Sunday, June 25, 2017

Occupations


I was driving home with the top down, wind whipping my hair back and forth across my forehead and cheeks. I was concentrating on my driving, but in the back of my mind, all I could think about was writing to You.

You have no idea how much time I spend thinking about it; thinking about the things I want to tell You lest I forget them myself. I've said it before and I'll say it again and again. The best way to describe the way it feels inside my head. I am either living in Momento or I am living in Limitless. I'll let you decide which state is more palatable.

The thing I was thinking about as I drove home was about jobs. Occupations. Careers. Vocations. Central at the core to my oft felt misery is my life-long search for what it is I am supposed to be doing. With my life.

I have no spouse, no children, no house, not even a dog anymore. I do not even own a plant. So, my responsibilities seem sparse and I should be a foot loose and fancy free thirty-something. But, the way I feel is different. 


I feel burdened by the ghosts of life elements that do not yet exist, haunted by phantom abscesses in the fabric of my life story. What that leaves behind is a big roomy crater with one thing that I do have to fill it. I gots me a job.

Hello, my name is Susan, and I am a CHANEL Counter Manager at Macy's. Would you like to try a sample of our most popular fragrance? You can also save 20% if you open up a store card...

I have a job. I am lucky to have a job and so fortunate to have employee benefits like healthcare and paid time off. I have friends at my job. I work with good people. You could say that I have a fun job, and somedays I do have fun. This is what I do. I wear a sparkly black coat and I help people (mostly women) feel better about themselves. Not a bad gig, as long as I stand on my feet and smile.

I've had many jobs. Once upon a time I cleaned church toilets. I took care of babies (different job), and I served people food. Then, I launched into a string of jobs with words like:
  • Branding 
  • Strategy 
  • Qualitative 
  • Executive 
  • Rhinoceros (it was part of a 'Network Marketing' job)

I've also been involved with words like:
  • Unemployment 
  • COBRA 
  • Networking  
  • Can't manage to get out of bed and will wear pjs all day 

So far, I've had all these jobs, careers, even (Advertising, Market Research), but, like so many people, I have yet to find a vocation. I learned what the word 'Vocation' meant during my Senior year of college when I went on a retreat to Whidbey Island off the coast of Seattle, Washington. It was a woodsy place where we all wrote poems and walked in a labyrinth (a real one, not metaphorical), and we never wore makeup. I'm pretty sure that, at the time, I thought I would eventually become an Artist. I was an Art Major, and that was back when I thought that your vocation had to match the title of your college degree.

That was back when I knew nothing about the technological feats to come, like MySpace (ha!) and Friendster and Facebook and LinkedIn, when my life and Your life would become open books for all the world to see, to judge, to ooo, ahhh, and, let's not forget, 'Like.'

I write a lot about Social Media because I think I still have sort of mild PTSD from that fateful fall in 2006 when I logged on for the first time to a special networking site that had been created by this Harvard kid and it would let you connect to other people you know and "see" what they were doing with their lives. After selecting my profile photo and filing out some questions about my favorite books and movies, I was SHOCKED to find high school peers who already were married (!) owned houses (!) and (this one stung the most) had Masters Degrees. I remember sitting at my little studio apartment desk, choking on my own sense of competitive spirit, and realizing that there are a lot more than letter jackets and sweet sixteen new cars to be envied out there in the world. 

What was I doing at the time? I was traveling all over the country, doing this kick ass market research job, in no way aware of how good I had it. I would go on to travel in Russia, Brazil, India, and China and do this for six years, really making it as a world traveler who basically asked people questions about their lives then created beautiful presentations of what they told us.  

Somehow I allowed myself to be lured by a recruiter into the world of Advertising, and I always felt like a fraud in AdLand. I gained valuable skills and had lots of fun swearing in the middle of meetings at work. I got to move to Chicago and reinvent myself and it was victorious. And then...and then. Life happened, I got married and unmarried, my dad died, I lost my confidence, I left ChiTown and went back home to Minnesota, licking my wounds. I got a big corporate sales job and felt every day that I was about to be found out and hauled off the premises in hand cuffs. I tried working for myself as a freelancer and I didn't have the balls to get paid. Too Norwegian nice, perhaps. 

And then, I got this job. The job I have now, putting makeup on people's faces and wearing a name tag. If you forget to take off your name tag when you go eat lunch, a customer might ask you one of a hundred possible questions. And, if you are nice, you answer the customer. When I worked on the "client-side" in the beginning I used to look out the window and feel envy toward the gardeners. There was a woman in charge of watering flowers on the corporate campus and I wanted to be her so bad. Now, not so sure.

Now, not so sure of anything, really. I know I need money. I have bills, and debt, and the need to not wear pajamas all day. But there is something else. Something I need.

I need a vocation. I need to find my purpose. I need to find something that I do with such ease and conviction that, even though it is challenging, it does not feel like just a job sha la la la, lalalala.

(This is the part where we break out into song and I sing about writing and acting in New York. But then, let's not and say we did. Gotta keep things looking normal here).

Who knows. If I had a hubby and a kid, maybe I'd be like to hell with vocation let's find a good preschool. I do not know. That is the thing, I suppose. We do not know until we get there. Ace the interview, then quit on the third day of working for the world's biggest ad agency cause you're so anxious you might puke. Yes, this happened. Of course it did.

Do You have a vocation? Are you so incredibly fulfilled by your life that it could be an annoying musical? Do share, I want to know what it feels like to have a rock star lifestyle in job land. Until then, please come see me at my makeup counter. We can talk about your dogs / babies / recipes / infidelities... whatever you want.

Workin'
Susan





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