Since September of 2016 I have been working to build my business and establish myself in the Toronto escort industry. I've been saving since the fall to move to Europe for school. I did three tours to the United States in the last five months. I'm glad I did this, but it quickly became an unhealthy addiction to work without me noticing. It became less about saving and more about me trying to prove to myself that I could consistently make more. I neglected a lot of other aspects of my life. This industry can sometimes be like "Golden Handcuffs". When I started sex work I promised myself that I wouldn't become absorbed by the money. Although this period of saving was necessary, I still need to take care of myself and balance my life.
Last weekend I spent with a client just outside of San Francisco. I realized then that I had to re-evaluate my relationship to this work. Although my client was safe and I had a nice time California, anything could have gone wrong. He was screened, but was that enough? If you had asked me a year ago if I would have flown to San Francisco, and gone to the country with a man for two days that I hadn't met in his car...I would have told you: absolutely not. It isn't safe. After coming home I took a moment and re-assessed why I had decided to go through with the booking. Why I put myself at potential risk for the sake of making money.
A big problem in the escort industry is women comparing their income and luxury lifestyle. When I first started I wanted to make high monthly targets. I felt that I wasn't doing well when people told me how much they were making. But I was actually doing better than I ever had been up to that point financially in my life. Now I am at the point where I am making the same amount of money as some of these women. But I failed to put into perspective that some of them were charging more per hour, or had been established for awhile. They may have had one or two men donating a large part of that (the smart thing to do). They may have been lying, due to social industry pressure to appear successful. There is sometimes an unhealthy standard for many sex workers to live up to. It goes beyond classism, as high monthly targets can be made at any rate.
This industry changed my relationship to money. Once I saw how much I could make, I just wanted to make more. I realize now that this it isn't sustainable for me to do that going forward in the manner that I was. I don't want to be always on my phone and having to travel to the United States constantly to achieve a number in my head which is above what I need to live a comfortable life. This isn't like a real job. This is an intimate environment. And in order for me to enjoy my job (and personal life), I need to be concentrating more on self care.
There is a lot of social pressure in this industry to appear rich. I now know that half of escort marketing is smoke and mirrors. Some of them have sugar daddies buying what's in their twitter photos. Some of them have credit card debt and shopping addictions. Some of them even have rich parents, a boyfriend taking care of them, and/or student loans. And here I was, working as hard as I could to try to do it all on my own.
Part of the issue of this industry is that we are expected to pretend like everything is perfect online for the sake of being a fantasy. We are expected to simply be an image: a woman devoid of feelings, opinions, and (a lot of the time) intelligence. We are expected to talk amongst ourselves on twitter about the next fancy outing, the next sexy photos and the next designer purchase. We are expected to be a consumer, not a creator. Some women feel pressure to social climb, a lot of fake friendships are made, and there will always be the next new escort. It can be a never ending existence of hollow superficiality. I have been rebelling against this for the past little while because I felt stifled, phony, and dumbed down. I like shopping, travel, and food, but that's only a fraction of my reason to exist. Status based on masquerading wealth has always meant less to me than status based on personal achievement and the money in my bank account.
I need to put less pressure on myself to chase high targets. I have to learn to stop equating my value with how much money I make. I care more about having balance.