The #myfirstsevenjobs thing is both intense and interesting. I’ve always worked the hell out of working since, well, where the fuck else was I gonna get money? I think the undercurrent of this meme is about realizing some of us had to work for survival somewhere along our first 7 jobs and some of us didn’t have the same edge to the labor. Class is definitely relational, and I think this meme is pushing experiences we might not relate to into a noticeable zone.
1) 10 – Working for my dad filing paperwork for his business. I mean it was unpaid and not optional but work for sure.
2) 11- Babysitting for the church $5/pop. excitedly opened my first savings account w this — I come by it honestly
3) 15 – Childcare, met the first feminist adult woman I ever knew
4) 15 – Kitchen worker in convent infirmary, met lesbians for the first time
5) 18 – Starbucks, made out w my babe gf in the storage room
6) 19 – Vintage store Sunday afternoon vintage girl
7) 20 – Cafe worker at the community college I attended
When I started working my parents were together and on an ongoing edge of bankruptcy. Soon single, my mom hustled housecleaning and childcare work and my shitty dad withheld child support to “show her” (cute look dude ftw I eventually disowned him back) once he made it out of financial turmoil. But I guess it made me, uh, stronger to need to have my own string of the million shitty underpaid jobs out there? Or something about the value of a dollar? Or my own fortitude? I think I just learned that the only way to guarantee myself food on the table is to get my own ass to work.
But – work isn’t itself an enemy activity. I’m really into applying myself to getting things done, I enjoy the accomplishment. I guess this meme is also about the variations in alienation and how cute/not cute each of our initial dives into post-industrial capitalism, with all the associated experiences and marginalities and privileges mixed in.
I know that watching a parent start a business was formative and showed me it could be done, and so I’ve been able to start and handle various freelancing and business ventures which has served me well both as an artist and a hustler-brained work-enjoying person. And watching another parent get and stay stuck in low-wage jobs is also formative and motivates the hell out of me to try to create a different reality for myself since I can see (and experienced) how freaking tough it is and how intense the work is. It let me say fuck it I’m gonna be a weirdo artist cuz I know how to live on very little (that was a rad decade in my life!), and it’s also motivated me to pursue a career that I’m interested in since seeing someone do a lifetime of work they don’t really like is a very stark picture of one aspect of labor.
There’s a lot of conversation in my social media feeds this week about this meme; and the way it’s bringing work, class, and money realities to the surface is important. Part of how classism works is to invisibilize and shame: I think that’s unhelpful at best and silencing at worst. No more should people who’ve had ease in life be made to feel awkward that their #firstseven were pocket money, than should people who #workedforfood be made to feel bad about it. Class is both something we come from (an experience we can’t control) as well as a moving target over the parts of our lives we do have more control over.
I hope this conversation continues: I’m doing my part by teaching Lets Talk About Money and Calm That Ack! personal finance classes, blogging here, and reminding you all to keep it intersectional and keep it kind.