Hello. My name is Lisa and I am a slash-y. That’s right. I belong to the growing tribe of people in this city whose career definitions involve a backslash. Like the model/musician/soap-maker/blogger or the Etsy shop owner/crystal purveyor/woodworker or even the ballet dancer/waitress/documentary film-maker/bathtub whisky distiller… It’s ridiculous, right?
But here I am. Hanging with all the rest as a florist/copywriter/beauty writer. I should have known I was going to end up this way. In college, I couldn’t make up my mind about my major because I felt like I might be missing out on something, so I cobbled together a Frankenstein of a focus, majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Mass Communication and Creative Writing and a minor in English Literature. I mean…
The problem with being a slash-y is that people assume (or maybe I’m projecting) you’re half-assing it on a bunch of things instead of pouring all your focus into one thing and doing it really well.
That it’s a reflection of indecision and fear of commitment. And that might be true for some. But there’s also something about this city—and maybe our generation—that seems to cultivate this lifestyle.
Although my major looked like a hodge-podge on paper I was hyper-focused on making it as a writer. I had always had a deep, abiding love for words and stories and was a voracious reader and so it seemed to me that my career path was a no-brainer. One thing to know about me: I am a tireless, Type A, people-pleasing, high-achieving perfectionist who, once she zones in on something will do everything in her control-freak power to obtain. It’s exhausting (and also not that effective). Anyway. My Type A self pursued writing in true checklist fashion. Undergrad degree: check. Masters in Journalism: check. Internship after internship after internship: check. I had no problem swallowing my pride with the end goal of success dangling like a carrot in my face.
I moved to New York City and started freelancing for the industry average of little-to-nothing and waited tables on the side. I relentlessly pursued it (I networked! I wrote for free! I pitched like a maniac!).
With no measurable progress and after a six-year pride-swallowing-backdoor-scratching-take-what-I-can-get-fest, I hit a wall and gave the fuck up.
I had really given it my all and pursued what I wanted to do and worked really hard at it and did everything I had been told I should do. And it wasn’t working. Then I did what every freelance writer does when they give up and decided I wanted to start my own blog—a wholly un-unique vision. I went ahead and dreamt real big, creating tabs that had tabs that had tabs, took meetings, drew and conceptualized the blog layout. I even set up a handful of photo shoots. The sheer scope of the imaginary blog that I had built in my mind would’ve taken 50 people to staff and when I realized that I sort of put the whole blog thing on the shelf, right under that big stack of Vogues I have and my copy of the Chicago Style Manual.
Then I fell into flowers. I had pitched a piece to New York Magazine’s The Cut on the now ubiquitous flower girl, who at the time, were suddenly everywhere—like the small batch home distiller or the rooftop gardener. I thought that this crew of effortlessly stylish beauty makers would be perfect for a running column called Style Tribes and we went and shot the ladies in their impossibly lush studios and I thought: Maybe I’ll try doing this.
It wasn’t an “aha” moment—there was no “This is what I’ve meant to do all along!”
It was just sort of a “I like flowers, they’re pretty, let’s give it a shot because I’m sure as shit not doing anything else right now.” So I did. And it went well. And love it. And as soon as flowers started gaining momentum, I fell into a great copywriting gig (for those of you who aren’t familiar, copywriting is the kind of writing that actually pays money). It was like that moment when you finally break up with a boyfriend and things are shit for months and month and suddenly, one day you start to feel better—you’re comfortable in your own skin, you haven’t thought about what’s-his-name in months and, BAM! he calls you. Honestly, I was happy to hear from him. Landing that copywriting gig meant that I could quit serving after an impressive 15-year tenure and finance flowers with copy. Which was great. But then I started to feel like a fake. My Instagram was strictly flowers and I felt like I was hiding the fact that I was moonlighting as a copywriter. That, plus I wasn’t really making any money and if I wasn’t really making any money doing flowers did that mean I was a fraud? And then my ego got involved and I started wishing for the bigger floral gigs even though I hadn’t made the moves and investments to back that sort of thing up. So many things.
The thing is, at this point I feel like I’ve made a little more peace with the fact that I do a little bit of both: that I’m a writer and a florist. Writing allows me to finance flowers, which is a complicated world in and of itself. Like anything else, it forces you to constantly reckon with how much you’re willing to invest and although my ego wants the recognition, I have to be reasonable and tell it that until it puts its time and money where its mouth is it’s just going to have to deal with feeling inadequate (I’m looking at you, Instagram).
So. From one slash-y to another: keep on keepin’ on.