Let Go (Part II) Don't Be Buried In The Artist's Graveyard
If you spend time in an Apple Retail Store anywhere in the world, you'll find that most of the employees are very much interested in and involved in some form of art. The people in these blue shirts are typically musicians, actors, painters, graphic designers, cinematographers, writers, dancers, and so on. But hidden inside that blue shirt, you'll also find a vast array of deflated or nearly deflated dreams from people who have seemingly given up and succumbed the normalities of a dead end job. Or as I like to call it, the artist's graveyard.
Before I go into how I was able to not be buried alive in the artist's graveyard otherwise known as Apple, let me first explain the situation I was in.
Many of the people working in the Apple stores are incredibly unhappy. I was one of them. When I finally let go of the invisible string I was dangling from at the SoHo Apple Store in 2012, the morale was significantly low. But as a customer, you'd never know that. Why? Because of fear and the best marketing team on the planet.
Just a few months before I got the heck out of Apple, the company unexpectedly gave us an unusually high pay raise. Most employees had their hourly rate increase from fifteen dollars to nineteen or twenty dollars per hour. Sweet! Right? No. Not if you were part time. Only two weeks after this amazing pay increase, the company cut the amount of hours the part time staff was scheduled (about 75% of the staff is part time). They went from working thirty to forty hours per week, to ten or fifteen hours a week. We all know that Apple is among the wealthiest companies in the US, so why they increased pay only to later reduce the shift hours is completely beyond me. As a full time employee, I wasn't even allowed to give some of my hours to those who needed it.
This is when you'd expect employees to get fed up and find a better job. But it is difficult to let go when you're constantly being told that Apple IS better. We were always reminded that Apple makes the best products, that Apple has the best customer service, and that Apple is the best place to work. The managers and leaders of the store would keep us grounded in fear by reminding us that so many other young and talented people would love to work for Apple. Or say things like "It's harder to get a job in Apple than it is to be accepted into Stanford University." If you are familiar with the hiring process for a retail store, then you know this statement makes zero sense. But we are all young and naive and feel like we have no choice but drink the juice. The truth is that Apple has become just like any other crappy dead-end job. They are just really good at disguising their crap and presenting it as filet mignon.
After being an Apple employee for just over four years in several stores located on the West Coast and East Coast, I have many, many, MANY reasons as to why I would no longer recommend working for them, but that is not important. What is important is HOW I was able to let go of the fear holding me and remove myself from an emotionally dangerous situation. When I realized that the glass ceiling in the Apple Store wasn't nearly as high as we are led to believe, I simply let go. Here is how:
1. Wake Up Early.
I always made sure I was awake at least four hours before my shift started. This time was basically used to mentally prepare myself for work. Sometimes I would sit on a bench around the Reservoir in Central Park and watch the sunrise. If it was too cold outside, I'd stay in and meditate or play my guitar. Sip on tea and write whatever popped into my mind.
2. Continued To Pursue My Dreams.
I write and perform comedy and hope to one day do this professionally. Usually I was rushing out of the Apple Store to make it to a class or comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.
3. Surrounded Myself With People Who Are Positive, Supportive, And Most Importantly HAPPY.
There was an air inauthenticity at Apple and behind scenes, most people were miserable and complained a lot. But luckily I was able to find positive, supportive, and happy people at UCB.
4. Step Outside Myself And The Situation. AKA: I Went Away.
This is ultimately what led me to disposing the rotten apple in my life. I had the whole weekend off and I decided to go somewhere I had never been. I took a Bolt Bus to Philadelphia and spent an entire day there. On the bus ride back, I remember staring out the window and that is when I realized just how ginormous New York City is. As the bus drove closer and closer to Manhattan, the wall of lies that had trapped me within Apple, began to slowly crumble. The following day, I decided to walk around the city. I walked from one end of Manhattan to the opposite end and then back to my studio. This walk allowed me to become fully aware of the fact that Apple is only a small portion of New York City. There is an abundance of everything in New York, including opportunity, but I had to be willing to step outside the glass box in order to see this simple truth.
5. Let Go.
After my trip to Philly and the long walk around the city, I knew I could no longer stay at Apple. It was bad for my well being and in order to continue living my life, I needed to let go. And the "what if" fears began to flood every ounce of my body. What if I can not find another job? What if Apple IS in fact the best place to work? What if I had to move out of my studio? What if, what if, what if? The fear was incredibly heavy. Then I remembered a great quote:
I did the thing I feared the most. I left the "best" job I would ever have. Three weeks later I was offered a job as a production assistant for a day-time talk show. It paid more than Apple, provided free Seamless Web dinners, free cab ride home, and the crew was happy. The new job kept me busy for several months. So busy that it began to interfere with my comedy. And I knew what I had to do…. Let it go. But there was no fear this time. I knew I'd find something even better. Something that paid well and would allow me to continue pursuing my comedy. And of course I did.
Leaving Apple was only the beginning for me. No, I'm still not where I want to be in life, but at least I don't feel like throwing myself in front of the speeding uptown Express A train anymore. The people around me are finding success and I know my time will come soon.
Whatever your artist's graveyard is, you must find a way to get out. Everyone's journey is different and so the path you need to take will also be different. This is what worked for me. I hope that you can find a way to make it work for you in your situation.