On Twitter recently, there was a #FuckPlanB hashtag. It’s been interesting watching people on my and my friends’ Twitter feeds weigh in, especially since the issue is one that seems to have divided a number of the artists and performers I look up to.
I’ve come out on the side where I support #FuckPlanB. @bethofalltrades (Beth Hommel) wrote a blog post about how people who don’t have a support system can’t afford to Fuck Plan B, but I have to disagree on some points. I don’t have a trust fund, parents who can support me, or even money in my savings account. I DO use my giant water jug full of change as a financial backup plan when I have to. Yet I don’t have a Plan B; I’m never going to be able to fall back on my career as a doctor or zoologist to support myself if my whole dream of being a writer/ intellectual never takes off. In fact, I’ve been going to college on and off for eleven years now, struggling to realize my dreams. At times I was days or even hours away from having everything fall down around me, but I never gave up on my Plan A, and I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can breathe a little and believe that I’m going to make it.
Through all of this, I’ve had full and part time jobs to support the trajectory I want my life to go in. I wrote for the St. Petersburg Times while I worked at a dead-end job at a start-up website that sells travel videos. As I write this, I’m on my lunch break at a charity I work for to pay the rent when money from writing and teaching writing aren’t enough to get by on. I’m going for my master’s and will probably end up as a faculty member of a university or college in the next few years instead of living off of those fat writers’ paychecks we all know are flooding the publishing industry. But, none of these are a Plan B. They are just realistic steps I’m taking towards achieving my Plan A.
I did not take #FuckPlanB as a way for people on the verge of losing it all for their dreams to skirt responsibility or as a way of sticking it to the people who can’t afford to spend 40 hours a week just working on their art. Growing up, I was told that my Plan A wasn’t good enough. I was told to go into a number of career fields where I would have been miserable, and I probably would have ended up just another laid off worker suffering from the recession if I had taken that advice. In fact, I was told by a number of people that I shouldn’t even work on my Plan A part time, because there was no point. Instead I’m living my Plan A, which right now consists of being a writer in New Orleans. If working in an office 30 hours a week helps me achieve my goal, then it’s part of Plan A. If reading some of the best Western literature in history and reading over student essays to figure out how to improve their writing (which I believe also improves mine, thanks to the critical thinking involved) helps me stay afloat while I work on Plan A, then this is also part of the process, not a Plan B.
I’m not rich, and I’m still working towards making myself financially stable, but I’m happy. That’s what’s important. And, knowing that I’m still working towards my Plan A has added to my level of fulfillment over the years.
Last night, I went to see Jason Webley live in New Orleans. This wouldn’t have been possible if I had given up on my Plan A. Jason Webley is up there in my list of favorite musical artists, because he makes his shows fun. He projects an exuberance that is inspirational and infectious. I’m not going to knock people who decide to live their lives on a more stable path, but I like to think that last night I was at the exact place and moment I was supposed to be in, thanks to my Plan A.