Patience. And having some.
Now I could sit here and disclose all my private situations and tell you all my stuggles but they aren't as important as the lessons I have learned. I might just throw in some scenarios to set up the scene but I'd hate to clutter up the blogosphere with more whiney stories.
There's only one lesson in this story. I don't know if it's the fairly religious person inside me talking but I believe things happen for a reason. I truly believe that there is some higher power out there that knows what each of us struggle with. I think the big guy upstairs also knows what we need better than what we think we need. I also believe that he thinks I need to have more patience. In case you didn't read the title of this post, I want to let you know that I'm going to talk about patience and the importance of having some.
So as many of you know, I am a recent grad. Normally when one graduates they should skip out of the grad ceremony right into their career of choice. That is a lie that is told to you at college orientation in order to delay the murder of your young, naive dreams. Instead, I skipped out of the ceremony without a job and $80,000 in student loan debt. I had planned a solo trip to Europe two weeks after graduation and then realized that I was dirt poor and probably shouldn't be spending the rest of my savings on a two week trip. Throwing all caution to the wind, I hopped on the plane. Let the patience lessons begin.
Take a breathe and enjoy the ride. In Berlin I got lost and ended up walking about 2 miles before I could even recognize where I was on the map. It didn't take much longer for me to get lost again. I was seriously frustrated and just wanted to get to the Typographie des Terror. I finally just gave up and started walking down what ever street looked interesting, completely disregarding the map. I started watching the people around me, looking at the buildings, reading the signs, noticing street art and posters. I was actually witnessing Berlin at it's finest. I got to see the culture and make meaningful observations about the city. Then all of a sudden, I was standing right in front of the Typographie des Terror. The journey may have taken longer than I wanted but I got more out of it. It's not always the destination but the journey. I also learned that it's ok. Just breathe. Let go. Stop stressing out and let it be.
Wait for the right opportunities. Before I left for my trip I got a job offer. Before I go into the story it is important for you to remember 2 things. 1- I am jobless. 2- Recent grad. Got it? Ok! Job opportunity = Full time, benefits, jr. art director title, $23,000 salary....wait? What did you say? $23,000? I've heard of leaving room for negotiation but that's a lot of room. Everything sounded wonderful until we started talking money (which I'm super awkward about but I should get over it.) Now I thought about it. Seriously thought about it. I took the whole weekend. I talked with mentors, peers, creatives with the same title, my mom... Then I did the numbers. I would be barely making $11/ hr. I've had part time jobs that pay better. Now I understood it was an opportunity. I understood that I would learn a lot. But I also understood math. I live a pretty low maintenance life style but once those student loan bills start rolling in.... no more trips to the Bongo Room. So without interviews lined up, a trip to Europe quickly approaching and no reliable source of income, I declined the offer.
After Europe I picked up a minimum wage gig to make the ends meet. I went on a few interviews, all very hopeful. It had been a few weeks and really hadn't heard from anyone. It was a Monday night and I was doing laundry. I totally forgot that I couldn't dry my work shirt but you guessed it, I stuck it in the dryer. The shirt didn't fit anymore. I said it as a sign that I had to quit. Frustrated and overwhelmed with hopeless tears, I told myself that I would just have to be patient and everything would be fine. Maybe I would loose a few inches off my waistline before my next shift.
The next morning I woke up to my annoying ringtone. I answered with an overly cheerful voice hoping to mask the "Hi! I just woke up" voice. It was a job offer. I literally had pennies sitting in my bank account and here was the phone call from Heaven. The offer was everything I hoped it would be and a little bit more. Suddenly everything I had been so stressed out about the night before didn't matter.
Good things come to those who wait. I don't know where I would be if I took the first offer. It may have been totally great. It may have sucked. But I'm so thankful for my support system at creative go-round that taught me the value of my work. (Chris and Jason you better be reading this and crying...) I'm so glad that I wasn't afraid to keep looking. I'm even happier that things worked out. Like I said at the beginning, I think the big guy upstairs knows what I need better than I do.
The most important lesson I learned is to be knowledgable about the creative industry and don't settle for less than you think you are worth. One day, when I actually know what I'm talking about, I will write about getting paid. It's something that the folks at creative go-round have ingrained into my head. But for now, I will direct you to Mike Montero's F You, Pay Me.
Everyone is trying their hardest, just like you. Remember that minimum wage job I was talking about? Yeah I was babysitting many kids of various ages. I have always been a person who loved children. I'm the oldest of 7 kids so it's kind of natural. I just get them. But with a bachelor's degree in one hand and a dirty burp cloth in the other, I was quickly loosing my patience. It was like every time I turned around some kid was falling off a chair, eating play dough, or picking their nose and making somebody else eat it. I would try to distract kids with the cool puzzles but some of them couldn't do it because their fine motor skills hadn't kicked in yet. Better yet, some kids couldn't even talk yet. Others didn't even speak English but were impressively fluent in Korean, Spanish, or German.
The thing I got the most frustrated with was their lack of coordination. Have you ever had five 18 month old kids running around in shoes that are slightly too big? I'll tell you what it's like. None of them can stay standing for longer than 3 minutes. You spend the next two hours picking kids off the floor and praying that the next kid to fall doesn't fall on a smaller kid. Then there's a 6 month old crying because... you don't even know why. You just want to scream "Learn to walk already and tell your parents to buy you shoes that fit!!!" But the only thing you can do is stick in an Elmo video and blow some bubbles. (Thank God for Bubbles!)
Today I was helping a 2 year old put together a puzzle. I got so frustrated that she couldn't comprehend that the pink piece should connect to the other pink piece. I really don't know why I was so frustrated. She wanted my help and here I was steaming because this tiny person was... learning.
Then it hit me. PATIENCE. She will never learn that pink goes with pink if I keep taking that piece out of her hand and doing it for her. Those clumsy kids will never learn to walk if I don't let them fall a few times. Then it came full circle. I realized that these kids were like me and I was like the big guy upstairs. If the big guy just gives me everything I want, when I want it, and how I want it, I will never learn. I'm sure he's frustrated with me and my learning process but he understands that I have to do things on my own.
These are life lessons, folks. I'm sorry if it was too deep or intellectual but according to the kids I babysit, I'm graduated now and that makes me a real adult.