THE VINCIBILITY GAP
You may not know this, but the root of the word invincibility is actually a word in an of itself: vincible. According to the OED,
1. Of persons: That may be overcome or vanquished in battle or conflict, or in some contest; susceptible of defeat or overthrow.
I’m going to use this term, the idea of being defeated, to define a life stage that I almost recently fell into myself. Since it’s easier for me to explain things based on my own experience, I’m going to start there…
I had a vision, I’ve always had a vision, of how I secretly wished my life to be. (I think most people do.) As I got older, I took it for granted that it was out of reach, impossible. Whatever part of me that was the invincible-feeling child who formed the vision in the first place became dormant.
Through a series of circumstances starting in my mid twenties, I found myself a freelance writer with no man and no plan, right around the time when many of my age group were ending their lives, not starting them. (I mean ending in a Franklin-esque way, of course, and not literally). I was freaked out, admittedly.
I shored myself up on quotes from the likes of Benjamin Franklin and European fashion editors who swore up and down that aging was good, life got better and you really aren’t a person until you turn 30 anyway, so just chill. Do you.
I did. And the most wonderful things started to happen. This vision I had for myself started to look like it might actually be possible. Inevitable, even. So I worked and I dreamed and as my work fell more in line with my own interests I started visualizing all kinds of things like just being…fresh to death. Basically.
The next natural step for me was to get out of dodge (Michigan) for a second time and head back to New York, which I did. But then, a hiccup. While I’d judged all the poor pedestrians who’d given up before they’d given themselves a real chance, I thought about doing it too.
I wanted to stabilize my income so that I could predict when my free time would be and use it wisely to really pursue my own writing and intellectual interests. And while continuing to freelance might produce that outcome and much more free time in a long run sense, I felt “why wait?”
If my goal is not to have my name on a byline, but to have it on a book jacket, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep chasing after a higher freelance income when I can have a perfectly adequate one now through a full time job and ditch the inherent stress that comes with freelancing. Because let’s face it, yes, someday one will get to a place where their bank account is stacked and they’re not worried about not working for a few weeks, or months, he or she even has enough to take a cushy vacation, and then some.
But eventually at some point, you will have to start digging into your contacts again, calling favors from friends, asking old clients if they need anything and make sure your stack doesn’t deplete too much. And the necessity of that behavior wouldn’t be getting me closer to my goal in a timeframe that made sense.
So I come back here, I talk to recruiters up the wing wang, I take a part time gig with a client whose business and work has nothing to do with my vision. Nothing—for some income stability. Because ideally a full time job in an area/vertical I love is what my vision entailed. (When your day job is dope, your book doesn’t need to be a best seller, am I right?)
I took a break. I turned down opportunities in favor of this stability. The idea was this was a perfect short-term thing I could do for the next year. I had two days off per week in which to pursue bigger and better things. The only problem was, my vision started to fade.
Where did it go? The Vincibility Gap. That place I’d determined was for other people but now I know is for everyone. Come one, come all, when circumstances that are supposed to be temporary, or compromises for something greater, start to feel “good enough” instead of “good enough for now.” When Mr. Right Now, turns into Mr. Right. When living in the suburbs to XYZ becomes a lifetime in the suburbs. When moving for a job becomes staying for life.
It can hit you at any age. At any time. But usually is at its widest during the period your contemporary society tells you it’s time to settle down. It’s time to quit. That’s when you’re most tempted to fall in.
As for me? How does the story go on? I’ve doubled down my efforts not to give up. To keep the vision alive. To be grateful for the work I have but to not forget about the work I need to do.