To paraphrase Patrice O’neal: “Jobs only give you enough so that you don’t lose your plantation hut.” That couldn’t be truer. So diving back into my beef with the accepted ideas on work/jobs/corporate culture. So my story was that of least resistance – low risk, a-to-b. I went to a college that was walking distance from both my high school and home. I was a scholarship student so if I pushed myself I would have went to a different school and been OK. I could coast and the funding situation was set so that I would only need to focus on grades. That worked for me. It was comfortable and of my planning. My first job out of college I secured as a ‘happy accident’ while in college. I worked for Verizon Communications and I met the recruiter a few times and she felt I was a ‘natural marketer’. I never really put much thought into it, much like choosing which high school I’d attend. Someone told me it would be a good idea and I didn’t have an idea for myself so “sure, that makes sense.” I didn’t have to stretch too far for a job’s benefit and with that I was allowed to succeed and stretch in ways I actually wanted to stretch.
Once the Verizon job ended, the bullshit began. I signed a non-competition agreement which essentially killed my professional ascension. I was promoted each year at Verizon and it was easy. No adversity. I couldn’t work in my field for years – it did allow me the opportunity to try other jobs, to try other types of jobs. It was a good experience. However, getting to that point was difficult – not having a job when “you should” is a red flag for employers. I’ve been told in interviews that I wasn’t “bubbly” enough or that “I must have a record.” I had to bite my tongue and be at the mercy of these gatekeepers.
One day I was employed with a long-term contractual position, I had an interview. This interview was with a place where I would later work in a different position. The position in question was a marketing position with podcasting responsibilities. I felt very confident. I wanted to look the part so I made major league changes to my appearance – I cut my hair and shaved. I sold out. I felt miserable but told myself “it was only temporary.” I had to buy new suits as I lost so much weight during the time between leaving Verizon and this interview. I went to the interview and I took a picture of myself with my new suit and new banal yet austere demeanor. I hate the picture. I did well. But ultimately, I didn’t get the job, I was strung along for weeks when a decision had already been made. I was devastated. However, it was a lesson – understand what selling out is for me and don’t sell out.
To be continued.