I got on Facebook yesterday, and the first thing that popped up was a memory. Two years ago yesterday, December 17, 2014, I finished my last final and finished college.
I finished college…and started my job search. It was a long, arduous process. But I’ve already said enough about that, to be completely honest.
When I set out to find my post college life, I didn’t know it would take so long. I remember a conversation I had with my manager at Old Navy, where I argued that I didn’t want to take a promotion that would have lasted 6 weeks, because I didn’t want to get into the training, only to quit because I got a new job. My manager looked at me, and said, “Yeah, it will definitely take you longer than 6 weeks to find a job.” At the time, I was completely taken aback because I thought she was so beyond rude.
Well…she was, but she was also completely right.
My job search helped me become a different person than who I was. I think it changed me for the both the better and the worse. I became more patient, pushed myself more than I thought, learned that I have a lot more perseverance than I ever thought was possible in a person, and learned how to exist solely in “survival mode”. All of these things helped me develop as a person, and changed me for the better.
But I wasn’t always impacted for the good.
I don’t know if this happened for real (read as: outside of my head or just inside in my head. See also: if other people noticed it, or if I was the only one), but, I think something in me changed during my whole job hunt process. Something grew up, something became almost more hardened.
Let me explain, with an example from high school. I was riding the bus home from school one day, with one of my friends and some random boy. We were trying to get him to guess which one of us was older. (I think my friend is like 3 weeks older than me) The boy looked back and forth between the two of us, multiple times, before coming to a conclusion. He looked at my friend and told her that she was older because I looked so much younger, so much more naive. I just had a different brightness to my eyes that made me look naive.
That comment weighed on me for quite some time. I didn’t want to look not naive, but I also didn’t want to be looked at, and treated, like a child. I didn’t want to lose that brightness from my eyes, but I didn’t want to be stuck in childhood forever. I learned pretty quickly that the only way to lessen the brightness in my eyes was to live life and gain more experience.
I needed to live more “street”, if you will.
Oh my goodness that was such a bad joke, I feel so stupid, but I still laughed.
Anyway. Anyway anyway anyway. Moving right along.
As I started my job hunt, I remember being the embodiment of that brightness, that naivety, in my eyes. I was so excited to get started with my search, so excited to see what the world could offer me, so excited to show the world what I could offer it.
As the weeks turned into months, and it became harder and harder to keep going, I noticed that I wasn’t excited anymore, and I lost the majority of that brightness. I don’t think my eyes looked as naive and young anymore. (Not that it was a big deal, considering I was still the ripe age of 23) I do know that it was one of the more striking changes I saw in myself. I was more patient, but I also wasn’t expecting as much. I pushed myself more, but almost to the point of exhaustion and giving up. I learned a lot about perseverance, but I didn’t want to persevere anymore. I was changed for the better, but when my search finally came to a close, I was ready for it to be over.
I suppose that is a fitting ending to my search. When I had given up all hope of ever finding anything, something found me.
I’ve now been at my current job since September 2015. It has been a wonderful job for me. I’ve learned and matured so much, more than I thought I needed when I first started. I’ve been able to grow a lot faster and take on more responsibilities than I think anyone thought I would be given in my first year in this position.
I’ve still made more than my fair share of mistakes, and I’m still a little naive at times, but I’m learning to handle those moments with more grace, which is always a good thing.
My job has also been hard and not fun at times, but I’ve used my recently honed perseverance to come through those times, and tried to take as much learning from them as I can.
I’ve tried so hard to get that brightness back in my eyes. I think I can say it is back, with a different sheen. It’s not so much a naivety now, but a happiness that I’ve had to fight for. It’s a sheen of the happy person that I was all through college and who was there in flashes between January 2015 and September 2015.
Ok ok ok. This all sounds incredibly dramatic, and that isn’t the intent. The intent is to recognize that my job search impacted me positively, and I am able to pick out those positive moments. But I want you to realize that it was not always roses. I want you to realize that I don’t think it was always roses. I know that my job search impacted me negatively at times. I want to recognize that there were multiple sides to my search. I’ve done a wonderful job of highlighting the weird, and the negative at times, but for every weird experience, there was also a good experience or good thing I learned.
As I close my Stories of the Job Hunt series, I want to emphasize the point that I worked hard at everything, sometimes not well, while I was searching for a job, and eventually the thing that I so badly wanted was realized. All I wanted was a job. I didn’t think I would meet so many rejections, so many characters, get so many stories, get so many interviews, get my hopes up so high, get so low, learn so much about myself, or rely so much on my friends and family.
I’ve said it before, I will say it again, and I will scream it until I am blue in the face, but I am glad for these experiences and I am infinitely more grateful for my wonderful friends and family who stuck with me during the most trying time of my entire life. We did it, y’all. You all helped me more than you will ever realize. Thank you. Thank you all so much. I sort of feel like the little green men from Toy Story 2. “You have saved our lives, we are eternally grateful.”
So long, Stories of the Job Hunt. You’ve taught me so much about how to conduct both myself, and an interview. And that is pretty cool, I guess.