I was an obnoxiously good student in school. I thought it was the best way to set myself up for success. I skipped out on parties and read the “optional” assignments. I worked and interned and studied and learned and finally, it happened.
I graduated. I got hired. I was so super ready. This is what I had prepped for!
I accepted a position as an account executive at an incredible tech company in the heart of San Francisco. In my book I had made it. Fresh out of college I had landed a job where I would get to utilize my communication skills, connect with people, and make a lot of money doing it!
Training began, I was rapt with attention. I took every opportunity to network. I went out for happy hours, I picked the brains of the best people in the company. I read the training manual back to front and filled a notebook with tips and tricks. Then I failed.
I failed! In three months I made one sale. That’s right. One. I spent eight hours every day calling and emailing people and after 90 days only one of those people had been compelled enough to purchase something from me. I watched my teammates evolve into effective salespeople. They were supportive and kind to me as I struggled to improve but it became harder and harder to celebrate their success knowing I would go back to my desk just to fail again.
My manager told me I was fine. He believed in me just like my team did. My friends and family were all supportive. I started to feel crazy. Was I failing? I wanted to leave this job and never come back, but did that make me a quitter?
I was inspired this week by a brand new blogger joining my WordPress reading list. Check out Reluctant Fit Girl’s blog, you won’t regret it.
Her honest discussion of her fitness journey made me realize that I have been carrying a lot of guilt about my own fitness. I’ve posted many times about my love of running, how I fell in love with running, and the trials of my first race. I ran all through college to the point where I just was a runner. Running was a part of my identity because it was part of my everyday life.
The fitness I achieved through running made me fearless. I went to acro yoga, rock climbed, ran up trails I once could barely walk. I skiied and ran through different countries. I was fit and invincible.
Then my everyday life changed. I graduated college and between moving and searching for a job, running fell by the wayside. It would wave at me sadly as I zoomed back and forth in my “I must prove I’m a grown up” car. I promised the sad little runner in me that things would change once I had a job.
I got a job! I started commuting, working eight hours, then commuting home. The adjustment was exhausting and by then, making excuses not to run was a lot easier than running. I went to the gym a couple times a week. I did some pilates. I called things “good enough.”
Then life fell apart. I hated my job, I missed my family and my home. I wound up on the couch, unemployed, and feeling heavy in more ways than one.
With so much time on my hands I ran out of excuses. So I ran. It sucked. The strong, muscled legs I spent months building had softened into curves that weighed me down more than they carried me forward. My lungs fired back, “what are we DOING?! I thought we gave up exercise! We should be watching Netflix right now.”
Despite the arguments my body put up, I went, everyday. Some days I couldn’t run from being sore, so I walked. With those slow, labored steps, the heaviness began to melt away. I remembered how powerful I can be when I work for it. I stopped numbing my feelings with piles of junk food because I was unwilling to slog through running after a McDonald’s dinner the next day.
Don’t get me wrong, running still sucks. Not running just sucks more. So I run, reluctantly.
2015 was a crazy year. It kicked off with my return from studying abroad and ended with college graduation and a move to a brand new state. I’m grateful for this year of learning and change as I reflect back on it. At the same time, I am so ready to start 2016 on a blank page. 2015 brought new opportunities and new challenges. I was welcomed into a new family while having to miss out on milestones and events with my own family back home. This year marked the first one where I spent Christmas away from my family, my first year of not going back to school shopping. I had my first big kid job and learned that where you work isn’t just about the money you make. 2015 was hard and I would say more bitter than sweet not only for me but for many of the people that I love.
All of that being said, I am so grateful for the change that 2015 has inspired. Through the struggles have come resilience and support. I hope I get to pay that love forward in 2016 as I embark to create the life I dreamed about while still in college.
My dream behind being an English major was to graduate and work as an editor or writer. Upon leaving school and realizing how challenging of a field this is to break into I told myself that it might not happen, and that would be ok. It’s not though. I would say the biggest lesson I learned in 2015 is that you should choose the work you’ll do for 40 hours a week wisely. An unwise choice can lead to a lot of unhappiness.
To create the space for this new work that I want to do, I’ll be launching a second blog. It will be dedicated to book reviews, editing practices, and general book nerdiness.
As my final note, I would like to thank every one of you who takes time out of your day to read this blog. I appreciate you. Here’s to a year of exciting new projects! Stay tuned.
Regardless of the ho-hum responsibilities of being an adult, I go starry-eyed over the holidays every single year. I still believe there’s magic in these last months before a yearly chapter closes.
That magic inspired this newest glimpse.
Even the whip of the wind couldn’t unwind her bun. She shivered slightly at the silky feeling of the cold air rushing through her tights. Tendrils of hair danced across her forehead as she turned to look down the street. She jiggled her legs to fight off the stiffness that had come rolling in with the cold.
The walk sign finally clicked on and she stepped off of the curb. The man next to her staggered slightly as he crossed and she fought down a smile as she sidestepped and paused in time to his footsteps; dance partners in the street.
Two eight-counts and one right pivot brought her to the top of the subway steps. She winced slightly as her weight pressed into her right ankle. That’s what she got for working on fouetté turns all morning without rolling out her ankles.
She popped her headphones in as she started down the steps, the melodies of Tchaikovsky blending with the tap tap tap of her feet on the stairs and the deeper reverberations of the trains rolling in.
Waiting on the platform she began to hum, gently pressing her heels up and out over her toes as the music took her over. She almost missed the flashing red letters of her train’s arrival, nearly falling as she pulled her foot out of its pointed position to dash onto the train.
Safely aboard, she found a splinter of a spot and pressed herself into it. Humming to her music once more under her breath. She inhaled the man’s cologne in front of her. She smiled at the strangeness of smelling a man that didn’t reek of sweat and foot-covered floors and moldy costumes.
His eyes darted sideways at the feeling of her smile and he shuffled further away from her.
She dropped her eyes and tuned back in as “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” played up on her iPod. Eyes slowly closing, she drifted back into her world.
Sparkles glinted behind her eyelids, she spun, poised upon her right toes. She was light as a feather, sparkles and tulle, the bright studio light fell into her eyes as she spun. She didn’t flinch. Her feet knew how to find the floor again. Her knees ached as she leaned to sweep her fingers across the ribbon of her slippers. Ignoring her knees, she sprung back up on her toes, bringing her arms above her head.
Light as air, delicate as sugar, she spun and spun…
I was desperate to escape my hometown. Through high school, and college, I counted down the days until I could leave for a new city and a new life.
When the time came to go, I paused at the thought of leaving my friends, my family, and the place I grew up in. I assured myself that the new opportunities of a new place would be worth it.
California has been my dream since I was a child. It was finally time to make it my home. Amidst a new job, new apartment, new streets, and new people, I began to crave something familiar. With all the sadness of the past few months, of leaving home behind and all of the tragedies happening abroad– I sought comfort in the one place that always makes my world feel ok.
Baker’s Beach was everything I imagined California would be. It was beautiful. Sunny, with a light breeze, the waves crashed against its sand with a satisfying crush and spray. Around one corner the Golden Gate Bridge peeked.
Families giggled and picnicked. One couple even posed for wedding photos, him– the image of gratitude, she– radiant in lucky Chinese red. It was a perfect place.
And it wasn’t mine. It may have been a piece of the same ocean I grew up loving, but gone were the tattered edges of the earth I loved. Instead stood million dollar homes with Range Rover sentinels in their driveways. These earthly edges had been polished and rounded to be as perfect in appearance as the wealth that surrounded them.
It was then I realized, I can’t go home again. By leaving that place behind there is a part of me that was lost at sea, never to be found again. Home is now somewhere new. My Oregon beaches will continue to change with the wind and water.
I missed Monday Musing this week because frankly, I was too exhausted to muse. However, one of my new ideas for Education Epic 2.0 is to do more creative writing here.
I recently had the pleasure of reading A Series of Small Maneuvers by Eliot Treichel (which I highly recommend). I was inspired by Treichel’s innate ability to convey a character’s personality and back story in a manner of paragraphs. So I created an exercise to write “micro-portraits” of my own. Here’s my first shot at it!
A Professor, Noted
Professors are similar to mythical creatures. They carry an ethereal wisdom of the ages. They never seem quite able to blend into their surrounding peers. Forever they are set apart by their uniquely curious minds. Unable to hide their eccentricity, their very beings seem to draw the opposite of curiosity. Like Clark Kent, their powers lie disguised behind everyday garb.
Which is why it was strange to notice him.
He sat with a sigh on the train seat. The florescent lights glinted off the edge of his thick-lensed glasses. His white hair gleamed almost as brightly as the glass window framing it. Neatly combed, it still thickly covered his head and surrounded his face in such a way that exposed his nose as particularly bulbous. All the better for his glasses to perch on.
His khaki pants barely crinkled as he creakily bent his knees. He was starched with love. From his neatly pressed sweater vest to his perfectly pointy collar, his outfit was one crafted by the hands of a woman who had dressed the same man for years.
The olive tone of his vest brought out the gold flecks in his eyes– the ones she must look forward to seeing each morning.
His clothing wasn’t the only testament to her love. His wedding band fit comfortably on his finger. It had been adjusted to accommodate the swelling of his hands over the years. It shone out as a promise often renewed and not yet forgotten.
In fact the only thing he carried that seemed worn at all was the bag at his feet. Scuffed and soft, the leather clung together by the clasps. He pulled a black item from it. Switched on, the black words on the screen appeared on the surface of his glasses.
The light of the reading tablet stung his eyes and he held it out towards his knee as if he could dull the onslaught of technology on his senses if he just didn’t hold it quite so close. At one point he wetted the tip of his finger against his lip, then paused right before using it on the screen. An old habit rooted in paper and ink, interrupted by time.
His eyes, already close together, seemed to grow closer as the ride drew on. Finally, with a slight grunt of annoyance, he relinquished the device back into the beat up bag.
Pulling an iPhone from his pocket, he stared at it for a moment, seemingly confused about how it arrived in his hand in the first place.
The sunlight that had faded through the ride, burst through as the train rumbled out of the last tunnel. With a sigh the professor gazed down at the dancing dust casting shadows on his Oxford leather shoes. Then rose with the others as the train doors slid open onto a suburban expanse, awash in the last colors of the day.
I hope you enjoyed this character glimpse! I’d love to see other people flexing their character creation skills. Share your thoughts here or post your own with #glimpsedcharacters.
Mondays are the worst. Everyone knows that. I’m reminded of this each and every Sunday eve as I prep the weekly grocery list and groan over having to decide what I’m going to wear to work tomorrow.
Every time this day rolls around, I wonder– is there an escape from these “Sunday blues”? I’ve met a person or two who seems to be immune. Their jobs make them smile and they are completely content with the knowledge that they will have to leave their homes and head off to their jobs when the weekend draws to a close.
How do you become one of these people? As far as I can tell, you do what you love. You must find what makes you happy and then do it in a way that allows you the luxury to live off of that.
Imagine waking up every day knowing you’d get paid to do what you love.
What better motivation could there be for a Monday? I know my attention paid to my blog has been anything but impressive lately. Life became a whirlwind of moving, job searching, and adjusting to life as a real grown up.
To be honest, I’m not impressed. I have a job that most people would kill for with a trendy technology company. I don’t hate it. I also don’t love it.
I studied English in college because I dreamed of becoming a lawyer, and then stuck with it because my dream changed to include becoming a person who facilitated the sharing of stories. I didn’t make it into either of those jobs. Yet.
So now, this is my commitment to work towards a Monday I won’t groan about. My hope is that sharing my stories and failures along the way will inspire someone else to get motivated and create a Monday they don’t have to dread.
From today forward, Monday is the motivation, not the thing to dread. Every one of these is a chance to spend another week building something worth waking up for.