My stress level the past few weeks has been slightly through the roof. I love my new job working in development for the non-profit I’ve been at for nearly three years, but it’s truly the first time since I started here in 2008 that I’ve felt like a fish out of water. Or a mediocre swimmer treading water. Or something about water.
It’s not that it’s that hard or I’m that slow, it’s just a lot to pick up at one time. New people, procedures, software, databases, a whole new focus that has very little to do with my publications background. It’s refreshing and challenging and frustrating all at the same time. In a good way.
So as this week drags on and I try to keep my head above water and get a million and one things done I can’t help but miss Saturday Lauren who sat on the lawn at Nissan Pavilion (it will always be Nissan to me) content and carefree.
We were so excited — we got there early and got to see The Band Perry and Luke Bryan before the main act. Luke Bryan was awesome. He covered Taylor Swift and best of all Enter Sandman in the middle of a song. I jumped and screamed and got goosebumps and yearned for Lane Stadium.
And then there was the man himself. Tim McGraw.
Now I’ve never been an especially huge fan of Tim McGraw, but after staring at him and singing with him last Saturday night I was so, so happy.
It had been a long day and I was pretty tired (see above) but so happy. Thanks Mom for the tickets and Jessie for being my date.
Oh and thank you Barrs for coming straight from a day of car shopping!
Now I just want to go back to that lawn with those people and loud music.
I haven’t interviewed for a job in three years, so when I read The Oatmeal’s comic about crappy interviewees, I started to wonder which one I was three years ago. I did get to a point of unemployment that pushed me close to the edge of desperate, after all. But the good news is, I don’t think I was any of the following:
In college, if you had to make small talk (which I tend to believe was pretty rare), then you talked about your major. If your major was common or if you weren’t that into it, you talked about your extracurricular involvement or your part-time job or the internship you had last summer that inspired you toward a certain potential career path.
Hugh and I went to a gathering at his coworkers’ house last weekend and Hugh was the only person there I’d ever met. With every introduction to a new person, whether immediately or after answering “how do you know so-and-so?”, the question always showed up:
What do you do?
I really should work on a better definition of what I do.
Normally I start out with, I’m in publishing.
The natural response is, That’s so cool! or Oh really?! Books, magazines, or what?!
Actually, scientific publishing. A peer-review academic journal; a scholarly journal; like the kind of research you cite in term papers… is what I usually say.
Now, at this particular gathering I was talking to mostly financial types. Some CPAs, some folks who work with the Fed, some people who were into investments. This is all over my head. And as far as I know, as soon as they hear me say I’m in publishing, I’m instantly less cool than everyone else who works with millions of dollars in budgets and Excel spreadsheets and receipts every day.
I really should work on hyping what I do for a living.
At social gatherings recently, conversations turn into networking opportunities. The topic of conversation at happy hour on a Thursday is what you spent 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. doing that day. We talk about the tasks we do, the people we work with, the opportunities afforded to us or not. We used to talk about attending (or not attending) a 10:10 a.m. class and how we still planned to get whatever grade we needed. We talked about who ruined the curve and how crazy the pop quiz was. We liberal arts majors talked about the subject matter of our classes, often passionately, to business or engineering majors who baffled us with talk of numbers and use of vocabulary we’d never encountered.
If, at 24 or so, we’re using our jobs and degrees and future aspirations — essentially our resumes — to make small talk, what’s next?
How long have you been married?
Oh, you’re expecting your second?
Did you get a good rate on your mortgage?
I’m looking at an active living retirement community also.
Do you golf?
I’m not ready for any of those questions yet.
I majored in communication and I work in publishing. Let’s just talk about that.
Growing up, my parents (the world’s best) made it clear that there is nothing you can’t do. Something may be difficult, inconvenient or exhausting, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Mom often reminds me of how hard she worked at multiple jobs to get through college, while maintaining great grades. Dad had to walk uphill both ways (with no feet!) to get to school, but he did it. Well, that may be an exaggeration.
But the point is that, when I’m thinking about being grateful for my job, I often feel grateful to have a job that I can do. There are a million jobs out there that I could do (because I could do anything) but it would be a struggle. For example:
Dental Hygenist, Shampoo Assistant, or Nurse
Being in other people’s personal space for a living would take some toughening up. While I used to think it would be awesome to be a dentist — inspired by my own mandibular ups and downs — I’ve come to realize that I may just not have the stomach for digging around in strangers’ mouths. The idea that my parents used to deal with Dylan and me wiggling, pulling and yanking out our teeth makes my skin crawl. I admire nurses who are fine with finding veins and poking them with needles, but my skin crawls again. A shampoo assistant is probably the most feasible in this list for me, but I’d still rather not scratch scalps other than my own.
Having my own pet that I love, I can’t understand how people are able to do things to animals like take their temperature, hold them forcefully to clip their nails or — I hate to even say this — put them down. I think my heart would be broken every day.
Excel spreadsheets? Numbers? Formulas? Rules and regulations? 90-hour work weeks? I’m sure I could learn the very basics necessary to be an accountant, but the four-part CPA exam would probably take me years and many, many attempts to pass. I admire those of you who have framed CPA licenses hanging on your walls. I admire you and I do not envy you. And I thank you for being so financially intelligent.
I love driving, and I even love driving large vehicles. But I don’t think I would last months on the road. Well, maybe with a good passenger? And maybe if my truck was full of grilled cheeses and chocolate?
While I respect what Elle Woods did for blondes everywhere, and I happen to be a Reese Witherspoon fan, and I can enjoy a good argument here and there, I couldn’t see myself arguing when someone’s livelihood is at stake. And defense attorneys? No way I’d be able to defend someone I knew was guilty — even if all they did was flick someone on the forehead.
Picturing myself in jobs that I would not enjoy has helped my Lenten commitment to stop complaining. (Yes I realize it’s only day 2). I can imagine how much complaining I’d want to do if I flossed 56 dirty sets of teeth every day and it’s not a pretty thought. It also brings much needed perspective to this formative era of twentysomethinghood in which career development is a constant hot topic and often an open-ended question.
What are some jobs you couldn’t or wouldn’t want to do?