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Can You Really Have It All?

By on February 22, 2018

This is a very personal blog inspired by a conversation with a friend who, for the first time ever, was about to get a “real” job – one that required 40 hours a week of guaranteed and actual work, on a salary, and with benefits. On the one hand it was a great opportunity and in this particular case, the job sounded super fun. On the other hand, for someone who always did gig-type projects, the idea of working at one place was terrifying for my friend. She was also really concerned how this would impact her ability to stay active in the pole community. Upon finding the pole community many (but certainly not all) people never want to leave. Glitter! Booties! Self Love! Expression! WOHOO! I mean really, who would want to leave? People soon realize however that the pole community, while awesome, is still small and it’s challenging to make a living as a full-time pole-fessional. Most times, unless you’re a trust fund baby or have a super supportive and primary earner partner, it’s nearly impossible to make pole your full-time gig as a single earner. And for the few who do manage to make pole their livelihood, there are still challenges that come out in the spots where the glitter has worn off (more on this in an upcoming blog). So, can you have it all? Can you work a “real job” and keep your pole job? As someone who works a full time corporate job, teaches a shocking amount and trains while still having several substantial side hustles (*cough* PoleCon (*cough*), I can tell you that yes, you absolutely can but it’s not easy.

Businesswoman in her office at night working late. by Jozef Polc on

My schedule is tight, I mean tight-tight. Don’t try to get on my calendar for anything without two weeks’ notice. Don’t ask me to schedule something when I’m away from my calendar. I can’t do anything “spur of the moment” EVER and I often do two or more things at once paying no heed to the studies that say multitasking is bad for both you and the task. It is possible to work 9-5, commute home, eat and head back out to teach or train. It is. But day after day — it’s exhausting. There is no room for “I don’t feel like it” — especially if you are a pole teacher. You provide an important release for the people in your class who also have full-time jobs or full-time caregiver duties—or both. You need to be prepared and functional. Of course, everyone gets a day when they may not be at their best, but you can’t make that a habit. Self-care becomes a luxury. But a necessary one, especially if you compete. Your body will need time to recover so late-night benders rapidly become the stuff of memories replaced with “Netflix and laptops,” and turning in at a decent hour to do it all again the next day. Your social life is filled with pole-related events because that way you continue to multitask and fit everything in while pretending to not be working all the time. I tried to prepare my friend for the fatigue. I encouraged her to make a schedule starting with a few days per week of pole while she was getting used to the new job and to find creative ways and times to fit in her social media. This blog you’re reading? I wrote most of it on my commute on my phone. My social media? Done while I drink coffee in the morning because I can’t shotgun my “required” two cups of Deathwish Coffee — it must be sipped. I told her that her life will change and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe her priorities will change, and pole might even take a backseat. The older I get, the more I realize my life goes through different epochs. For a while the corporate ladder was all I cared about, and I dressed and acted the part. Now, I want comfort, I care more about my body’s long term health and mobility and could care less if someone thinks worse of me for taking a sales meeting in flats rather than a sky-high heel and just-coiffed hair. I honestly do my best work in sweatpants on a yoga ball in my house than I ever did at real desk. Maybe she’ll enter her corporate phase or maybe it’ll make her realize how much she appreciated her old lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong in change sometimes purely for the sake of change.

I hope to hear from her in a few weeks on how the transition is going. Until then, if you’re doing your own soul searching about the often-difficult intersections of pole and day jobs—especially corporate ones which often seem very at odds with each other—here are somethings to consider:

  • Be realistic: Prioritize things you want after taking care of the needs — if you need that day job, then you gotta make it work until the day that you don’t have to make it work.
  • Make a schedule: maybe not as rigid as mine (I actually don’t recommend it unless you are, in fact, a masochist) but it’ll be easier for you, your job, your family and even the pets if your schedule is basically set and everyone understands their role in making the household function.
  • Look for new tools or new ways to “fit it all in” : schedule social media in advance using a tool like HootSuite or SproutSocial, become more efficient in your regular tasks using the mostly free interconnectivity of Google Drive/Sheets/Gmail/Analytics and be ruthless about time intensive activities that are not in your needs or wants. Maybe someone else can pitch in or if you’re financially able, you can hire someone to help.
  • Be prepared to be tired: I want to tell you that you get used to it and adapt but you might not. I’m exhausted writing this and while my lifestyle is hectic, I can’t imagine how people with kids manage their lives while working AND being active in the pole community—way to go parents! Bottom line is: if you want to be involved in a way that is more than taking classes, then you’ve got a lot of creative juggling and balancing to do to get those wants and needs to line up with reality.
  • Do some soul searching: do things because they serve your ultimate goals, they feed what drives you or fulfills your life’s purpose and not because you think you should do it. This won’t make your life easy (actual conversation with my dad: “Do you have to do that pole dancing?” “No dad – I want to.”), but it will make it worth it.

Have a specific question about how I make life “work”? Just ask! If I can help someone else find their way or save some sleep, then I wanna do it! =)

Colleen Jolly
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Colleen Jolly

is AFAA and elevatED certified pole dance enthusiast and entrepreneur. She has been poling for six years, runs and owns the International Pole Convention (PoleCon), teaches pole and lyra in the DC metro area at FIT4Polers and MyBodyShop, and is a partner and instructor with She loves performing, regularly competes, and lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two kitties.
Colleen Jolly
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