Jennifer Dziura writes life coaching advice weekly here on TheGloss, and career coaching advice Fridays on TheGrindstone.
I’m enjoying the series by Cathryn Berarovich about being a prostitute
Sure, as forms of employment go, it’s a little … invasive. But most “regular jobs” are pretty invasive of your mental space. We’re always selling something, aren’t we? Isn’t your mind kind of more important than your body?
It’s a tough call.
For some years post-college and after the failure of my dotcom, I was a nude art model. I discuss it in my one-woman show, “What Philosophy Majors Do After College.” While being naked has its challenges (it’s drafty; cellphone cameras) and being still for 20+ minutes at a time also has its challenges (unscratchable itches; multiple limbs falling asleep at the same time), there’s something wonderful and comforting about a form of employment that takes up none of your mental space at all. You can think about anything you want and no one will interrupt you. You can plot and scheme without being expected to respond to your boss’s emails. You don’t have to solve anyone else’s problems. If you take your work home with you, it’s limited to, “This one guy drew me kind of fat, but then this one girl drew me with dragon wings.” Selling your body and keeping your mind for yourself isn’t a bad deal.
Of course, most of the time we have twenty minutes to think about whatever we want without interruptions, we just daydream, or we think about nothing, and lots of things; after, we can’t remember what we thought about. But sometimes, we have revelations, or we prepare for action.
What makes the difference?
In the last two months, I read two articles that struck me because each female protagonist revealed a life marked by extraordinary mental discipline. I first wrote about mental discipline in Bullish Life: Sometime It’s Best Just To Not Think About It and Bullish Life: The Things We Can’t Have Now.
“Nothing in life means much if your mental real estate isn’t your own. If you think you can’t control your thoughts, then you are at a serious disadvantage in every area of life. Every one. From running your career to remembering to exercise to not eating entire pints of ice cream and regretting it to not letting an insult, a catcall, or some downright bullying derail your entire day. I’m sure you’ve read somewhere about the marshmallow test; there is nothing more important than mental discipline. It makes you more money and gives you the ability not to do things you know will not be kind to your future self.”
You may also know that I have a little history with boxing (see Bullish Life: What I Learned From Being Captain of My College Debate and Boxing Teams).
Thus, I was doubly interested in this article in The Atlantic about Marlen Esparza, the first American female boxer to qualify for the London Olympics, where women’s boxing will make its debut as an Olympic sport. Here:
Unlike most of the other boxers participating in the trials, Esparza, who is from Houston, had declined the accommodations arranged for her by USA Boxing at the casino resort, and had chosen to stay at another hotel at her own expense. Esparza prepares for her matches psychologically as much as she does physically, and this means maintaining distance from her opponents before fights. “If we stay in the same place, that makes me feel like we’re equal, and I don’t want to feel equal,” Esparza told me. “I want to feel superior.”
I remember much the same feeling about a girl I went to high school with, Blondie McSoftball.