Sunday, September 14, 2008

On Sale: Authenticity

A few days ago, my Feminist Top Ten list was posted on Fidelia's Sisters, a publication of the Young Clergy Women's Project. I just re-read it, and in light of what's going on in my life the last month or so, came to a big realization about myself: I just cannot live as a fake.

My number one reason to not hide my "crazy feminism" was that I believe in living authentically. Which I do. But most days, I just don't see that play out much. And really, what I realized tonight is that I don't just believe in living authentically, I actually find it pretty much impossible to try and be someone or something I'm not.

Yesterday I gave my two-weeks' notice at my part-time job. I've had the job for just about a month. It's in retail, and offers correspondingly low pay, but the employee discount is great and I told myself I'd be able to get some good, professional, "ministerial-chic" clothes while earning enough to pay bills while I'm searching for a church.

I considered, while putting in applications at the mall, just how much I've come to dislike malls--and all that they represent--in the past couple years. I can handle them in short doses, am not opposed to them, and yes, sometimes even enjoying shopping in them. That being said, in the last couple years I have become much more anti-consumerist, for many reasons: the environment, financial aspects, immoral production practices, loving things more than loving life, etc. I even committed to the Compact for a few months.

I figured it wouldn't be that bad, only a few months, and it'd take no energy away from what I really need to do, which is finishing my ministerial profile and finding a real job.

I was wrong.

The store for which I work is more into selling than some others I've experienced. No one gets commission, but there is always a push to get a customer to buy more more more. And always, there's the push to open the store credit card. We hadn't opened any in a few days this week, and our managers were not happy. I was being bribed with free candles and free coffee if I got someone to open a card. We're even being threatened with being "written up" if not every single associate got a card.

I started getting a sour feeling in my stomach every time I thought about going to work. Not only was I pushing consumerism on others, but it was rubbing off on me! I think I've already spent my earnings, even with my discount (although the well-fitting suit was definitely needed), and was beginning to covet various items in the store, many that I can't afford, all of which I don't need!

I finally came to the conclusion that I couldn't do it anymore. I just couldn't work in a place that went so much against my values. Now, to be honest, I also decided that they weren't paying me enough to make it ok, and I think I should do a little reflection on how much I believe living authentically is worth.

So, before the month is over I'll again be unemployed. I'm going to really push myself to get my profile done, and probably look for another part-time job, as well as try to get some odd jobs like babysitting and editing. Hey, maybe I'll try for some writing gigs as well.

I'm not too worried though, because I know that as crazy as some people might think I am for doing this, and as stressed as being broke might make me in the coming weeks, I know that I am not compromising my values, my truth. I am not just believing in living authentically, I am living authentically.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for letting us publish your fabulous Feminist Top Ten - and for continuing to reflect so thoughtfully on what it means to live authentically.