This story is over 5 years old.

Girls and Work

Listen up, Teen Girl Squad. Avoid having a job for as long as possible, because once you get jumped into work culture you're preeetty much in for life.
Κείμενο Kate Carraway

Listen up, Teen Girl Squad. Avoid having a job as long as you can. Actually, summer jobs that aren’t in malls are fun. I recommend the kind where you take children swimming and have cute neighborhood skaters as your “leaders in training.” Maybe drive them home after. Anyway, try to live without money or off your parents until you get too old (25 is too old). Until then, stack up those internships and unemployed couch days and vague, unrolling maybe-ideas as long as you can, because once you get jumped into work culture you’re preeetty much in for life, and either you’ll appreciate work and understand it as one of the two things that matters (Guess the other one!), or you’ll baby-la-la your way out of it because you hate capitalism (valid), waking up (valid), or trying (you’re the worst).


This goes first because mine just fucked up this dream I was having where Hugh Laurie was my boyfriend, but instead of being an actor on House he was an aging punker with a lot of political opinions and, my favorite, wore a leather jacket over nothing to stay cozy in the morning. We were on some kind of road trip and I was avoiding him a little bit, but I don’t know why because I had to wake up before I found out, and I had to wake up to write this so I’m mad at you. Because it was almost a sex dream I felt kind of sick-filthy while I was making coffee in my jammies a second ago, too.


The reason nobody talks about work very much, outside of khaki-pantsed normie culture, is because it’s both boringly literal and vulnerable-making. Girls especially aren’t in the habit of acknowledging their own ambition and interests. Bummed out on this, but also kind of done with how girls accept and repeat these various ways to be self-shitty. Do whatever you want. I don’t care.


Suwpwise! Fun jobs are not actually fun. I mean, they’re supes fun if you are cool with the actual “fun” part being carefully extracted with fertility science and stored in a deep freeze so you get one drop of fun once a week and then a surrounding goo pocket of stress and pressure. This is fine with me because I played Office and Boss for laughs as a wiener dog (that’s my new code name for “kid”) and because the businessy and entrepreneurial aspects of creative work (we call this “hustle” and when you’re doing it right it makes you high, and taller) is the right thing for someone who is still spazzing about having dropped out of high school and university thrice but also having high grades. You know? Anyway the only two fun jobs I can think of are celebrity stylist and assassin. I make my parents tell their friends I’m a nurse.


Fucking disgusting. Never do this. Never.


If you need an example of how bad it is to be very smart, think about your top-three most clever, intelligent guy friends: two of them are burnouts, right? All tucked in with their Nietzsche that has 10-year-old pencil underlines and margin notes (not even a cliché; they have this), all emotionally paralyzed from never having to work at and therefore never failing at a-n-y-thing, all content to smug around at parties and then wake up on Monday morning to a phantom no-signal buzzing that will get louder and louder until the next Friday night when they can engage in their weekly intellectual joust (parties are sex for straight fags) and feel triumphant for a cruel minute.

Anyway, all of that sucks and is the most significant social tragedy that I feel eternally lucky not to be a part of, because smart girls seem to avoid all that and just go fucking crazy all at once. Working at something tricky until you’ve exhausted the part of yourself that thinks it is important and knows anything is basically the same principle as being straight edge, or in the army.


There is no real mediation between being a girl who is wild and blue and can graze the sand with your hands for days and days and having a regular job. I have no answer to this and it makes me weep sometimes, as it should.


Pretty much the only place where it’s allowed to be hateful toward other girls is during an internship, where they are definitively your competition.

Before I did an internship I earnestly told my dad I was going to “win” it, which is a really retardogay thing to say to your father when you’re also done with school and clearly having a lot of gross sex on surfaces in his home, but I moved into my sister’s basement, rode a bus four hours a day, went in twice as often as I was supposed to, was not sucky, and then basically moved in with one of my cool girl bosses. I won. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose. Oh sorry, is that embarrassing? Eat a dick, I guess.


Work is like school in that you can do whatever you want if you do it properly, by which I mean nobody cares if you are drunk or high most of the time if you don’t act like it. (Don’t get into benzos, though, because they will sizzle through your brainware like a booze-cruise hangover you didn’t know was coming.)


Don’t you remember that bizarre Le Tigre era about hating your job? That was to remind you to quit if you have a shitty, paternalistic boss. Having a good boss, though, is like a whole other daddy.


Doing something means sucking at it so much of the time and in some cases being caught out which is embarrassing and discouraging but absolutely necessary. Expecting and being prepared for failure is very much a part of success, of work, of being a non-child. Get so zen with this as soon as possible.


For a month after I quit my first job I lived in a car, wore jammies as t-shirts every day, kept my golf clubs in the backseat, and sometimes rode my bike around in the daytimes just to meet up with other buddies who had literally nothing to do. This was before the recession so it was like the best fever ever.


Five years of lost sleep, toast-dinner, and social alienation were all worth it that time I got to make out with an important stranger in a car that a movie studio paid for. That’s what us working girls call YAHTZEE.


OK this is the reason for all of it, especially when you are facedown in the shallows of everything that is truly hard about working: pencil skirts, guy. Putting on work drag in the morning, or afternoon if it’s a really, truly, really hard one, reinstates one’s purpose, especially if you get going on that good red lipstick.


Having a meal or a coffee with your work friends and chitter-chattering about work stuff and then running back to “the office” in your high-heels but not spilling any coffee at all because you are on a marshmallow cloud of adult accomplishment is usually the highlight of my day even if there is a gala celebrating my life and times after work where I am dressed by Dior and escorted by Dream Hugh Laurie. Basically what you need to know is that I’m allowed to work from home, from bed, from my dreams, but I go into an office in a brutalist office tower to be officey almost every day.


When you’ve worked for long enough that you and your various human functions are an intricately connected automata, you’ll start to think about not working, sometime. My ultimate ambition is to get really good, like, be the ubermensch of my own potential, and then instead of riding it out until I’m near death, just quit. One of my big sissies is a small-town housewife (technically; in reality, she is a too-intensely-charismatic She-Ra who holds all the world’s secrets) and one of my sisters is a suit-wearing executive babe-a-tron who is also soooo nice. They both have three kids each and matching jungle truck SUVs but have very different daytimes. In 1500 years when I am as old as them (HA, HA) I plan to go the third way and have kids and wear long dresses and take them to some vaguely threatening forest, to a damp patch of pine needles (I’m from Canada) where I’ll tell them stories and only let them play with a wagon, wood blocks, and “found toys.” Seriously, if I can quit working entirely and forever in about a decade and recreate all my adolescent Victorian fantasies I’ll be doing a celebratory gong every morning.


This will definitely happen at some point, but in my experience even the behavior that goes down in the corporatest of offices by dummy suits who you’re smarter than is nothing compared to the tides of sexual rage acted out upon you in cool boy-girl social circles.


Judging by the absolutely retahded amount of email you terdlettes send me when I’m trying to lie on the couch quietly, it’s fair to say that you should locate some worthwhile and real life work mentors of some variety. Girls look up to men a lot; there is some statistic I refuse to find that says women usually pair up with male bosses instead of women, because of competition and sex and other truisms that are too boring to repeat; do whatever you want but maybe consider taking the badly styled VP of your company out for lunch because she might end up shotgunning her decades of experience into your mouth. That’s just how it works.


I don’t know about this job. You have to stand up all day and help people who are contemptuous and rude and you don’t get tips. I guess I’ve seen lots of girls bopping around in the back room, which looks pretty fun but you still have a manager, right? Also based on my shows it seems like there are higher emotional stakes in a clothes store in Calabasas than on Wall Street.


The best TV shows are about women doing hard jobs: Downton Abbey, Homeland, The Good Wife, Grey’s Anatomy (shhhhhhhooooosh), Kourtney and Kim Take New York (???),  What does it mean? I have theories.

Previously - Girls and Being Alone

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarraway