I had an “aha” moment. I was living in Boston and recently turned 27. I was enduring a job as an Administrative Assistant for a “high profile” and “world renowned” doctor’s office being reprimanded by my capricious boss for responding to her demand with “ok”. Within an instant, I stopped caring. I hated my boss. I hated the job. I could no longer allow myself to simply co-exist in an overly sterile, negative, unimaginative environment. I refused to let this career with no future dissipate my light anymore. I once was bright as sunshine. That place took my light and made me the shade of a dim bulb.
Fuck it, I thought. I’m giving my two weeks. I will not settle. I’m taking these creative instincts and bringing them to the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of”. I’m going to New York like I’d always dreamed. And you know what?
I did. Kind of.
It wasn’t an easy transition by any means. I loved Boston and still do. My boyfriend and friends who I loved dearly were there. I solace in its cobblestone streets. For a period of time I painted pictures in my room and found poetry and stars sitting outside in the seaport. But as my light dimmed and my empty job weighed more and more heavily, my usually constant imagination began to cease to motivate me. My heart was so heavy. Something in me vowed that if I didn’t take this ultimate risk that I felt so strongly in my gut, I would not only never become the person I’m meant to be, I would regret it my entire existence. So after giving my two weeks, I packed up my stuff and with the help of my family, moved myself back to my parents house in a rural and woodsy area of CT.
So first things first. I contacted staffing agencies and relentlessly scoured Craigslist. Google became my confidant. Within a few days a staffing agency near Grand Central reached out for an interview. Literally a day or two after I moved to CT. I thought this couldn’t get any better. Took the train into the city. I was psyched and incredibly happy to be in New York, a city I’d loved since I could remember. The woman I met with was so charismatic that she would find me a job in publishing or the arts. Soon I learned they all were. I never heard from that agency again. Or the second, or the third, or even the sixth .I went from excited about a new start to feeling like I was an outsider in a big and suddenly unfamiliar city. Eventually, one staffing agency proved a bit more pro-active. My check in emails even went to an actual person! With them I attended multiple interviews. I commuted from New Haven. I spent what was left of my savings. Some places I interviewed ended up hiring the temp they already had. One well known chocolate company had me in for a receptionist position where the interviewers glared at my wrist tattoo(A relatively small elephant). They declared I wasn’t the right fit. Not being the right fit happened rather often. It was hurtful, my self esteem was called into question, and my pockets were empty. I had no insurance and wondered if my quest was hopeless. I was going into interviews with high anxiety and a self deprecating attitude. Friends and family tried to remind me that this was just practice. That they were proud of me for taking these risks. That I was doing something incredible for me. I didn’t feel that way, but when staffing suggested doing some temp work in the interim, I obliged. Figured it was better to start putting myself out there as I felt empty and without structure. I was also seriously in need of cash money.
The first experience temping was truly wonderful. It was for a prominent architecture firm in Chelsea where I made drip coffee and entertained at the front desk. The office was bustling with creative energy. One of the partners(aka one of the genius architect bosses who was incredibly picky about his coffee)complemented me on the coffee, something to add to my repertoire of random skills(along with making balloon animals and yo-yoing). There were about 100 architects within the large space, all of which made sure to say hello and genuinely seemed to enjoy making friendly conversation. The executive assistants let me venture onto the roof of their 18th floor studio and take pictures of the unobstructed city views. This gig only lasted two days, but it was two great days. As I was leaving at the end of my final day, I noticed three missed calls from my staffing agent. I also found an email that stated,”I have a job for you”! I called her back immediately, thinking it was a permanent position, only to find out it was a three week temp position in PR. Organizing their showroom. Ugh. But, under the slight pressure from the attitude I received when I requested time to think it over(She responded with an, “um, ok. I need to know in the next few minutes as I’m leaving and they NEED to know”) I accepted. She told me I was the best. And that it would be a positive experience, and that the office was “really cool”. When the time for the Monday morning commute came around, I put on my best flats and genuinely believed that if the last experience was as great as it was, this was going to be incredible.
If by “cool” staffing meant cold, as in icy, and if my idea of the experience being incredible would assimilate to being incredibly bad, then yes, all were correct. I was either busy and feeling taken advantage of or not utilize at all. The first day was spent pairing over 500 sneakers from a popular brand that were a mis-matched mess. While this was being attempted, the head publicist came in screaming and verbally took out a college intern for coping ONE PAGE of her photo book wrong. The show room was exactly how you would imagine a volcano eruption if the eruption was clothes and shoes as opposed to lava. One girl told me her project was my priority. Another told me the showroom was my priority, even though no direction was provided. If I wasn’t playing the role of a mind reader as to where everything belonged, I was placed in the intern room listening to the college student’s empty conversations as to who was most popular in high school, what superlative they were given senior year, and how much they drank over the weekend. The most vile taste was put in my mouth when the girl I did the most work for, on my last day, told me with conviction that she would “speak to her boss” in order to, “keep me indefinitely”. This of course, never happened. Even though the place generally grossed me out, I felt pretty glum.
Aha round two. I made a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to get anywhere by thinking negatively about my situation or myself. While turning negative was easy and I was tired, the effort to be more positive was immanent. I need to figure out a way to turn my anxiety into something positive. My cousin suggested the idea of creating a personal mission statement and a blog. I combined the two and blogged about my mission to be in a career that makes me happy, would be stimulating, is creative and has a positive office culture. Furthermore, I recognized that these unsuccessful interviews and temporary positions were educational stepping stones I should be thankful for. I was being given the opportunity to explore different fields and see which correlated with my own passions. The more I believed that everything was going to work out, the better it was becoming.
There is something inherently magical about New York. As days go on the city inspires me more and more. While I has not been easy and I’m still on the cusp of my creative career transition, I’ve refused to give up. My cousins have graciously been letting me stay with them and the support has made a huge different. I’m finally starting to feel less like an insider and more of an additional piece with a story that makes the city as eclectic as it is. Eventually, little by little, I can feel my inner light returning. That’s how I know I’m doing the right thing. My mission keeps me positive since I genuinely believe the right fit will come along where a unicorn loving, whimsical girl such as myself fits in with ease. Speaking of which, my cousin noticed a “help wanted” sign in an independent boutique where I later brought my resume. I then found out that they have a mission too, and that is to promote happiness, creativity, and femininity. The atmosphere was different then what I felt entering the interviews as a receptionist or admin; it was positive. I got the job. And while its I’m going down a completely a different path then imagined, I finally feel headed in the right direction.
For more post-graduate adventures, check out her blog here: http://gradualadventure.wordpress.com/