Journey to Professional Validation and Some Thoughts on Settling

Pardon my super serious, long post… For fun crafty things come back tomorrow.

In light of some recent changes in life, I’d like to take some time to reflect and share.

If I were to be completely honest, the last several years have been challenging. It just seemed like there was always something stacked against me and I couldn’t catch a break. Without trying to start a pity party, I just have to say that things were hard.  A huge part of my struggle lied in my career or lack there of really. I feel like I did everything right. I went to college, I graduated and I was ready to pursue a career in a field that was important to me. My heart belonged to the arts. When I decided that I no longer wanted to live out my dream of being a professional stage actress, I felt I found the perfect blend. The creative side of me needed to meet the analytical and logical side. I thought I had it all figured out. I could work in the non-profit arts on the marketing and public relations side, feel like I was making a difference in bringing attention to something that deserved the attention. It made perfect sense to me.

Reality enter stage right…

Graduation doesn’t mean you will get a job.

I spent 5 years, yes 5, working towards a date. That day that I walked across the stage (and tripped on the stairs)  meant everything to me. It meant that I accomplished what I set out to do and the hard work, long nights, sacrifice, and overall dedication would lead me to bigger and better things.

2008 was pretty much the worst time to graduate college with the intent of working in the non-profit arts sector. As you know, the economy went down the toilet along with my carefully crafted plan. In a desperation to get out of retail, I thought sales would be an okay fit for the time being. I never thought that I would be there forever, but I certainly thought that I would be there longer than 9 months when I was laid off.

Cue False Hope and Depression…

I was actually okay with leaving that job, as I wasn’t terribly attached to it. The punch to the stomach happened when I didn’t find anything else. I really thought this was my opportunity to find the job I really wanted and get my foot in the door. God wanted me out of that job and I thought the reason was so I could get on with my life and find a career. When that job never came after months of searching, countless resumes sent and a handful of dead end interviews, I became confused and angry.

In a desperate attempt to find a job and maybe some self satisfaction along the way, I surveyed my list of contacts and found myself having coffee with the Managing Director of Southwest Shakespeare Company. I had done my internship with them a few years before and thought there may be something there for me. Upon our meeting I learned that their Marketing Director was no longer there and the budget was cut so low that no replacement was planned. They were in desperate need of some help. Being that I was out of work and desperately needed something to do aside from scour the online job ads, I offered my services on a volunteer basis. I figured it couldn’t hurt to be more involved with them. I threw myself into this company. I met amazing people, took on more responsibility than I ever anticipated and eventually became their established Marketing Director all for the high salary of tickets to the shows.

Almost four months of unemployment, financial stress and everything that comes with it, I got a call from Target Human Resources Corporate Office. They found my resume on line and offered me an interview for their customer service department call center in Tempe. I knew in that moment, even before the interview that this was to be my future. I aced the interview, only because I could have written it for her. I used to conduct interviews for the company. I sorta had an unfair advantage. The day they offered me the job I accepted, then hung up the phone to cry for the next hour. I wanted nothing to do with this job, but I had to move backwards in order to move forwards.

The job was easy and I succeeded in maintaining great call stats, but everyday I felt a little more robbed of my soul. There is only so much I could take of rude callers and the name calling.

***Side note: Keep your receipt when you shop at Target, read the fine print on your extended warranty and under no circumstances is it ever okay for you to personally insult the person on the other end of the line just doing their job***

I continued my search every day for the year I worked there while still continuing my work at SSC. I was balancing two jobs at this point. One paid that I hated and one not paid that I loved. I hoped everyday that SSC would figure out a way to bring me on full time. It seemed like every time that would become a possibility, it just never worked out. I would get my hopes up, just to be let down.

Once again in a place of desperation I accepted a new job that I convinced myself would be what I wanted. Or at least was one step closer to what I wanted, but once again I found myself in a state of disappointment.

Things started to come up that I had never really thought about, like health insurance and 401k. I realized that I didn’t have a well paying job and I didn’t have a job I really liked. There was no benefit in working here at all. I thought that I could live with one or the other, but neither just wasn’t an option anymore. It had to be either great pay or something I loved to do. There was no benefit at all.

I began to think that I should find a new path and that maybe I wasn’t supposed to do what I thought all along. I was even on the verge of accepting a job with great benefits and pay even though it would move me out of the line of work I was working towards completely.

One job post on the AZ Arts Commission Job Board for Phoenix Theatre changed all of this…

This has happened to me before though. The so-called perfect job comes up and someone else swoops in and snatches it up. Not getting my hopes up, I re-wrote my cover letter and edited about 1,000 times, sent it off and made some calls. I cashed in on some contacts that I had made over the last few years working in theatre and hoped for the best.

I got a call for an interview right away and my heart stopped beating.

My first interview went famously and I was sent home to anxiously await the second one.

The second interview went well, but I had no idea where I stood and therefore I spent the next 3 days in a constant state of panic and anxiety. No joke people, I was literally obsessive and couldn’t stop staring at my phone, just waiting for it to ring. This was possibly the longest 3 days ever.

When the job offer came, once again there were tears. This time it was different.

I have been in my Marketing Coordinator position at Phoenix Theatre for 3 weeks now and I think it has finally hit me.

I have worked so hard for the past 3 years.

I have sacrificed all of my free time to work for a theatre company so that I could be in and around the industry.

I have never given up.

Now, I know this may seem over exaggerated and dramatic, but that is okay. I know this isn’t getting some super high profile job or landing my first book deal. I know this isn’t lots of things, but to me this is the beginning of the professional life I have wanted for so long.

All I have ever really wanted for myself, was the opportunity to go into work each day excited about the work to be done. A place where my ideas are embraced, I can be challenged and the people become family. A place to feel validated and a place to belong all while doing work that matters endlessly to me. I’m not one who can compartmentalize my life into sections. When one part is wrong, everything else is wrong too. I feel so blessed that I’m where I am now and I finally feel like I can give myself permission to plant my feet and be happy. So many other things have fallen into place now too.

I know that God had a very specific plan for me and giving me this job right out of college wouldn’t have served anyone. This means the world to me and I know that Phoenix Theatre will reap the benefits of my dedication.

I have met so many wonderful people at my other jobs and I am so very grateful for their friendship, but I can’t help but think how things may have been different it I had just settled for something less than what I really wanted. What if I just accepted that the cards I was handed, were the ones I had to have forever. I believe that God puts seasons into our lives and puts us on paths for things bigger than our own wants and desires, but he also never helps those who aren’t willing to help themselves. I prayed everyday that God would put me where I belonged and calm my heart, whatever path that happened to be.  The lessons I learned along the way were ones that I might not have been able to learn any other way and the blessing are abundant now.

My point is to never, never, never settle for anything less than exactly what you want. If you’re not happy with where you are, change it. I’m the first to say that it more than likely will never be easy, unless you’re a lucky one. It will take dedication and sacrifice. It will take patience and searching. For me I would have rather spent the last 3 years working, trying and dreaming to end up here, than to just accept that the job market sucked and I should settle.

I’m in a place that I haven’t been for a long time. A place of deep hope without any trace of desperation and I can only hope that everyone else will find the same whether that be professionally or otherwise.



Filed under Life

3 responses to “Journey to Professional Validation and Some Thoughts on Settling

  1. I realllyyyyy enjoyed this post…it so accurately captured the struggle of being a college student and trying to find your niche. I’m so happy you found your place. I found mine too. It feels amazing, and there’s not a single day that passes that I’m not thankful I found it.

    • Thank you so very much for reading this. I really went back and forth on whether I wanted to do this post, but it just felt strange to move on without putting it out there. I’m so grateful for my journey.

  2. Wow! A big congrats, lady! So many people I know are in the boat you were in before you got your new job. It really IS SOOOO hard to get a job in a lot of fields right out of school (especially any of the arts fields). I’m still trying to decide what I want to be when I “grow up” since the crash of the journalism world in 2008 pretty much wiped out job options. But, now that I’ve realized I love food so much, I am hoping it will take me in a fun new direction.

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