Blog written on 5/9/12
So right now I'm sitting in the computer section at Staples waiting for Bee to get lunch break and I'm having one of those moments of clarity where everything that didn't make sense on their own suddenly come together into something whole and the create a very clear picture.
I'm reading a book right now called Boy Meets Boy by: David Levithan and I think the main character Paul explains this moment of clarity the best. He called it Serendipity: "When all the random pieces come together in one wonderful moment."
I got my first real adult job last week at a call center. When I say adult job, I mean that it was a Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, I-have-to-go-buy-professional-clothes, they have coffee in the break room kind of job. And I got a cubicle.
If you're like me and you've never had a cubicle and you've watched way too many sitcoms based in offices, then you can imagine how exciting the idea of getting a cubicle is. It was like the ultimate validation that I was in fact an Adult, capital A (much more validating that remembering to buy toilet paper and pay my cell phone bill).
But this is where the excitement stops. There's a reason that most people who have a 9-5 and a cubicle look so depressed and tired when the weekend is over and they have to go back to work. Cubicles are tiny gray prisons and the idea of one is more wonderful than the reality of having one can ever be.
Maybe I'm being dramatic. Not everyone who works out of a cubicle is depressed. I'm sure some people love their cubicles. I'm sure some people love the jobs that they do in these cubicles.
Anyway, I worked at a call center. I was the telemarketer that calls you in the morning and harasses you, trying to convince you that "I'm only trying to help you." You don't believe me, I don't believe me. It's like we have an understanding: you'll tell me to go to hell and I won't take it personally.
I think I underestimated this job and how much it would take from my mentally. I mean all I had to do was recite a script. It wasn't that hard. Right?
Wrong. In the week and some that I worked at this call center, I became one of those depressed, tired we just talked about. Too tired to write, too tired to smile or eat, too tired to do anything but cry.
It got to the point where I was sitting in my cubicle, staring at the gray walls through a film of tears and wondering if I could make it through one more call. Just. One. More. Call.
And that leads me to the computer section of Staples.
Quitting my job was easy. It was the part where I was sitting on the bus heading home that was hard, because then I had to think about how I was going to tell Bee and how I was going to have to call my parents and tell them.
I could already hear my dad's voice in my head telling me "You don't have to like your job, you just do it." And when you're a broke young person living on your own this statement has some merit. I couldn't explain to him that it wasn't a matter of liking or not liking my job but a matter of what I was willing to sacrifice for this weekly paycheck.
Was I willing to sacrifice my happiness?
Was I willing to sacrifice my time?
Sure. Did it really matter that it takes me 2 hours on public transportation to get to and from work and I go to bed by 9 and am up by 5 and never see my sister, when I have this weekly paycheck that will eventually lead to my own apartment and a bed that looks like this? Okay, so I can't write. I know you have a point, but my roommate turned up the fridge again and my organic-strawberries-that-I-really-couldn't-afford-to-buy-once-much-less-twice are frozen. If I had my own apartment and my own fridge, I'd be eating organic strawberries right now.
Was I willing to sacrifice myself?
I would not compromise on this. No amount of money in the world is worth doing something that feels like it's stealing pieces of you or turning you into the kind of person you don't want to be. When anything you're doing feels like it's chipping away at your spirit, it's time to start doing something else.
This realization was the serendipity that Paul talks about. That one wonderful moment when I understood that this job was like most things in life: an opportunity for growth, a lesson waiting to be seen. The world would not end if I quit. I would not end up living on a park bench and the fumes of my failure if I quit.
Sure, my dad might be disappointed and not understand why I left my job, and Bee would never get that expensive dinner I promised her, and I wouldn't be getting my own apartment as soon as I'd hoped. Not to mention I'd still be eating frozen strawberries.
But you know what, I learned that Being an Adult (capital A) is not about having a 9-5 and a cubicle, it's not about dressing professionally and drinking coffee in a break room and needing these things to validate your independence, it's about making the hard decisions and being able to live with the outcome.
So when life hands you frozen organic strawberries, make a smoothie.
Music: River by: Civil Twilight