motivational monday.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Since my job had ended in November of last year I have basically lived off of my savings, but after internship expenditures, rising gas prices, and my expensive taste, my finances had started wearing thin. So thin that by June I would have basically had zippo, nill -- better known as totally and completely broke territory. So I applied to places-- no "real" jobs as I'm starting grad school in August and really just wanted to be a mindless drone stocking shelves, keeping my head down, & expanding my piggy bank all summer. I finally heard back from one place-- after literally applying everywhere I could bear to work--a local movie theater, and went dressed in my best casual interview wear (for $10 an hour- per my expected wage, as a cashier I may as well dress up and show my best customer service smile, right?). After finally talking about how great it was during the interview, the manager casually interjected that I would be working concessions at $7.70 and hour for only 5 and a half hour shifts. And that's when it hit me. Hard.
There I was, showing up to an interview in a blazer to work with plastic cheese and popcorn for not even 8 hour shifts for less than I had ever been paid in my 6 years of working part time jobs. Was this what I was going to be forced to do after I just spent 4 years busting my butt in college? Student loans, internships, years of retail experience reduced to reheating pizzas and asking a customer if they would like to upgrade their order for $.25 more? I have nothing against such jobs but my main frustration lied in the fact that after all of that hard work and years of busting my butt I'd expected... something more.
I accepted the job, because I had to-- no one else was going to pay my bills. A rock formed in my stomach and I cried the entire way home out of frustration. Where the hell was my break?

Last week, after a painful, painful dreary morning, the usual life dramatics, and a particularly low period where storm clouds were, literally, following me around for days, maybe even weeks, I got an out-of-nowhere email from my internship hiring manager asking me all of these really specific questions about school ending, finals, etc. and being very vague about why. As I walked toward my car it hit me, "holy crap was this a job offer of some sort!?" I looked up and noticed the rain had stopped and the sun was getting brighter behind the gray clouds (this is actually not some kind of literary embellishment either!). A break from the storm, maybe? Seriously?
It was nice to actually feel worth more than a paper hat, to feel worth something in general-- to feel that something I had worked hard at had actually paid off. To feel something other than another rejection email from being "too qualified" or based on nothing at all. Was there a little bit of confidence being awoken with that email?

After talking further about the opportunity and sending in writing samples-- 1 of them being this blog (which I could not be more proud of), here I am. I started today. No words in the English language can describe how I'm feeling as a type this. Ecstatic? Excited? Over the moon? Still not enough. I almost went into full on happy panic attack mode when I was told I got the position. Me? Little old me? Who would sit in the back corner, do her work for hours, and blend into the brick wall? I had actually stood out amongst the other social butterflies I worked with? I was speechless. It's one thing to get out of a bad situation, it's another to get an open door, a confidence boost, and a ton of worth all in one day.

Truth be told I was petrified during most of my internship-- literally feeling my heart jump into my throat everyday that I went in, afraid I would mess it all up or be so completely unknowledgeable that everyone would realized how useless I was. I had changed majors so quickly, then immediately thrust into the world to work on it and had 0 confidence in any and all work I had done in the field. I felt undereducated, underqualified, and all around beneath every other intern I worked with/next to. But I tried my best. To my utmost ability. I couldn't let my inability show. & I never, in a million and 3 years, ever thought I would hear back from them. Never thought my work made a difference. Or mattered. Or stood out. Or really expressed who I was.

And here I am. Maybe they saw the potential in my caterpillar-esque character. Or maybe I was exceeding expectations without even knowing it. Either way, never think that you are below someone else. Or don't have the potential to be. Or don't have the knowledge that others around you do. Do your best, work your hardest, and don't ever, EVER let anyone tell you that hard work doesn't pay off. Ever. I literally had no confidence whatsoever in my work but I did the best that I could possibly do and, clearly, it was worth something. Everything is a stepping stone-- whether it be to your dream job or an escape for the summer or the 5 second ego boost that reminded you how amazing you really are. You may think that what you're doing is worthless or that internships and part time job opportunities mean nothing, but if someone sees your potential and you leave a mark through your work, good things will happen. You really never know who is watching you kick ass and thinking "wow, I want this person on my team"--I know this now because it really had to happen to me for me to even realize that busting your butt really is working toward something-- you may just not notice sometimes.

And I get it, after weeks, months, even years of rejection, you start to believe that you really aren't worth anything. That you did it all for nothing. Don't lose hope. It'll hit you on the head. It'll be that sun that comes and rescues you the second you forget how amazing you are. And you are. If you have ambition and drive and are the one believing you aren't worth much, odds are you are worth quite a lot. More than a lot. A ton.  Sometimes you just have to believe it. Because it will pay off. Whether it's tomorrow or 2 years from now. Someone will notice you. Will remember you. Will go, "that's my guy!" and swoop you up and remind you that having ambition really does make a difference. Don't lose faith!

If you would have told me a week ago that I'd be where I am now I would have actually laughed in your face. Me? Out of everyone? No.Way. Ever. But here I am. Working. And I won't lie, my heart's still in my throat, but more in a just-before-the-rollercoaster-drops kind of a way: the scary thrill of the unexpected, mixed with (dare I say) confidence-- that I actually gained a place in the world through my efforts. Without paper hats or plastic cheese. In a blazer. & not feeling stupid for it one bit.

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