Job


Have you ever felt like you’ve focused on one thing, and one thing only, a little too intensely?  Like your life, from sunrise to sunset, was dedicated to only one pursuit?

I have a good friend, V, kicking butt at a very prestigious law school in the Mid-West.  V and I met during an internship just over two years ago and, after becoming fast friends with a shared love for chocolate and Grey’s Anatomy, we’ve stayed close.  In both our cases, we’ve now made it to a point we’d been trying to reach for most of our lives: for her, law school, for me, a career in politics.

We were talking the other day (over G-Chat, I’m a new convert!) about how great it is that we’ve gotten so far at such young ages.  We are products of the feminist movement: set a goal, girls, and there’s nothing to stop you.

But what do you do when you get there?

I’ve worked incredibly hard to get to the place that I am, as has V.  But at what cost?  I often feel like I’m living a one-note life – my existence is my job, and nothing else.  For V, venting her pre-finals frustration over instant message, the only thing she’s concentrated on since she started law school is, yep, law school.  All those other trivial pursuits (you know, like a social life) fall by the wayside as you become “successful.”

We’re taught to shoot for the moon and that wanting it is enough.  But I don’t want just the moon – I want the UNIVERSE.  I want a career but I also want to see my friends and family, have a relationship, and be reminded that my purpose is SO MUCH MORE than I’d originally planned.

I know that part of growing up is about finding balance in yourself, for ALL parts of yourself.  The professional AND the personal.  But, as I’m sure V  – and many others – can attest… they don’t teach that kind of a course in college.

…so what do you do to find it?

No, I didn’t forget to update.  I just got… busy.  With, you know, employment.  And stuff.  Right.

Well, it’s been a week, and I have to say I really love my new position.  It’s administrative, but in a good way – I’m learning a lot and absorbing a lot and hopefully making an impact.

Now, granted, it wasn’t an instant “OH MY GOSH I’VE FOUND MY
CALLING WHEEEEEEE!” kind of an experience the first few days.  In fact, last Thursday and Friday I walked around in a bit of a daze, smiling and nodding and hoping it looked like I was picking up on things, all while furiously fighting the fight or flight response.  After two solid months of unemployment and five months of looking, I finally had a position… and all I wanted was to run in the other direction.

I’m not sure what it was, if it was a new office, or a new experience or just sheer terror, but my legs itched to take me out the door.  Perhaps it was because the whole process went so quickly; I didn’t have time to adjust.  I was so happy to be working, but the change of it all… I think it just scared me.  It was a lot to take in in a very short amount of time.

After a week of training, I feel significantly better.  I can handle this, I can do well at this.  And that’s a very good feeling.

*Completely unrelated aside: The last episode of ER is on right now.  Kind of unbelievable.

Yesterday, oh yesterday.

I left my interview feeling great.  Have you ever walked out knowing you nailed it?  Yeah, that’s how I felt.  I didn’t expect to hear anything until later this week – they wanted to fill the position quickly, and told me I’d know something by Friday.

My phone rang at 3:30, and I had accepted an offer by 5.  I start tomorrow.

So, wow.  I’m still recovering from the whiplash of the day.  I mean, I hadn’t heard ANYTHING from any jobs since November.  NOVEMBER!  It’s bad out there, and I was ready to settle in for the long haul.  I’d finally made peace with the waiting game, and then, BOOM.  Everything happens at once.

Before I heard from my new employers (eep!), I got an unexpected phone call from a friend and mentor I hadn’t talked to in YEARS.  He was the first person to hire me in DC – he took a chance on a wide eyed, naive 18-year-old freshman and showed her the ropes of this crazy city.  He oh-so-gently reminded me that, hey!  No one judges you for your work experience, you dolt.  I can’t express how thankful I am to have him in my cheering section.  Check out his blog (which I just discovered) – I promise, you’ll enjoy.

That said, I also need to thank all the folks that sent me congratulations yesterday.  I am incredibly blessed to have so many people in my corner.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in yourself and forget that, hey, you have more safety nets than one person could POSSIBLY need.  I’m a lucky girl, and I know it.

I’m off to finish my ironing (I do not remember owning that many button-downs…) and get ready for my next adventure.  Tomorrow’s going to be a blast!

My friend Caitlin sent me that analogy this morning… she’s exactly right.  But I think I’d add the other elusive on there, too.

I didn’t realize how down I’d been about this unemployment thing until I put my suit on this morning to get ready for my interview.  It felt… AMAZING.  I felt like a whole person again… which is strange.  Until this morning, I didn’t know a piece of clothing could have that kind of effect on me.

The truth is, I’ve been down because I’ve always defined myself by my job.  When I was 12, I couldn’t wait to volunteer at my local library, because then I’d have the chance to say I was going to “work.”  I couldn’t wait to turn 14 so I could work at McDonald’s.  I couldn’t wait to make it to DC so I could have an internship.  And I couldn’t wait to graduate so I could start my career.

Ambition is both a quality and a downfall.  To this point, I’ve been incredibly lucky in ALL of my employment pursuits.  I wanted to be a McDonald’s manager, so I smiled at every customer, memorized both the breakfast and lunch menu and volunteered to work in Drive Thru every chance I got.  I was a manager six months after I started.

(And yes, I understand that it’s MCDONALD’S and that they hand promotions out like candy.  But I was 16, and I thought it was pretty cool.)

My point is that this unemployment has been HARD.  I’ve felt rudderless for the first time in my life.  I’ve never had to ask what’s next because I’ve never given myself the chance.  I’ve rushed into the next endeavor without blinking, and even though my eyes were wide open, I was blind to the person I was becoming.

I want to be more than my job.  I want to be recognized, not for that ambition, but for being a good person.  For being someone people trust, and want to spend time with.  I want to be the whole package.

These past few months have meant more to my personal growth than any job I’ve ever had.  But, that said… I’m still excited at how well my interview went today.  Some habits are hard to break. 🙂