“of course I’m proficient at Excel” and other slight exaggerations

I love how every time I come back, I start with “I didn’t mean to not write for the past two weeks orhoweverlongwhatever” and then give you some weak excuse for my absence.

Anyway, I’m going to do that again. But this time, the excuse is very what the heck.

In my defense, I thought I had a job. Twice. As far as I know, I do have a job right now. But do I? Let’s investigate.

Job #1: Dogwalker

Being that I’ve owned multiple dogs, have professionally cared for dogs other than my own, have a clean record and common sense, you would think that I could pull off the task of getting hired as a dog walker…and technically, I did. I went through two interviews for a dog walking position: one with an office manager and one with the owner of the company. Then I had a whole 5-hour shadow day that involved meeting dogs and going on walks, learning how pickup and drop-offs work, and learning how to use the company’s app. It went really well, and I’m not just saying that because I have inflated confidence. The dogs liked me, the staff seemed to like me, and my shadow-ee even assured me that I’d get a good review. Not too sure about “shadow-ee” as a word, but I’m going to press on.

The night after my shadow experience, I received the “congratulations you’re hired!” email and was instructed to fill out some paperwork and send it back to the office. I went to my local library the next morning to print everything (cost me $2, mind you) and had all of it filled out and sent back within a few hours.

Just over an hour after I sent everything back to the office, I received a response from the woman with whom I had my first interview and had been emailing this entire time. This email stated rather abruptly that something “came up” and therefore they had to rescind the offer. Good luck, though.

…okay. These things happen. It could’ve easily been something weird on their end, like realizing that they had overcommitted to hiring new people and ran into a financial problem. And yet. Despite having a clean record and no weirdness to even turn up during a background check, the paranoid part of me became fully convinced that something sketchy and awful did come up to lead these people to think that I wasn’t suitable for this job.

I asked, very politely and with a disclaimer that I fully respect the company’s decision, if I could have any more information about this sudden change. I mentioned, per the advice of one of my lawyer friends (thank you, love you) that I had shared quite a bit of personally identifiable information with the company, which gave me good cause to be concerned about the sudden change of plans.

Alas, I received no response. This still seems a bit weird to me, but I did see with my own two eyes that the place is a real business, and I have no money for anyone to steal from me even if they wanted to…so what is there to worry about, I suppose.

To the dogs I met that day, it was a true honor. To the dogs I’ll never meet…I still love all of you.

Job #2: General retail!

I’ve never worked a “traditional” retail position, since my preferred method of self-inflicted torture is food service. I have worked in sales – I’ve sold liquor and art and decorative bobbles and sandwiches, but all of those sales experiences took place in nontraditional retail spaces. For example, I managed a food stand at the US Open, once upon a time. That was a three week gig. Everything else, I sold in markets – Union Square, Rockefeller Plaza, other…parks, y’know. Just me and someone else’s iPad and card reader passing the days away under a tent.

However, there’s a store near my home that’s been hiring for a while, and I happen to like the brand and love the atmosphere of the store itself. I applied last week and after a pretty low-stress interview, was hired on Friday. I was told that I’d be hearing from someone about a group new-hire orientation that would take place once the manager got back from vacation.

I don’t know, guys. It’s been a week and I haven’t heard anything at all. What’s the story, here?

Part of me is convinced that the second I post this, that’s when I’ll get a phone call or email, and I know I should be rooting for that to happen. It’s well past time I get a bit of regularity back into my work schedule.

At the same time, I’m anxious, just as I always am when I’m about to start a new commitment. Part of my brain screams “their silence is a sign!! Keep looking for something else, quickly! Before they orientate you and you’ll feel too guilty to ever leave!”

I’m really trying to nurture a more reasonable part of my brain lately, the part that quietly suggests that I have to stop running away from everything the second things get real. It doesn’t help that two days ago I received a whole seperate email asking if I was still interested in a position I applied to three months ago. I said yes, because I’m chaotic! So now on top of not knowing what’s going on with the job I agreed to, I’m actually hoping to hear back from a job I originally went after three months ago.

It’s funny how much guilt ends up playing a role in this job search process. I’m blessed to have more than a few people in my life who have offered to help me find something within some office or another, or have advised me to pursue a certain industry over something else based on their own struggles and experience. Again, I’m so lucky to have people willing to gift me all of this advice and assistance. It just…feels really bad when I say “thank you” and then proceed to (mostly) not do any of the things I was advised.

See, I’m walking a very thin, confused line between being quite picky…and desperation.

Here’s the thing: Unless I find a fantastic contract/short-term job that pays well and offers a nice chunk of consistent work for a while, I’m looking for a job that I can stick with.

I don’t even mean as a “career,” necessarily. I don’t think I’m there yet, unless again, I get really lucky. It can be a survival job again, I’m okay with that. BUT if it’s a survival job, it cannot take up every waking hour of my life, preventing me from pursing anything else.

Let me add, I fully recognize my privilege in being able to say that. At the moment, I have financial support and I don’t have any dependents. This is in no way meant to shame anyone whose survival job(s) do take up every waking hour of their life, because they do not have a choice. That is a very real situation, one that surrounds me every day, and my awareness of that reality is part of why I’m so anxious to start myself down a road I want to be on as soon as possible.

The dog walking job wasn’t meant to be forever, just a source of some income while I carried on looking for something else. The retail job is a bit better – doesn’t pay much, but would be enough, and would still leave me some breathing time to piece together a long term plan. That job from three months ago would be a big commitment, but only for three months as it’s a contract position…and the pay would be worth it.

Positive side-note: it sure is nice to get back into reading lots of books in my downtime! AND I’ve successfully forced myself back into yoga! Yay! Something funky is going on with the circulation in my left leg and I’ve noticed that those left thigh veins are getting darker (and more painful??) so I’m trying to stretch myself out and flip myself upside down and whatnot more often. I’m holding myself to doing at least 2 out of these 4 things every day: yoga, writing, working out, and finishing a book. It’s going well. Small challenges, y’know?

Whatever happens with work, happens. It can’t get me down. This is my favorite time of year. It always feels like rebirth – the chaotic party marathon that is summer coming to an end, the change in the air and the comfort of settling into something fresh with new intentions.*

I hope you’re feeling good. Don’t forget to slow down. Use your library card. Flip yourself upside down. Walk someone else’s dog. Follow your dreams. Etc.


*Most blogger-y thing I’ve ever written, dear God. Sorry.

The end of August in pictures 🙂

things I know: a little bit about John Updike, and nothing about the economy

We are going full stream of consciousness this evening, folks.

I am very burnt out with regard to my job hunt. I realize that feeling burnt out is just part of the job-hunt territory, much like working in the service industry. When it comes to both, you know going in that feeling burnt out isn’t an “if” but a “when” situation. I can safely say that most people accepting a full-time serving position (in NYC, mind you) are not thinking “…you know what will never get old? This!”

I was riding a nice wave of motivation and productivity for a good few weeks with little to show for it, aside from a lot of additions to my “jobs applied” Google sheet. A law firm toyed with me a bit and then a hotel, but I couldn’t hook either of them. To tell you the truth, I think part of the problem is that a large part of me still doesn’t want the jobs to which I’m applying. I’m still a bit confused as to what I’m trying to do, here.

What I’m realizing is that the job posts I’m excited to see and would be fired up to apply to, I can’t actually apply to because I’m lacking the necessary educational background and/or experience. The other day, my dad told me about some study revealing that men are more likely to apply to jobs where they don’t meet the qualifications than women are. Let me just say, I do believe in pushing for the things you want, and I’ve definitely embellished on my experience at times in the past when a job seemed too perfect. We have to acknowledge, though, that there are times when you really do need a specific background to apply for a job. Some examples:

  • working at an animal rescue (no veterinary skills, college-level science education, or experience working at a rescue? welp!)
  • environmental conservation (unless you want to try to get people to sign petitions on the street, the other jobs aka the ones I would want involve at least some amount of environment science background, and/or field work)
  • videographer (I have no camera, software, extremely limited software skills, and no portfolio. I know what you’re thinking: well then, fix that! …Friends. I would love to. That stuff is e x p e n s i v e. I need a job just to afford to prepare for that job.)
  • anything in a library (there’s a specific masters you need for that, too. the heck!)

These are just some examples off the top of my head, but I’ve spent the better part of the last three years sorting through all sorts of job openings, trying to figure out how to spin my experience to show these hiring teams “look, I may not have exactly what you’re asking for, but I’m a hard worker, I’m good with people, I believe in going the extra mile, and I’m very willing to learn.”

Anyway, my point wasn’t to be complain-y about the job hunt, here. There are as many exciting aspects as annoying ones, especially those magical moments when I come across something that I feel fits who I am and the way that I work.

My point was to wonder out loud…why are liberal arts degrees even a thing?

Okay please stay calm, liberal arts pals. I have a liberal arts degree. I had the best time in my English classes, seriously. They shaped the way I read, process, write, perform research, and more. I hated the core classes I was forced to take, like marketing, math (even that one math class for English majors was a struggle) and microeconomics. Those classes were the most challenging ones for me, and I definitely did not have a “knack” for any of those subjects the way I did for writing literary research papers.

In retrospect, I should’ve pushed myself to study something that didn’t come easily to me. I know I would have still loved reading, writing, the arts – you name it. My grades wouldn’t have been as good, but I would’ve learned things I can’t learn without guidance from professors.

Wouldn’t it make sense if we went to college to learn how to do something that you can’t learn how to do without college?

(the radical part) …and if those were the only degrees offered?

Imagine I had a biology degree to fall back on right now while I pursue writing endeavors. Or had a degree in accounting. Computer science. Information systems. (Is that something? It sounds like something.) I’m willing to bet I’d at least get more interview offers when I send out for jobs, because having degrees of this sort means that you have entire special skill sets that other people (like us English majors) don’t even know exist.

That’s gotta be super handy.

Maybe I’m making a terrible point, or making a decent point terribly, but take it from someone who is faced with “profiency in [blank, blank, and blank] required” on a daily basis. It used to be Microsoft Office, Google Suite, and maybe something to do with Excel specifically. There’s so much more now, it’s insane! The proactive person in me would try to find a way to learn how to use different software programs via YouTube videos or attempt to purchase that software on the cheap and self-teach, but this still brings me back to the same point: if I end up having to put in this extra work anyway, what is this degree I currently have really doing for me?

Could/should someone have warned me that I chose a luxurious degree that should really be reserved for fancy rich people who want to sound “well-educated” at social gatherings? Should I not have studied something to do with science or computers and numbers and then joined my local library immediately post graduation? Would it be okay to be sort of meh at writing essays, but for the sake of being a financially stable human who pays their rent on time? Is it fair to expect sixteen- and seventeen-year olds to have the sensibility to realize that just because a college offers a degree program does not mean that it’s going to be of any real value to you after graduation?

I can’t be the only English major on here, so someone please help me out of this black hole.

I’d love to to hear some takes on this from people with all sorts of educational backgrounds! I’ll go back to my regularly scheduled browsing through jobs tomorrow morning, but it is nice to stop and have a giant “what the absolute heck” moment once in a while.

Also here’s a picture of what is – I kid you not – the most valuable thing I have to to show for all of my college loan debt.

This performance is my clown-ing achievement. *cries*

PS: I know there’s no point in getting hung up on “I should’ve done this thing differently!” I’m also very grateful that I’m where I am in life right now. In that respect, I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m just pondering the whole idea of certain liberal arts degrees, and wondering if we could help younguns make more informed decisions about higher education and what’s worth their time (and debt) – that is all! Cheers 🙂