In August 2004, 16 years ago, I started my first job after finally leaving school. It wasn’t my dream job, but Sallie Mae isn’t picky about the kind of job that funds the student loan payments. On the first day of that job, I called my friend Kat from the enormous land-line telephone at my very not-private desk, burst into tears, and told her I’d made a terrible mistake accepting the job and thought I would hate it.
I’ve always been very professional.
It was just after lunch, so I’d been a working person for roughly 4 hours. I hung up, cried some more in the bathroom, then went back to my desk. I went back to work the next day, and then all the next days for 8 more years.
I did, in fact, hate it. The whole time! But a cunning management style that hired passionate young people and then made them feel simultaneously like indispensable geniuses and un-hireable elsewhere — paired with my own long-nurtured sense that I was committing fraud by allowing other people to be fooled into thinking I was smart — kept me there years after I should have left.
(They also severely underpaid! From cost-effectiveness perspective, it’s a brilliant system. Vicious, but brilliant.)
Eventually I found a way out, thanks to my blog and my therapist. “Thank You, Therapist: The Michelle Weber Story.” Or if I want to take more of the credit, “Find Career Success By Cursing About Food on the Internet.”
In August 2012, 8 years ago, I started my second job after finally leaving school. On the first day of that job, I got down on my knees and gave thanks to the eight pound, six ounce baby Jesus for helping me find a job that I loved and that used my talents and was creatively fulfilling. To hedge my bets I also thanked Elijah and the one supreme Brahman, and Oprah for good measure.
I worked at home from an overstuffed Ikea armchair with a laptop balanced on a pillow, because throughout everything, “professionalism” remained my watchword. I went back to work the next day, and then all the next days for 8 more years.
Nothing created and run by human beings is 100% great, but I mostly loved it. I did still feel kinda un-hireable elsewhere, but it was due more to the nature and rarity of the job than my own sense of self-worth (or lack thereof). I did good work with more passionate people, and got paid fairly to do it. By the time it started to be less-great, and then more less-great*, I felt 98% less like a fraud, and I could actually contemplate a future elsewhere.
In August 2020, I started my third job after finally leaving school. It’s at this really cool new company called “I am my own boss.” The pay’s terrible at the moment, but the growth potential is outstanding, and I already have one promising colleague in the form of an emotionally-stunted but very cute dog. The advisory board (my husband) has suggested that I take my first several months to do nothing at all after 9 years of post-secondary education and two 8-year stints at jobs, and management (me) is taking that under advisement. The dog doesn’t get a say because “do nothing at all” is already the entirety of his job description, making him a poor judge.
At some point, I will start to do things again, and one of those things will be building a new magazine. It has a Twitter account so you know it’s real, at least as real as this pothole that also has a Twitter account.
I’m wearing yoga pants and a crop top and lunch today was two Kinder Bueno bars because, again: professional.
What’s the point of all this? There is none, really, except that I miss writing for myself and I need to find my way back to that, so here we are. And I guess to say that if you want to know what I’m up to, micro view, look for a new project soon.** And if you’re more into the macro view, check back in 8 years to see what’s next.
*Yes, I do also write professionally, why do you ask, “more less-great” is a totally legitimate descriptor.
**And a lot more blathering here, I suppose.