This Wednesday marks my one-year anniversary with my current employer. And this is huge for me.
[Why is it huge? Every 27-year-old has had a one-year anniversary somewhere.] Except me. The last time I celebrated a one-year with a company, I was riding the elevator down with a box in hand and little prospect of a next step.
It wasn’t that I wasn’t career-minded or ambitious, more so, I just wasn’t very good at a lot of things. I tried my hand at marketing long enough to realize most agencies aren’t going to pay you ‘the big bucks’ for million-dollar ad ideas, but rather, pay you moderate bucks to send hundreds of emails baiting clients with (often empty) promises to meet impossible deadlines. I did copywriting long enough to know I had poor technical skills and an overzealous attitude toward adjectives and modifications — to an editor’s dismay. Sure, I had some commercial success with viral blogposts on Thought Catalog or Elite Daily, but my introspective writing paid absolutely nothing. And like every millennial trying to pay rent and appear marketable to an employer, I sold my soul to social media for a very long time. I landed some success there, but damn, it is hard to give a shit about engagement, likes, pokes, and whatever the hell else is cool these days. I’m not even on social media in my personal life….
Alas, nearly three years after graduation, I found myself asking the same question I was when I was on stage receiving my diploma — what the hell am I suppose to do now?
Once I left my last job in social media, I knew I had to go in a completely new direction. So I racked my brain and Google search engine with questions like, “What should I do,” “Jobs that don’t require attention to detail,” “ENFP job options”, and so forth. My mind wandered to a particular point of exploration, and I asked myself, “What was your favorite job to date?” And I shit you not, the answer was: …working at Regal Cinemas in high school.
[What the — … Why the — ] Yeah, I know. And I met the question with my truth: I loved being kind and helpful, nurturing, and have a clear set of expectations to meet. Working in customer service gave me someone to please and cater to while creating revenue for a business. And I was really good at it. It’s easy to speak to strangers when you know you have what they’re looking for. However, while I was pleased to have garnered some new insight from my introspection, I knew working at the movies for minimum wage was not going to be my next step if I still wanted to keep my apartment. “What job is like customer service but in a business setting?” And I instantly thought of Lauren*. Lauren was the “Happiness Manager” (start-up speak for “Office Manager”) at an employer from a past life. She made work a place people wanted to go to, threw the corporate events, made sure we had lunch each Wednesday, and was the Mama Bear we all leaned on. She seemed to know the answer to everything and had so much influence over the office culture. And those pesky Google searches for answers changed to Google searches for an Office Manager job.
But I’m not here to talk about how I landed the job, or what the job has been like. Instead, I’ve been reflecting on and want to write about the personal and professional development I achieved, and how this year will prove to be a defining era in who I am and the type of character I have from here on out.
I’ll get the superficial, easy stuff out of the way first. Professionally, I went from being a market-specific Office Manager to the Regional Office Experience Manager with a 10% raise and Founder and Leader of our People of Color employee resource group. To put a little self-bragging cherry on top, I am currently in the middle phase of negotiations for my new role, a role I made-up and had approved by the Head of People. It’s this humbling yet empowering feeling to think a year ago I was mopping up the floors after someone spilled juice as if I was working in an adult daycare center (which, I won’t lie, does feel that way sometimes), and now I manage a team of a dozen Office Coordinators and Office Managers around the company. It’s like that quote by C.S. Lewis:
Onto the meatier stuff. The personal development. One year ago today, I was absolutely certain I was destined to be a mass of disappointment. I felt like I was that scattered friend my friends brought up at happy hour and pointed to on the barometer of success and where not to be. I plummeted to a point of believing everyone was smarter than me, everyone was more accomplished than me, and that maybe I would wind up some nomad-beach-bum bartending to tourists and pretending to live in paradise, when really I just missed home. My self-confidence was scarred, and I was desperate to restore it but any means necessary.
Frankly, I have my relationship with Jordan to thank for a lot of the ‘saving’ that went on. The more I sunk into a pit of self-doubt, the tighter he clung to me, pushing me up and making me stand up to my demons even on the days I wanted to surrender. It was a final, unnecessary confirmation he was my person. He never once judged me or dismissed my feelings. He did comfort me and assure me time and time again I was good and headed toward something great.
In the past year, my self-confidence blossomed into something worth guarding. The time in between unemployment and starting my new job, I made one very simple goal for myself: keep it. I had always tried at every job before, but this job felt very different. Maybe it was my focus, maybe it was improved time management, or maybe it was simply I had leaders and people in upper management actually cheering me on and giving me praise. Likely all three and then some. With each win, with each crushed deadline and metric, I felt myself come back to life. Confidence filled my body, happiness filled my heart. The less I resembled someone scattered and unsure, the more I began to believe in myself. And the more I believed in myself, the more I conquered. Success began to feel effortless. Well — it was and is a hell of a grind, but I don’t have the same kind of anxiety, because my anxiety is no longer about me anymore. If I’m nervous, I’m nervous because something is outside of my control. (Which comes with its own obstacles, haha. Another time for that.)
I’m very proud of the woman I’m becoming; someone more vocal, professionally assertive, dependable, and intelligent. I find myself believing I am the woman I pray to be when I recite my daily affirmations. I am more receptive to feedback and criticism (still have a long way to go), and I have a lower tolerance for the bullshit or feeling I need to bullshit to keep a job. This past year has proven to me you grind to be someone you’re proud of; to produce projects your proud of. This year has proven to me I have to be my greatest cheerleader and my greatest defender. In 2018, I am to the conclusion we are all unstoppable if only we get out of our own way.