I wrote about my experience of moving to San Francisco after college to pursue a writing career and then winding up at a tech company because I ran out of money. It’s getting trolled pretty hard, and normally I would just roll my eyes. But it seems a lot of people think that my definition of “hustling” means I’m pro-gentrification, as well as some cutthroat bitch who thinks all art should be made for commercial purposes only, which is so far from the truth that I feel compelled to pull back the curtain a bit and address some of the negative comments.
First, I should clarify that I absolutely do not think I have more of a right to live in San Francisco than anyone else. It’s tragic that people who have lived here long before me and have worked a lot harder than me can’t afford to stay here any longer. The fact that you can’t be something like a social worker and also live comfortably in this city is disgusting.
The social injustices and the economic disparities of San Francisco are so vast and complicated. There was no way I could have adequately or appropriately discussed any of these issues in a 1,500-word essay that’s illustrated with super cute designs. So I didn’t.
Instead, I wrote a personal narrative speaking specifically about the people in my “tribe”: the under-30 creative kids who moved to the city after college, like I did, with the puerile expectation that the “starving artist” life will be romantic and also somehow affordable, like I did.
Okay, so here comes the part where some people are going to penalize me for sounding probably very smug: I think those people, who came to San Francisco to make art and didn’t figure out that they can’t live this idle existence, floating around and leisurely making things with no real focus, and then have the audacity to be mad about rent prices, should leave. I’m sorry, but I think the space those people take up should be filled with someone who is willing to work just a little bit harder (and be a little less of an asshole).
When I ran out of money, I didn’t get mad. This city is really expensive! And when I realized I couldn’t live here and just dick around, writing in my journal and for free on other people’s blogs, it was truthfully a rude awakening. I had to decide if I needed to move somewhere else, or if I wanted to see if I could make it work in SF. I really wanted to stay in the city, so thus began my hustling.
I managed to get hired as an editor/copywriter at one of the better SF startups. Not my dream job, but I turned it into something that’s as close to my dream job as I can make it. Turns out it’s fun, and it’s also helped me improve my writing skills as well as figure out what kind of career I really want and what kind of person I want to be. Some people call this being a sellout, but I don’t agree. Yelp has a lot of integrity and fully supports me in my freelance endeavors. I’m proud of the work I do for them. I’m also happy because now I’m able to write things that don’t make me any money without having to worry about my rent.
I don’t think my job/situation makes me “better” than any of my peers. But because I realized how relatively easy it is to find work that’s fulfilling (be it at a startup or somewhere else), I also have zero patience for wannabe creatives who endlessly complain that they are so unhappy they can’t figure it out.
I’m not sure if this attitude is a “my generation” thing, a San Francisco tech culture thing, or both. Regardless, I’m not the only one who openly finds entitled, self-deprecating people to be totally exasperating, so I’m a little confused as to why I’m being dismissed as a brat on TBI.
Maybe I’m a little insensitive towards my peers’ struggles, but it’s because I’ve never been handed anything – even though I’m white and thus inherently privileged, as so many commenters pointed out. On the contrary, my upbringing really set me up to fail at life, so I’m really proud I’ve been able to pull myself up from the depths of shit that rained on me for so many years. And I have no qualms letting everyone know I’m really proud of myself, which some may call smugness, but quite frankly, I don’t care. I feel empowered by my sense of self-satisfaction.
All that said, I acknowledge that luck has also been on my side these last few years. There are countless people who do everything right and are still priced out of the city. That fucking sucks. In fact, I’m one of them now: my boyfriend and I are moving to Oakland in hopefully the next week because we can no longer afford our SF apartment. (“Good riddance!” said everyone unoriginally in the comments.)
So. Anyway. It’s typically unwise to respond to haters publicly, but I was so bothered by the implications that I’m classist and racist, like I high-five a Mitt Romney poster on my bedroom door every morning or something. I guess first and foremost, I’m just anti-laziness. Is there an -ist word we can assign to that?