Thursday, December 17, 2009
If I could do it all over again, life, college, career edition
I graduated from a small liberal arts college in the summer of 2006 with a degree in Art History and English, and vague ideas about some kind of artsy-fartsy employment. My work experience up to that point, while broad – I had been a babysitter, cashier, sales associate, temp, dental assistant, admin assistant, gopher, intern, and server – was lacking in depth. So was my college education, turns out.
I imagined working as a graphic designer or editorial assistant, but to do anything vaguely skilled, I would need to know the programs that were integral to their processes, yet I knew none, or I would need writing samples – would my John Donne final paper work? By this point, my student loans were coming due and I had rent to pay. You know the thing they always say about how getting a job, ANY job, is all about who you know? It’s true. I fell into this job through my cousin’s friend. And I took it because it was the first one I was offered. The plan was to work here a year, all the while “figuring it all out” from the safety of a cash-padded bank account, then make my escape.
At the time of posting, I have been working as a legal assistant for 3 years, 6 weeks, and 1 day. What happened to figuring it all out? Life, mostly. Life happens everyday, and it happens quickly. I don’t love my job, and honestly, I rather hate it (gasp!). Not only do I get zero fulfillment out of it, but when you WILL yourself to stay at a hateful job with hateful people, it invites a steady creep of negativity into other areas of life. Before you know it, you’ve developed all kinds of unhealthy habits to compensate… and you thought drinking, smoking, spending, and eating were fun in moderation? Meanwhile, you become an intensely miserable bastard – you’re depressed, you’re fat, you’re jaded, and you have a certain sense of learned helplessness that’s pathetic. And where did all the time go?
If I could do it all over again, I’d go to a big state school that taught applied skills (architecture, graphic design, etc.). I’d have worked out a career track in high school. I’d have figured out what I was passionate about and pursued it with reckless abandon, instead of wasting time worrying about what people thought of me, or what everyone expected me to do. I would’ve remembered that my body is an integral part of mySELF, and while physical activity may seem like a hold-over from the Stone Age, it’s vital and beneficial. I’d remember my self-worth.
I know I’m still relatively young and have some time to recoup my career (and personal) losses, but the market has ensured that I’ll stay in my current position for a while longer, despite the fact that I’m actively seeking other employment (cross your fingers for me). For this holiday season, all I want is a little chance for a do-over. Sure, a bonus would be nice, but I won’t hold my breath. Just a new job, a new start, please.
And to everyone reading, stay happy, stay healthy, and stay hungry.