Over the last six years, I’ve done my fair share of complaining about modeling. The weird bones that have presented themselves on my feet because of shoes three sizes too small, the pinching and poking and general forfeiting of my person, the girls with putty brains and mouths filled with nothing: It’s all been annoying, and I’ve been pretty vocal about it. Comments like, “But you could do this forever!” have been met with a lot of eye rolling and “Dear God, no thank you.” I carried around a chip on my shoulder because I wanted to come off as something better than a model, a person not just complacent with being nice to look at–maybe. It’s hard to say how much of my outward disdain for the business is about genuine irritation or obligation to play the straight and narrow, work hard for a good life instead of having it being handed to you. Because over the last ten years, I’ve been handed plenty.
Awhile back I dated a guy whose ex-girlfriend was a model. She was friends with other models, now all in their thirties. From the sound of it, they were all fairly complacent about their careers and its subsequent perks, not as cognizant as I apparently was about climbing a stairway to nowhere. They liked living a certain lifestyle, working out at 10 a.m. and going to lunch in the middle of a Wednesday. They could travel when they wanted, spend when they wanted. “But didn’t they want to do something else?” I asked, wholly confused that there were groups of girls out there not trying to not be models. And not just girls – these were women, aging models well out to pasture. “Didn’t they want to work towards something?” I queried.
It has been a long time since I have relished in the utter freedom modeling brings. My early twenties were spent flying around the country, sleeping in hotel rooms with my best friends and watching the Discovery Channel in between fittings and jobs. Most of the week, I worked days and danced nights. Door guys knew if I had gone out of town for any lengthy amount of time because I lived at their club. I took modeling seriously. I worried if I wouldn’t fit into the clothes, refused to take vacation if it meant missing work. I was ridiculously focused on a ridiculous task… and so I started writing in the hopes of soon becoming a Serious Person.
As the last two months have brought me more than my fair share of Serious Work, I find myself increasingly short of breath, my chest seizing when I think about all of the things I have to do. This is what I’d been missing out on the last decade of my life: Genuine panic, strict deadlines, and the Real World. This is what I claimed to have wanted instead of all those aimless hours spent in makeup chairs, thinking of nothing but my own self-indulgent boredom. Sometimes, right before the thin gauze that counts as sleep these days falls upon me, I debate having given up on the easily life so easily. Maybe I should have milked it a little longer. This Serious Person life is hard work.