As of September 4th, public schools in SD were back in session. I followed a school bus all the way to work that morning and it made me a little sad. I always equated a new school year with a new box of crayons, and nothing is better than a new box of crayons. We don’t get to use many crayons at work.
As of this month, I have been out of school for two years. It’s been longer than that since I’ve had a new box of crayons, but what can you do?
As of September 25, I will have worked the same full time job for one full year.
Yeah yeah, I know. Not that exciting. But it is a first for me. I’ve never accomplished that before.
I worked as a pool monitor (downgraded lifeguard) when I was sixteen. I also sold lingerie at that age. I was pretty good at it but I didn’t like it. Then I sold children’s clothing. I was less good at that, and liked it less too. The first job I liked was in a bookstore. When I grow up, I’ll work in a bookstore again because books make me happy. I did that full time for about six months after college, but wound up leaving because bookstores just don’t pay enough to live on. While still in college, I taught ballroom dance lessons, gave conferences in our college Writing Center, and tutored French. I had those jobs for three years and loved them too. I worked in a hospital for eleven months while I saved money to go to graduate school. That’s as close as I’ve ever gotten to a full year of full time employment.
I’ve been working at TDG for over a year now, but I started part time. As my full time anniversary approaches, I find myself getting restless. It isn’t because I dislike the job; I find it challenging and the perks can’t be beat.
No, I believe I am restless on principle. This is the first job I have worked without an end in sight. Always before, I have known I would be finished with a job in X months or years because I would be graduating/moving/going back to school.
Perhaps that is a symptom of being Grown Up: no more deadlines on the span of your employment. You work until a reason to stop appears – you don’t start already knowing what that reason will be.
On the other hand, there’s something kind of nice about having been here long enough to say “last year at this time, I was this much less competent.” Or “ah ha! I’m the idiot who made that mistake last year, and therefore I know exactly how to fix it now.” As often as I’ve changed jobs, I’ve never really cared much for the process of learning a new job. It’s much nicer to be good at what you’re doing. Feeling competent makes a person feel more valuable.
And there are good things happening in the business. We’re growing, expanding, learning new tricks and gaining more perks out of the deal. That’ll be enough to keep my attention and my interest for now (it was enough to cause me to turn down a possible museum job), but five years in the future? Ten years in the future? Hard to say. In five years or ten years will I still be here?
I have a very hard time imagining five or ten years. I don’t have goals the way people my age are supposed to have goals. I’m not interested in climbing anyone’s corporate ladder or having the perfect family with 1.7 children and a dog. In my perfect word, five or ten years from now, I will be doing archeaology somewhere in Europe for six hours a day, four days a week, eating french bread and belgian chocolates at every meal, riding my bike to work and taking a train to other countries a couple times every month.
I’m borderline generation Y, which apparently means I’m borderline to belonging to the Entitlement Generation. I confess that I do possess a few of the symptoms: I don’t feel like I should have to take office work home, and I’m utterly uninterested in working on my weekends. But I do know that if I work hard now, while opportunities and my savings skills are at their peak, I’m more likely to be able to afford to live in Europe and eat chocolate all day a few years down the road.
For now, I’ll have to sooth my wanderlust by making Dustin take me on trips. We’re going to visit my grandparents in Michigan next month, and have tentative plans to go back to Europe next spring. Aah. Something to look forward to.
Of course, none of that involves a new box of crayons, or even a nice new backpack. I’m still sorry to be out of school. Maybe I’ll have to add “back to school” to my list of goals. Another nice European school, maybe, so I can keep the bits about bread and chocolate. Geology will be my next degree. Yes, that would be nice.