In Season 6 of Brooklyn 99, Gina Linetti, the office manager for the 99th police precinct in Brooklyn, NY, quits the precinct to start her own business and cultivate followers for her Instagram. She calls it the G-Hive, a play on the Bey-hive, a gathering of Beyonce’s fans. However, we find out that Gina’s fame has come at a price. While Jake pretends to be fine with Gina cancelling plans and not keeping in touch with him, under the guise that she is busy and cares about her work, Terry knows that Gina is just blowing both of them off because she wants to have a successful career. Gina arranges for the three of them to meet for drinks, but Gina ends up not coming. When Terry and Jake meet up with Gina, she tells them she had food poisoning, but later, when someone from her publicity team calls her, he cheers her on for ditching Terry and Jake to meet with influential figures at a bottled water company. Jake realizes that Gina cares more about her work than she does about spending time with her friends, and storms out. When Gina and Jake are outside, Gina tries to say sorry and make amends, but Jake tells her they aren’t friends anymore if she cares more about her success than she does about him and Terry. Then a criminal stabs Gina in the back, and she lands in the hospital. We don’t know if Gina will go back to her business of the G-hive, but she ends up meeting with Jake and Terry at the bar, and arranges a surprise visit from Terry’s old friend from school who went on to be a successful hockey player in Canada but lost touch with Terry even when Terry made the effort to reach out to him.
I am writing about this episode because it rings so true for my life as a creative. I remember in college cancelling plans and not staying in touch with my friends because I was always doing activities in the music department or studying. Looking back, while I am proud that I excelled academically and musically, I can say that learning how to communicate with people has been the most challenging course I have taken in life. When people would try to reach out to me, I often rebuffed them because I felt stressed and my tendency is to isolate myself when things get stressful. My friends would invite me to things, but I always acted like I was too busy, when in reality, all I was thinking about was myself and my own success. What working and taking care of my mental health after college has taught me is that while it’s of course important to take care of your business and work hard, you have time to live a little. Let’s face it, I was no busier than my friends, even with my workload and orchestra, and yet I always acted like that because I wanted people to take me and my commitments seriously. I lost touch with a lot of people because of this, and ended up taking my anger out on some people because I arrogantly thought they didn’t respect me or my plans.
I think taking time off has shown me that while life is tough, there is always going to be someone more stressed out and busier than me. Heck, not even to compare, but we’re all busy. When I left my job at the daycare my second year of college and flaked on the teachers when I promised to work my last week, I apologized profusely to the teacher I worked with, and she cut me off and said, with a rightfully irritated tight smile and even more strenuous laugh, “People are busy, we know.” Because I had used that excuse so many times with her, when I would “call in sick” so I could study extra and impress my professors by saying some well thought-out comment in class. All that got me was sleep deprivation, poor time management, and a lack of class participation because I was too tired to live, study, breathe. Working with those kids was a way for me to come out of my ego-centered self, to bring out my own inner child by painting, reading children’s books, and playing games with those kiddos. However, I was so into myself that I thought I was too busy to work. I mean, like, seriously, what kind of nonsense excuse is that?
But in short, I was glad I watched this Brooklyn 99 episode because it taught me a valuable lesson: don’t let success get to your head. Make time for yourself and your loved ones. You have to say no sometimes. And don’t quit your day job unless you have something lined up (Gina quit the 99 without a plan, and as someone who tried doing this in the past, I can say it is not for everyone, certainly not for someone like me). It’s okay to do your creative work on the side, and doing it on the side doesn’t make you any less serious about it. I don’t have a full-time music career, but I still love to play music in my spare time after work, write this blog, watch movies, listen to music, knit. And even if I do have a full-time music career in the future, I have to remind myself that success is fleeting and to never forget to keep in touch with loved ones and close friends. Social interaction is what makes us human, and spending time with loved ones (or even just staying in touch through FaceTime or Skype, especially if you live internationally or long-distance) is important for living a fulfilling life. Even if I become a successful musician, I hope I will never let that go to my head.