Michella Rivera-Gravage is a film and interactive media producer that spends most of her time buying really awesome vintage shoes that go with vintage-inspired modern blouses. In her spare time she is producing the SAF Seeking Talk Show for the upcoming YOMYOMF Network on YouTube and trying to teach Beverly how to use Google+. She is a SAF seeking the kind of job fulfillment that only come with a leap of faith.
A few years back, I was telling a friend about a meeting I was having the next day and he asked if it was a pants or no-pants meeting. “What exactly do you think I do?,” I asked dryly. He chuckled back that since he works from home most of the time, when a meeting is called among his start-up co-workers it needs to be made clear whether the gathering is a web conference or in-person meeting. The former does not require pants but unfortunately the latter does. I thought that must be wonderful, to just hop on the computer and get to work without ever having to get dressed. It seemed like an exhilarating and untrammeled work life, and I was envious of it!
Now a few years later, I am transitioning from working fulltime at a media organization to working on my own projects, to pursue my own dream of the no-pants meeting and making art. Over the last couple of years, I have strongly felt the itch to strike out on my own, but I grew up in a single-parent immigrant household, where financial stability was always the goal. I have had a fulltime job since I was 18 and I have never been the type to couch surf and work in a cafe while I write my script or album. I have always known and admired folks who could do that but I did not understand how they could do it. Needless to say, even now the thought of giving up a steady paycheck for the tumultuous dance of the artist hustle is scary as hell to me. But I did it anyways.
I generally got over my fear of becoming homeless and started to get excited about the freedom of working from home. At first I thought, I can just arrange my schedule however I want to as long as I get 8 or 9 hours of work done. I can be with Tofu, my dog, all day! I can exercise at 11AM instead of 7AM before work! I can wear my PJs all day! I can take a dance break whenever the music moves me to do so! I don’t have to talk to anyone! Sweet Jesus, happiness has arrived. Or so I thought.
When everything became possible, I unraveled a little bit. I never realized how much I need the structure of a routine to keep me focused and motivated. Without a routine, I am an anxious amorphous critter trying to move in every direction at once and spinning my wheels. The structure I was so excited to be free from, is what I need desperately to stay on track. I need to get up early, do my morning exercise, get showered and dressed for work, even though I’m not leaving the house. I am working for myself but that does not mean I hang out in my chonies and just get to it when I get to it. I actually need the pants even though I am having no-pants meetings, because they are part of the getting-my-shit-together ritual needed for being the artist I want to be everyday.
I have my good and bad days, measured by how well I can quiet the negative chatter about what a mistake I have made (!) that floods my inner dialogue. Meditation helps with that. My partner has also been a champ, supporting me the whole way, making me put my pants on.