I read a lot of cozy mysteries on vacation last week.
Don’t ask me how murder mysteries can be so charming and relaxing, but they are. Cozy series tend to follow a set formula: a single woman in her mid-20s to 30’s, owns a successful small business in a small town. Despite the small size of the community, there is a high rate of murder, and said small-business owner ends up doing detective work as a hobby. So, what does that have to do with my post-title question? Because these books makes me want to quit my job, pack up my cat, and buy a cottage and a little storefront in a small town. But, would I regret leaving my fledgling career?
I work in the least cozy field you can imagine.
My days are spent in front of my computer designing tests, analyzing data, and tweaking code. It’s not a career I ever pictured myself in in high school, or even college- but it’s a surprisingly good fit. I am good at what I do, and I actually like my job (a rarity for my generation). I get to work from home, have full control over my schedule, and make decent pay (also rate for millenials). I have nothing to complain about when it comes to my day job, but I don’t always feel fulfilled. My job is data-driven. It’s technical. It’s goals are to make clients and investors happy. In short, my job is corporate, and therefore leaves little room for creativity or connection.
So I try to supplement that on my own time.
In addition to my full-time job in tech, I do own a small business making soaps, perfumes, and candles. I get to use all my pent-up creativity, and express myself through crafting. It’s a nice little hobby, and I like to picture a cute little storefront full of my creations. But right now, that’s just a dream. I don’t think I can make it a gull-time gig, especially in this economy. The harsh truth that hustle-bros, and entrepreneur-influencers don’t tell you is that working for yourself is more stressful and less stable than working for a wage. You can rely on a paycheck, but you can’t always count on steady sales.
I am stuck between two dreams.
The first is very practical, capitalist, and #girlboss: it’s to keep climbing the corporate ladder. I imagine myself as the “Woman Who Has It All” in one of the #feministfilms of the early 2000’s, or the female lead in a Hallmark movie before she goes back to visit her hometown and meets the handsome, but low-key suspicious male lead. I could have the high-paying, fast paced career, the gorgeous apartment in the city, the equally successful romantic partner, and the glamorous life. Time for a not-so-humble brag, but I have already made myself invaluable at my company and a hot commodity on LinkedIn. It’s not unthinkable to believe that I could be a department head and industry expert in the next decade, but is that the life I want?
My second dream is more whimsical, quiet, and #cottagecore: run a small business in a close-knit community. In this fantasy I am the kind but wise neighbor. I am the female lead in the Hallmark movie after she decides to leave the city and settle down with the handsome but suspicious male lead. My home would be small but cozy, and my income would be tight but (hopefully) enough to build a quiet life. I don’t know if I could adapt to the sort of small, intimate community I imagine, because I never lived in one before- but is this what I want?
Do I even have to choose?
Both of these dreams are mere fantasies; the reality of either lifestyle is sure to be vastly different from these TV-tropes. The fact is, life is far more complected than choosing the stock character you want to be. Why not build your own custom character? As I spend this last week mulling over my dream life, I came to the conclusion that I’ve been doing just that.
I already created my own #cozycorporate life.
Yes, it is oxymoronic in name, and far from perfect. There are many aspects of this life that I don’t like. I work for “The Man” in a late-stage capitalistic system I morally oppose. “Competition” and “Growth” (i.e. revenue) are a much larger part of my work life than I’d like, I rent rather than own a home, and have weeks that I am so busy I become too overwhelmed to think straight. But there are also many things I enjoy about my life. I maintain a decent work-life balance that allows me to spend time with my friends and family. I live in a small city with lots of amenities and a walkable downtown area. I make enough money to live comfortably and save for a rainy day. And I do fill my life with beauty and creativity on my off time. Honestly, that’s more than enough.
Where do I see myself in five years?
I don’t know what life will bring. I might lose my job in a recession, or advance to a new stage in my career. I may stay in the growing cities of the Wasatch Front, or move on to greener pastures (literally, we’ve been in a decade-long drought). My business might take off, or fail. I might get married or stay single. I may even go down a completely different road than the ones I already paved. And all of that is okay. Life keeps moving, so who knows where I will end up! But, if in five years, my life still looks like this, that would be fine too.