. And the flipside of all that freedom and pursuing of passions is that the line between work and play is really blurred.

I'm getting paid less often than before, working more and harder than ever, and never quite sure when I'm taking time off. I can write off almost every coffee that I buy, and every train that I take, but I'm never quite sure when I'm not working. So relaxing is, like money, a rare commodity in my life at the moment.

And I'm not taking any time off for my birthday. Quite the opposite: I've got a full day planned.

1. Meeting with a TV company about filming a thing. I'd just be a hired actor for a day's shoot. But still: exciting! If it pans out? That's a day's acting work. Acting work!

2. Taking a train to the south of Holland to meet with an HR executive about some ghost-writing I've been doing. More gainful employment that will hopefully become something regular. Writing work!

3. Return to Amsterdam, for Indonesian food with my wife.  We've never eaten Indonesian, which is a quite common food around here. (See: history for the reasons why). Tonight we get to try some. Culture and romance!

4. Afterwards, it's off to see Hans Klok at the Carre Theatre. There are lots of posters up around town for his show The New Houdini. Magic!

So yeah, that's busy, but arguably dinner and a show aren't work - though I may try and write them off anyway.

And then tomorrow, it's back to work again. Everything that's happening feels new and risky and exciting and full of promise. Even though there have been many highs and some low periods over the past year, my plan for 36 is to keep pushing.

Who knows what might happen? A lot can happen in a year.

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