#66: If you don't have to work, should you?

Plus bisexual men, how I style my hair, and asking your friends for money.

I dropped out of college to pursue a self-taught art education.

It's been a year, and I haven't had any financial success, but I'm the happiest I've ever been in life. I get a lot of flak for the decision I made, but my mom's fine with housing me and I apply myself to my work, so I don't really understand people's problem with my lifestyle. Thoughts?

Unless you’re asking for their time or money in a way that feels unfair (there are myriad permutations of this, so use your best judgment here), the people who have a problem with you are just using you as a canvas to work out some other frustration. It’s about you, but it’s not really about you.

I obviously can’t tell you with any measure of certainty whether you’re doing something that’s authentically annoying, because I’m not sure how you’re communicating your lifestyle to other people. I’ll give you benefit of the doubt though and assume that it’s one of these things where if it comes up it comes up, and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It is what it is, and you’re neither flaunting it nor minimizing it, just being honest.

As you probably already know though, being able to drop out of college to pursue something in the arts is a choice that most people, perhaps including many of the people you’re interacting with and who are criticizing you, don’t have the luxury of making, even if they’d like to. So a big part of the reaction you’re getting is envy.

It might be masquerading as something else, like “I was taught I have to work for a living,” or some kind of generic aversion to a more bohemian lifestyle, but it’s envy. If it was really about something else, unless you were some kind of nuisance, they wouldn’t care. They might snicker behind your back, but “being an artist” isn’t one of these things that scandalizes people to the extent that they’d regularly give someone a hard time about it.

A surefire way to piss off even the most well-adjusted person is to do something they’ve always wanted to do but weren’t able to for whatever reason, and at a relatively low cost. There is probably a subconscious fear that you may be successful, and if not, perhaps your lack of visible success is understood as some kind of punishment, a cosmic balancing. Justice. It’s messed up and again, I’d guess not a conscious thing, but I suspect that there’s some drive to see people who make certain choices fail. This is the way things should be, and you’re learning the hard way.

If you’re doing the work and using your time wisely, developing your craft and networking, this freedom is a blessing. As someone with an arts background myself though, I will add this: I’ve seen way too many people go down this path and not have a back-up plan. I wouldn’t recommend filling your plate too much or learning an additional skill at the expense of your art, but definitely make sure you’re in a position to pursue more traditional work if you have to. And something you’d be okay doing and is realistic, too. I have too many friends who either said, “I’ll just be a server,” and feel humiliated working in the service industry in their late 20s and beyond, or “I’ll just be a teacher/writer/bookseller,” only to find these jobs are few and far between or don’t pay particularly well.

You might have family money, but in the event that you don’t, keep it in mind. Again, it doesn’t have to replace or overshadow your arts career, but get it on your radar sooner rather than later. Hopefully, you sell a bunch of NFTs and never have to work for someone again. But you never know.

In my experience, women seem to be repulsed by the idea of dating bisexual men. Do you think that's true and if so why?

I definitely buy there’s prejudice against bisexual men. I think it comes from two places: first, I think there’s this idea that bisexuality isn’t a real orientation. Most people believe in hetero or homoflexibility, but I think even the most progressive people are inherently suspicious of bisexuality.

I also think it might be a holdover from ‘80s and ‘90s AIDS-fear-induced homophobia. There may be other reasons too, such as a subconscious fear gay men are less masculine. It sucks, and I’m not sure there’s a clear solution either, because it’s a social, rather than individual, issue.

Hey (non English speaker here), so I found your account and it helped me a lot, especially that I’m a little bit afraid of talking publicly about my thoughts. So keep the hard work.

I have a simple question, why people would want to go to the other side of the spectrum to defend something, like if you don't agree with some feminist why be misogynistic?

In this place, we here need feminism to help women and girls get their education and stay safe from rape/abuse. We are still fighting, so it's scary when people hate on a movement.

I hear you—it’s tough.

I think anti-feminists take feminism for granted, and either don’t know or forget that a lot of the ideas they’re rallying against originally served the crucial purpose of protecting women from abuse, and were only later corrupted by opportunists. My M.O. is to remind people that usually it’s some aspect of capitalism that upsets them, not feminism.

Much of second, third, and fourth wave feminism is an overcorrection though, just like the misogyny you see on Twitter (I call it utopian sexism) is an overcorrection. People often don’t realize they’re reacting, even in hindsight.

It’s just too easy to think in absolutes.

Advice on getting over burnout?

Burn out usually happens when your ROI is low, in my opinion. Make sure you know why you’re doing something, what you’re getting out of it (in concrete terms), and take frequent breaks. My sense is the former is a lot more important than the latter. It can be hard to do something you don’t genuinely enjoy without a destination.

Is how we look affected by how we feel?

To some extent, but I also believe some people are just ugly, and we have very poor mechanisms for helping those people feel better.

Happiness definitely impacts your facial expressions and micro-expressions though, it also affects your willingness to groom yourself. But no, I’m not too firm of a believer that you can will yourself into beauty via confidence. If only that were true!

May the ugly, the average, and the frumpy unite and own that God has other plans for us.

Do I deserve to ask people to pay me in exchange for doing something for them?

Maybe. Let them know first though. Depends on what it is!

How do I get my bangs to look as good as yours?

Thank you! I’m kind of ignorant of hair products and how to use them, but I’ve noticed that blow drying them after showering makes a big difference. I also make sure not to condition them, ever.


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