The dream is over, but reality ain’t that bad.

This is a story of failure and what happened after that.

I got my first full time job at 43, that is, 43 years old.

It wasn’t that I’ve been a bum my entire life, I’ve been working since before I even finish high school. I got my first comic (manga) serialized when I was 18, in a proper weekly comic magazine in Thailand, I had a couple of series published with them. Then I moved on to try to get published in the US, because, well, that seemed like a natural progression of things, I had a bit of success early on, got a couple of books published with small indie publisher. I’ve done various short comic for various anthology. I also started working as a colorist and get to color a few well-known comic, I even get to draw a comic series with a well-known writer.

and then, nothing.

I just couldn’t get pass that. I couldn’t get better work. I got stuck doing same freelance work, I couldn’t demand a better page rate. I just couldn’t progress.

I had promised myself that if I didn’t make it by the time I was 30, I would get a full time job. Then the 30s came and I chickened out, I mean, I still made money as a low-rung freelancer, it wasn’t the it that I wanted, but it was something. So I kept up.

Then the 40s came, and the it was nowhere in sight.

The full time job.

I’m glad I didn’t write this as it happened, (oh I wrote, but it was on paper and it was for my eyes only) because I was in a low place, and what I’d have expressed then would not be what I really wanted to say after the fact, after I had a chance to breath, after I got out of that hole and see other road I can go.

Job hunting was stressful, I have no education or qualification beyond high-school. So my job options was pretty limited. I told myself I’d do anything. But if I were to be completely honest with myself, I wouldn’t last at any customer-facing jobs, i.e. retails, and that seems to be all that available for me.

Humbling experience.

The lowest point in all of this, was when I got rejected from a dishwashing job. I was pretty sure that I could wash dishes. It just seemed like they found someone who had more experience washing dishes than I do. In reality, they probably hired someone who had better job history than I do. Also, my resume probably looked like I just came out of long stint of prison sentence or something…

Got lucky.

The job I ended up with, a pharmacy assistant, was way better than I ever expected to get. I didn’t even know it was even a thing and I wasn’t searching specifically for it. I was looking for any, and I mean any, entry-level job with no experience, those were specific keywords I used, in case any of you are in the same position as I was (although I do not wish this fate on anyone, if you don’t have a hefty safety net, please have better plan B for your art ambition than I did, don’t be a victim of survivor bias) It wasn’t a customer-facing job, which was more than I could ask for. It required no more qualification than high-school diploma. It has a realistic path for growth, I could eventually become a pharmacy technician, again, not something I expected at all, I fully expected to become a barista (the other job that agreed to hire me) which I’d have been happy to do, but that’d be it for me, right? There wouldn’t be anywhere else to go beside other customer service/retail job.

A new beginning.

I have to preface that I love this job and I got really lucky getting it. But there was no denying that it was a hard work, at least for me. Remember that I was a wimp who used to sit in front of pc all day and the most movement I ever need to make was moving tablet pen with my right hand and ctrl-z with my left, going from that to standing/running around all day, moving heavy things, was a shock to the system. My job title was a fulfillment technician, but essentially, it was a warehouse job, but instead of shipping cheap Chinese trinkets, I shipped medicines. It was a very physical job and I’m still getting use to it, with copious amount of pain-relievers.

vitamin gummy bear in a medication blister card.
Some prescriptions were packed into blister cards, then I sorted them into their designated boxes to be shipped to their destination. The highlight of my day was when I get to the one with vitamin gummy bears. It looked like each little bears were in their little prison pods.

It wasn’t really over, I was just being dramatic.

I’m still drawing. Perhaps not everyday now because some day I was just so dead I just wanted to go to bed after. But I tried, whenever I have free time. I still draw. I still make things, and there’re still more things I wanted to draw, more stories I wanted to tell. The only difference now is that I don’t have to worry about making money off of it. I don’t have to draw anyone else’s idea. I don’t have to draw what I don’t want to. I can just focus on mine. In a twisted sense, I’m actually relived. It’s like cutting off festering limb, yes, it hurts, yes, you’re now one limb less. But you wouldn’t be sick anymore, you can start healing and making new life with what you have left, which is exactly what I am doing.