Rant: Day Job vs. Passion

I’ve been going back and forth in my head for a couple of weeks now about this. I’ve been applying for a bunch of jobs and I’ve been tossing back and forth between applying for only what I’m passionate about or applying for jobs that I’d simply be good at. 

Whenever I mention passion to my much-older cousin, she says it’s dangerous to be fixated on mixing your career with passion. Passion implies forever, and our careers don’t necessarily need to be forever. Especially nowadays when people have several different careers during their lifetimes.

I want to find something I’m passionate about doing because whenever I meet people who are passionate about what they do, I feel a tinge of jealousy – I mean, obviously, right? It was always ingrained in me growing up that I should do what I love and what I’m passionate about, but is that not really the way it is? Just because a very small percentage of the population has managed to find a job they absolutely love, does that have to be what we all strive for? Because it’s almost as hard to find as finding your “soulmate.”

Why isn’t it good enough for all of us if we find a job that pays us so we can live our lives and pay the bills and take the occasional vacation? A job that we might happen to be good at, even though it might not be something we’re particularly passionate about doing? 

So, at first I was limiting my job applications to only companies for which I could muster up some degree of passion. Then I realized that those jobs are super few and far between and maybe my cousin was right: just find a job with people that you like (or can at least tolerate), that pays you well, and that you’re good at and, live your life outside the office. 

I went to school for theatre management and took an extra several-month course in commercial producing after graduation. I worked in theatre and the pay was lousy and the hours were even worse. I loved some of the shows I was working on, but even though I loved (and still love) theatre, I knew it wasn’t the end of the world if I didn’t work in the industry anymore. It was my passion and I could do it outside work. 

Isn’t that generally what passions are anyways? Things you do in your free time? Yes, I’d love to teach yoga full-time, but that path is hard as fuck, and you have to hustle, and I don’t know if I’m cut out for that. 

So, in the meantime, I’m going to try to teach (for $$ or volunteer) yoga on the side and then get a job that I’m good at. I’ll try my best not to work in an industry that I find revolting (again) and be content that maybe I’m not 100% passionate about what I do from 9 to 5 every day. My life outside of work is more important at the end of the day: friends, yoga, meditation, theatre, music. 

And if you make your passion your day job, is it really your passion anymore? Just asking. For a friend. 

Real Clothes

I don’t know what real clothes look like anymore. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I feel like I’ve forgotten how to put myself together. After spending four weeks in yoga pants, five days a week, and desperately avoiding having to put on clothes other than sweaters or leggings, I now can’t even remember what I used to wear to work on a daily basis. Damn you, yoga teacher training and general laziness.

I’ve had a few interviews in the past two weeks and it’s been a struggle to force jeans onto my legs. And I’ve lost 6 pounds in the past month (yay!), so it’s not that they no longer fit! To quote the poet Cher Horowitz, they’re just “so binding.”

I had an interview today for a temp job in the HR department of a fashion company and when I went out it was a fashion company, my first thought was, “oh shit.” I wasn’t sure how I was going to convince these people that I gave two fucks about fashion when I clearly don’t. I ultimately decided upon a 5+ year old black wrap dress from Old Navy with black boots and a hot pink leather jacket. 

(Let’s not talk about how the recruiter gave me the wrong address for their offices and the offices are actually located an hour+ away from me via subway. In the end, I chose not to go or to reschedule. Because the fashion industry sucks and Whitehall Street is really hella far away.)

How should I rectify the situation? I thought an inventory review of my closet was in order. IS in order. Meaning, I have yet to do it. But I will. Soon enough. After a season of leggings and sweaters, I have no idea what else is left in my closet. Does that happen to anyone else?

Nevertheless, here’s to trying to dress like an actual human being again. 

A Leap of Faith

Ever since I was surprised by a layoff in early November, I’d been contemplating doing a 200 hour yoga teacher training intensive with one of my favoriteeeee regular teachers (the inspiration Chrissy Carter!) for the month of January because it just so happened to be almost perfect timing. I just need a way, other than unemployment, to sustain myself until then. 

But then I’d been woo’ed by a recruiter to take a temp HR Generalist position at a tech start-up. The pay was pretty low, but it looked like a cool company, so I said I’d do it. The recruiter also said it had potential to be permanent and as soon as I saw the office and they gave me a bag of swag, I was like, “OMG I’M STAYING FOREVER,” and my yoga teacher training dreams disappeared faster than the color from my cheeks from the 4 AVENUE WALK from the subway to the office that the temp job was in. 

After about two weeks, I started to get pretty miserable though. It became clear that this wasn’t becoming a permanent thing in addition to the pay being stupidly low, and despite my “boss” being a lovely person who I had things in common with (meditation! rose water spray! rolfing!), she arrived late every day (her own schedule, whatever!), spent most of the day in meetings, and couldn’t answer my questions as she didn’t know a whole lot about HR – she had been thrown into her role with no flotation advice just as I had been. She gave me projects to do with no instructions and she wasn’t there to answer questions.

As I sat at my desk last night, I realized I was miserable. I knew I didn’t want to stay and I definitely wanted to have another plan, which was a surprise to everyone, including myself. Ever since college, when I interned and/or went to classes during the day and worked selling merchandise at Broadway shows at nights and on weekends, in addition to volunteering to do other production related things, I looked forward to the day when I’d be able to have a “regular” 9-5 job after which I’d be able to have my life and see shows, do yoga, and whatever else I desired. 

But after the last couple of weeks, I started to kind of admit to myself that maybe that’s not what I want to do after all. Maybe, as much as it kills me to say it, a “regular” job isn’t what’s right for me. Or maybe I was just in the wrong field. But instead of trying yet another job, I decided to sign up for yoga teacher training. I input my credit card number, submitted my application, forwarded the confirmation to my yoga teacher, and left for the day after offboarding someone.

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I arrived, as previously scheduled, at my yoga studio that night for class with my teacher and when she arrived she gave me a hug and told me congratulations. Shortly after, I received a phone call from the recruiter telling me that my assignment was over because they’d hired a generalist. The universe had my back and things all synced up. I’d found a job for the interim weeks before training and now I was free from it. 

I’m really excited for the training. It’s a big step and it’s a big commitment, for sure, but it’s better than sitting around and taking another job that I might end up hating. All of the reasons that I didn’t think I should do it are still there (I don’t really want to be a yoga teacher, per se; I’m not flexible enough; I can’t even do a handstand!; It’s expensive!; My arms are short!; I’m not fit enough!) but they’re at least fading into the background now that I clicked the ‘confirm’ button.

If you’ve done 200 hour yoga teacher training before, I’d love to hear some tips and insights, if you have any. 

Stay Put

I’ve jumped around in terms of jobs for the last couple of years. It all started when I was laid off from the job that I was kicking ass at for 3+ years in 2012. I took advantage of my severance and got back into theatre with an internship that led to a job that worked me to fucking bone. Were there free theatre tickets? Yes. Were there lots of We’re Curing Cancer attitude? Oh, fuck yes. And BTW, we were not curing cancer. What would’ve happened if I had just stayed put and taken advantage of the comps? Who knows. I’d probably have burnt out after another 6 months of that schedule. 

So I left for a job at another theatrical ad agency that was numbers-related but not sitting in the dark back dungeon of the finance department. Unfortunately, this meant more We’re Totally Close To Curing Cancer attitude. Which, despite our best efforts, we weren’t doing anything close to that. My manager, who was basically my age, had hired incorrectly and they scrapped my role, and me, completely after 7 months. 

After that gig ended, I immediately transitioned into my favorite role to date, where I stayed for 10 months until I was woo’d away from the prospect of more money. I kind of wish I hadn’t left, though there was just a huge round of layoffs there recently (every internet media is coming to terms with the fact that you can’t sustain a business off ad click revenue alone). But fuck regret. “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

In between that was the Job From Hell which only last 3 months before the company’s merger and overall business strategy tanked. Good riddance, assholes. 

But as August transitioned into September this week, it occurred to me that I’ve been at my current office of employment for 8 months. And I was like, “Wow, I’ve been here for a while.” And I started to get itchy and make a switch again (there are so many exciting companies out there!) but I decided that I should do something different and stay put. 

Having Many Jobs on your resume is something that baby boomers are having to come to terms with right now. The next generation, apparently, isn’t satisfied to stay at the same job for 35 years for just a paycheck. And good for us. Money is only worth so much. Having to switch jobs is an inconvenience but it hasn’t all been bad. I thought recently about what I’ve learned in the last few years and I came to the conclusion that I wouldn’t trade the knowledge that I’ve gained for a steady job anywhere. (Not to say that there aren’t perks to having one job for many years – security! comfort! – but job hopping isn’t as bad as all the olds say it is.)

First Ad Job:
I like process. I’m really good at process and I kick a job’s ass when I get into a good groove. I don’t like sitting in a closet from 8am through 6pm/7pm though.

Second Ad Job:
Digital media planning is not for me. There’s no process. It’s basically just guessing. I also realized I didn’t like being client-facing. Let me do my job and not have to deal with the clients. And again, I don’t like working 10-11 hour days.

Internet Media Company:
I realized I’m good at the finance stuff and that I really liked HR, too. I like the process that goes along with both finance and HR. I like being involved in the interviews and the onboarding. I realized I didn’t like being bored, though.

Temp Job:
After the last job imploded (not my fault), this was about to become permanent before I realized I didn’t get a flying fuck about bookkeeping for the 1%’s ridiculous weddings/anniversary/birthday parties. The people I worked with were great and the work was easy, but it also wasn’t enough work. Bored AF doesn’t begin to describe it.

Current Gig:
I’ve realized all over again that I like the tech and internet world. I like working with engineers. I like HR and operations. I love recruiting. And I shouldn’t let a period of downtime at work make me want to jump ship. I like working for a company that’s doing something useful.

So, I’m staying put because I like my work and the people I work with. I’m trying something different because as things at any job become routine, I realize I’ll get bored easily, so I just need to sit tight while the company grows. 

Just couldn’t.

I’d been temping as a bookkeeper at an event planning agency for the last (almost) two months in midtown and on Friday, that time came to an end. I was placed here by a staffing agency and the company was sold me as a marketing agency but it very much isn’t. I realized that when I sat down to review budgets my first week and saw that every other event was a wedding. And not just a wedding, a $1 million+ wedding.

I know: people are free to spend their money as they see fit. Fine. But I can’t wrap my mind around how some people spend more on a single day than most people make in a year (or ten years). Some were on far-away private islands. Some used private jets to get there. Others purchased iPads for all of their 200 guests. Yeah, it was those kinds of weddings. The “My Super Sweet 16″ of weddings.

Maybe I couldn’t stomach it because I’d love a courthouse wedding, with chicken wings and beer at a bar alongside friends and family afterwards, while wearing a cream dress that somewhat resembles a nightgown. Who knows.

I also learned that I’m not really good with hospitality. You know: pandering to the 1% of the population who think they’re special because of their upbringing or what the number in their bank account reads. This is partially why I’ve always liked bookkeeping/finance/accounting.
You get to be on the back end of the company and you don’t have to
bullshit with clients all day. My inability to be hospitable is important because I also did the bookkeeping for the child company of the larger company which sells mixers for margaritas and bloody mary’s, among other things. When I said I was sending out emails to stores who were delinquent in their payments (I’m talking about 3+ months), the other girl who works on the company immediately sought me out after the first one went out and asked me to, maybe, be a little softer. My initial reaction: Um, what? Why? They’re 3+ months overdue on a $70 bill. They need to get their shit together and pay us.

So: hospitality isn’t for me and I’m glad I learned that.

I digress.

Around the holidays, I’d sent out a few resumes because I was afraid they a) weren’t going to hire me full time (that was the plan) and I’d be jobless, or b) they would hire me full time and I’d have to do bookkeeping for the 1%’s ridiculously extravagant events for the rest of my life (#dramatic).

Believe me, I see the paradox there, too. I want a job, but I don’t want that job.

I was also bored as fuck, after only two months. Don’t get me wrong, the people I was working with were lovely and my boss was fantastic. It just wasn’t the right place. Luckily, an opportunity to work at a start-up that really excited me came up last week and I couldn’t say no, so I didn’t. This opportunity came along just after I’d convinced myself that the current role would be fine for now. I’d gotten over the initial disappoint of being at a place that plans million-dollar weddings. The flattering thing was that when I told my boss, she asked if she could make a counter offer. I politely-as-possible declined though. 

Anywho: I’ll be doing HR and operations (what I wanted to segue my career back into anyhow) with a dozen or so awesome, passionate people (including a good friend of mine).

I’m excited and I’m leaving the old job in great shape, better than it was in when I came along. I guess that’s all they can ask for. I’m really grateful for the opportunity to continue to refine my bookkeeping and people-managing skills at this company, though and not be broke during the holidays. That was cool too.

On/Up.

Take it to the Village

I’ve talked about choosing to be happily childfree on here a few times (that’s still true – #sorrynotsorry). I think people want kids purely for narcissistic reasons (I can raise a great child! They’ll so pretty like me! Or my husband! They’ll have great values that I will instill in them! etc.), which is fine because we’re all biologically programmed to want kids to some extent, although some people are probably just pressured into it, too.  I think babies can be really cute sometimes, for sure. They’re cute if they’re not ugly (yes, they exist), or happen not to be vomiting or crying, or spitting up, or pooping. Basically when they’re just little giggly blobs is when they’re the best. (And I use the word “best” lightly.) 

But here’s the thing: since this is something that a majority of people are going to decide they want, I do believe that we should make it easy to have them and also continue to be a working human being. One of my oldest friends, who is more like an older sister, really, is a stay-at-home mom of three and I have no idea how she doesn’t come close to blowing her brains out on a daily basis. (Her choice, and I hope she’s happy, but OMGKILLMENOW.)

My managing director just had a baby four weeks ago. She is adorable and has a great name. Instead of sitting home, doing nothing, or sitting home and trying to work from home (while possible, it’s still probably annoying), she’s in the office one or two days (usually half-days) a week with her baby. The first time I heard her cry, I was like, “OMG MAKE IT STOP.” But that’s only happened once and then I chilled out.

The baby likes to be held a lot, so while my managing director is sending emails or whatnot, she’s holding the baby or someone else in the office is holding her (quite happily, I might add, because like I said, most people want kids). I’m pretty sure this is the modern-day equivalent of your fellow tribe numbers helping to take care of your babies.

And I think it’s pretty cool.

Don’t Look Back in Anger

Back when I was unceremoniously downsized (with four days’ severance! And only because I made a point of asking for it!) from the last company that I was working at, I wasn’t all that terribly scared.  The environment in that office was toxic and stifling and this was the last sign I needed that the CEO who’d been all nice and cheery when trying to convince me to work with him was really a total dickbag. So, I was glad to be getting away. I was exhausted with the idea of going through LinkedIn and Indeed but I knew how to do it and I got it done. A week and a half into my search I had an offer from a place that was managed by two awesome women and I’d also gotten really good vibes when I’d been into the office to meet with them. After applying for around 70 jobs, and a couple of other great interviews, I formally accepted the offer and started last Monday. It’s temp-to-perm which is a bit frightening but I have faith that it should go perm pretty fast (fingers crossed). There’s also a woman at a start-up fighting to a new role approved and to hire me, but you never know what’s going to happen at a start-up so we’ll see.

There was a bag of a few things that I’d left at my former job that I needed to pick up. When I emailed the woman who I was supposed to be taking over (she’s a total idiot) for about picking it up, she said we should “grab a bite.” I told her thanks but I needed to come long after lunch time. What did I really want to say? “No fucking way, you asshole.”

I was really mad for a while that I’d let the promise of more opportunity, a bigger workload, and more money cloud my vision and allow myself to be recruited away from a job that I truly loved at a company that I truly adored. But you know what? I would’ve stayed at the job (that I was recruited to) out of principle and I probably would’ve been miserable. So, getting downsized was probably the best thing that could’ve happened. I had to make room in my life for a better job to come along and that was done for me.

There’s no job that’s worth being unhappy for. A larger paycheck is nice but if you’re unhappy or bored, I don’t think it’s worth it. The old way of life when you have a job for 30, or even 5(!), years is over. You work somewhere, learn all you can, and move on for more opportunity. Your job shouldn’t be your life, but I don’t think it’s worth any paycheck if it makes you miserable either.

Whether you’re laid off or you quit, have faith that you’re making space for something different, and probably better. 

I spent the better part of a year working for a company called Flavorpill Media and I loved it. I loved the people and I loved the mission. It was really hard to be recruited away but they offered me more opportunity to grow and more money (though the money was only 10% of why I accepted). Flavorpill launched their newest product, a personal development site called EverUp, this week and in honor of it, they hosted a bunch of really cool seminars. 

I went to the 8am seminar at Flavorpill HQ about the ROI of Mindfulness. I’d seen most of this presentation before but it was expanded and even more awesome. Jesse Israel, founder of The Big Quiet, talked to us about his career (he left the record label that he started while at NYU that signed MGMT) and how he got into doing what he’s doing now before he lead us through an awesome meditation. I was interviewed after having been the one who started the meditation breaks at Flavorpil during my time there and being that I was a regular meditator.

After a quick chat with Jesse and saying goodbyes to my old colleagues, I headed over to WeWork on East 28th for a seminar on how to “pivot your career” giving by an awesome woman named Jenny Blake. She spent 5 years in Silicon Valley working for Google and after taking her sabbatical, she decided to quit to up and move to New York City. Everyone, of course, called her crazy. She’s working on her second book and is sometimes a career coach.

We filled out some worksheets, generated some ideas, and we had an awesome time. She also gave some super interesting and possibly startling (for employers) stats:

  • 83% of people want to get a new job in the next year.
  • Four to five years is the tenure for someone at their company.
  • 25% of people are looking for new jobs because of money.
  • 45% are looking because they see no growth, feel under appreciated, and they want to work somewhere where they can have a visible impact on the company.
  • The career ladder is gone. 

She said change nowadays is the only constant. When employers ask her what they can do to incentivize their employees to stay for more than a year or two, she says they can’t and they need to accept that. It helped to hear that what I’ve been going through is the new norm – even if that new norm is kind of tricky to deal with sometimes. I think it’s probably a better trait to be flexible and able to deal with change than being miserable in a job you hate because it pays you well. Money can only buy you so much.

I chatted with her after and asked her advice about something specific before saying goodbyes to more former colleagues and continuing on to lunch with Ben at Eisenberg’s (tasty food, crap service). 

These seminars couldn’t have come along at a better time and I am so, so thankful for them. 

It’s been one week.

So, it’s been a long week. At the end of the day on Monday, my boss called me into his office and told me that my position was being downsized. I’d been hired to be a finance and operations liaison to support a merger of two marketing companies on opposite coasts. When the west coast company went out of business (semi-unexpectedly?) two weeks ago, I knew my place at the company was up in the air. Honestly, it wasn’t the best fit for me, culture-wise, but I learned a lot (like how to work with someone who’s really difficult) and I had two really good interviews last week, I applied for a lot of jobs, and I met with a dozen or so recruiters and I’m continuing to do so this week. Luckily my dude is really fantastic at prepping for interviews, so he’s helping me a lot on that front. 

It’ll all be okay.

I saw a friend at an event on Tuesday  night and she didn’t hesitate one bit when she heard I’d be downsized and she invited me to a networking event that was at the ungodly hour of 7am on Thursday. It was a good experience and I made a bunch of connections.

Thursday evening consisted of a quick and easy dinner (grilled chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, garlic sautéed broccoli) and The Walking Dead and Mockingjay Part 1 with Justin. My new glasses were also delivered. They’re cute.

After a day of being productive, I went on Friday night I went to YogaWorks for a Teacher Training Class & Info Session with a woman who taught the very first class I ever took at YogaWorks. It was really interesting and although I’m not in a position to spend $3400 on it right now, it’s definitely something to consider in the future. I’m not sure I ever want to teach yoga. I’m simply interested in deepening my practice. 

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening glued to my computer reading updates about the massacres in Paris. So, so sad. Religion is the worst. All religions. They all need to be put to rest. 

I finally made it to my early morning yoga class on Saturday for the first time in what felt like forever and got my ass kicked. Most of Saturday was spent doing a lot of nothing, but I rallied and wandered downtown to visit Washington Square Park where I’d heard there had been rallies earlier in the day. The mayor’s office was planning to light the arch in the park blue, white, and red, which I thought was awesome. The Empire State Building stayed dark on Saturday night in solidarity with the Eiffel Tower. 

Afterwards I saw Fool For Love (review to come!) before meeting up with Justin and one of his good friends for drinks at a favorite spot of ours, Anejo, in Hell’s Kitchen. Sunday was spent relaxing, watching Real Time with Bill Maher, and later on a trip downtown again to get my glasses fitted at Warby Parker and a late lunch at The Copper Still while my eyes glazed over during the Giants+Patriots game. (I seriously do not get football, but I was more than happy to support Justin and eat some delicious noms.)

It’s been an unexpected week, but not an entirely shitty one. Here’s hoping things progress to be even better this week. 

Be the light: check.

I’m in charge of HR and team building at my new-ish (I’ve been there for a month and a half already) job and one of the first things I talked to the CEO and co-founder about was a mini mid-day meditation break. The CEO is huge into meditation, mindfulness, yoga, etc. It was something that I made sure to bring up in my second interview with him when I was asked to come back in. 

So, I sent out an invite on Wednesdays and Fridays at 2pm for a mini 5 minute meditation break. Yes, I know, it’s tough to drag yourself away from whatever you’re doing in the middle of the day, but trust me it’s worth it.

Last Wednesday the CEO told me I’d lead the meditation. Although I’ve been meditating regularly for almost two years, I’d never led a meditation. But whatever: It’s only five minutes. And five minutes is really a blip.

So we all sat down in one of our conference rooms and I regurgitated a lot of what I’d heard from teachers in my yoga classes and meditation workshops. I felt like kind of a fraud. But after five minutes had passed, everyone felt better. Less stressed. They thanked me, told me it was awesome, and the CEO gave me a high five. 

And today I walked into the office to find a colleague burning sage to get rid of a smell, and also to, you know, clear the energy. I asked if I could borrow the sage for my apartment and she said to ask the CEO, because it was really the office’s sage. My office has it’s own sage. I died. The CEO gave me the OK and it’s in my apartment now.

Another colleague told me about an hour-long Monday morning meditation group and that I should totally come next week.

Needless to say: I am so, so happy with my decision to work at this company. I’d been waiting to hear about jobs with huge companies like Disney Theatrical Group when I got this job offer and I’m so glad I didn’t wait. I actually like working at a smaller company.

Especially a smaller company that encourages meditation and sage-burning.