When I used to dabble in stand-up comedy, I was working as a legal assistant at a telecommunications law firm in Washington, D.C. I was in my mid-20s and clearly blown away by the fact that I got a whole desk and a bunch of healthcare. Unrelated, every year the firm threw a fancy holiday party and at one of them I got very drunk and told Antonin Scalia that he should quit while he was behind. To this day I'm not sure how I didn't get fired, but I digress.
All this to say, the open mics I did after work provided a much-needed creative outlet for me. When I left for a more artsy day job, I found that I was interested in stand-up less because that part of my brain was active at work. I'm not sure everyone is like this, but it's something to think about. Perhaps the Gen Z musician who took to Instagram in order to beg folks to stream her music, because a 9 to 5 job was simply unacceptable, would also benefit from a mentally boring job.
No one has died from not being creative 24 hours a day.
One of the few good things about Zoe Wynn's diatribe about not being able to work a 9 to 5 job is her ability to recognize that it's a spoiled stance. Unfortunately, that doesn't really absolve her of the sin of declaring she is physically incapable of working.
I know everyone is different, but I do want to take a moment to shout out a very good friend of mine who has a disability. Her grown-up job is librarian, which is one of the coolest jobs a person can have. She frequently helps plan events at her library, and these events are objectively rad. Outside of that library life, she is a stand-up comic. She manages to do all this and live with a disability.
Knowing there are people like that in the world makes me feel extra annoyed at Zoe, who appears to be able-bodied. Zoe claims that she is "physically unable" to work a 9 to 5 job and yet I know people with far less mobility than her who work and create. I'm not sure Zoe knows what physically means.
To be clear, I believe the 9 to 5 model no longer works. According to Forbes, Henry Ford created the 9 to 5 workday to "serve the needs of business titans who ran manufacturing plants that relied upon lots of people standing on assembly lines." Not only are most people not standing on assembly lines, but we also have the ability to tailor our schedules based on our needs.
I don't want to get too in the weeds about the 9 to 5 part because that's not what upset Zoe. She is not ranting and raving about the treatment of workers and how these hours can lead to feeling burned out. Zoe is more concerned about keeping creativity in her daily life.
"I start to cry if I have more than like three non-creative tasks to do in a day," she says. Surely that can't be right. Am I to believe Zoe is turning things like brushing her teeth, eating food, and pumping gas into art projects every time she has to do them? Also, to say that doing a non-creative task would make you cry actually speaks to her lack of creativity. You see, anything can be fun if you know how to inject some soul into it.
I run the risk of sounding like someone who thinks other people should suffer because I have suffered, and that's not it. My point is, you can be creative and have a job until hopefully your job becomes being a creative. Zoe, however, is refusing to work which comes from a place of privilege.
Only someone who can afford not to work can shun the idea of employment entirely. To be able to hone one's craft without worrying about your financial status is a gift. I really do hope she rounds third and heads straight to a record deal, but if she doesn't, are we to understand she'll never learn about time management and how one can work and create?
The comments section of Zoe's Instagram post echo my feelings, though some are less kind. More than one person pointed out the privilege here. Something I find curious is Zoe's selective work ethic. She's willing to do anything it takes to make music for a living, unless that thing makes her uncomfortable. So not "anything" then.