I spent my 20s trying to be Carrie Bradshaw in “Sex and the City.” Now, in the SATC reboot, “And Just Like That,” Carrie Bradshaw is trying to be me.
I started out as a young writer in New York City in the early aughts, and now I’m a 41-year-old successful podcaster with tens of thousands of social media followers. That’s why I was a little tickled when I watched “And Just Like That…” and discovered that 2021 Carrie Bradshaw is struggling to be a podcaster and influencer in the new HBO series.
And her struggle is real: The cool, creative dream job has shifted since SATC fist aired, and so has the grind. With so much rapidly changing – whether it’s technology, the economy or the pandemic – we’ve all had to adjust our expectations of what work, career and success look like, and what it takes to get there. Just ask the millions of people who are part of the Great Resignation. U.S. workers are also some of the most stressed in the world, with 57% of U.S. and Canadian workers feeling stress on a daily basis, up by eight percentage points from last year, according to Gallup’s recent State of the Global Workplace report.
With “And Just Like That…,” Carrie now co-hosts a podcast about sex and gender roles. Podcasting doesn’t come naturally for her, and she struggles to be as witty and carefree on air as she was in print. (She’s upstaged by her hilarious co-host played by Sara Ramirez, arguably the best part of the reboot.) After a multi-decade career in media, Carrie Bradshaw is floundering just like the rest of us. That gave me some comfort, just as her struggles on the original SATC always helped striving 30-somethings feel less alone.
But it also reminded me of how much harder the hustle is these days.
I moved to New York City in 2002 convinced I would be the next Carrie Bradshaw. Armed with a journalism degree and an overinflated sense of self, I desperately wanted to write a dishy column about New York City just like Carrie. These kinds of jobs were plentiful then, so I quickly started out as an assistant on a gossip column at the New York Daily News. The salary was just enough to pay for my own studio apartment in Manhattan’s West Village (which was about half the size of Carrie’s without the walk-in closet).
Eventually, I even landed a column at the News with my face on it, just like Carrie. I supplemented my income by freelancing very Carrie-esque confessional essays for women’s magazines and was paid well. Much like Carrie, I assumed that my career would thrive on the written word.
Then the internet took over. As has happened in so many industries, tech changed everything.
Media budgets dwindled, eyes turned to social media and the word “content” replaced “copy.” I had to evolve with the fast-changing landscape, so I experimented with different mediums — books, websites. I even attempted my hand as an Instagram influencer (there were nap dresses involved, and the experiment failed spectacularly).
Then about five years ago, I launched my first podcast, “Committed,” which was adapted from a book I had written. Early on, I recorded episodes from my bedroom closet and I worked every contact I had to help get the show out there. But podcasting ended up being a thing I’m quite good at. I’m now the host and executive producer of four shows on iHeart Radio.
So the good news is, you can pivot, you can stay relevant. In fact, experts say the Great Resignation may give you leverage to land your own dream job as power shifts to employees. According to a recent Joblist report, 20% of people surveyed quit jobs to pursue new career paths.
But it’s still not easy.
I get approached by young women on a weekly basis asking me how they can break into media. I realize that on the outside (on my Instagram) my career probably looks as enviable as Carrie’s did to me 20 years ago. I want to be as helpful to them as my many female mentors were to me. I wish I could say, “Work hard and it will happen,” like it did for me in the ’00s. But the truth is that I don’t always have a good answer besides “try to go viral on TikTok,” a feat I have no idea how to accomplish myself.
I love what I do. I adore making podcasts and writing books and essays. I feel so blessed that I get to wake up every day as a story-teller. But I’m also exhausted. I feel like I am doing six jobs because I am doing six jobs. Gone are the days when a single column in a newspaper can support one person, much less a family.
And just like that, we’re all hustling harder and faster than we ever have before.
Jo Piazza is a podcast creator and host of critically acclaimed series “Under the Influence,” “The Pod Club” and “Committed.” She is also the bestselling author of nine books that have been translated into more than 10 languages. Her latest novel, “We Are Not Like Them,” was released in October. Follow her on Twitter @JoPiazza.