(Reed’s Song of the Day: How Deep is Your Love, by Calvin Harris and Disciples)
I’m back, bitches.
I apologize for the hiatus; I was finishing out my last week at work, and then I had a friend over for the better part of a week. But now I am officially able to dedicate all my time, thoughts, and energy to you….
…because I’m once again unemployed.
I’ve had this happen two years in a row now. The UCLA Library employs me in limited appointment positions for 1,000 hours at a time. When that 1,000 hours is up, I’m out of a job and must take a few months of hiatus before I can be rehired. Or, that was the case last summer.
This time it’s a bit different. Apparently I can only have two limited appointment positions with the university before I have to be hired for a permanent career position. Which means I’m about to have some very interesting conversations with people in the Library.
The good news is, I have options. The bad news is, there’s no longer a guarantee I can find a position. But the whole thing isn’t nearly as worrisome to me as it was last summer. Which actually is the point I wanted to get to.
See, standing on the precipice over the long unemployed summer has given me the opportunity to examine how I feel now in relation to how I felt last summer, or the summer before when I was just graduated. And right now, I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made.
I don’t really remember how well I documented last summer in this blog, but if I can be completely frank here, it was kind of a mess. In fact, most of last year, or even most of the time since I’ve graduated from undergrad, I’ve been a mess. Somewhere between the quarter-life crisis, crippling insecurity about succeeding, and recent political developments, I’ve felt disillusioned about the world and my place in it.
A lot of it was tied into the work I was doing for the library in the 2016-17 academic year. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about this, and I’ve developed a conceptualization of what I see as the “levels” of self-efficacy a new adult must feel in their jobs before they can be truly comfortable. Maybe it’s totally bullshit (probably is), but I’d like to share it anyway:
Level 1 – Having a job (which shows the adult somebody thinks they’re worth investing in, even if it’s as a fry cook at Burger King)
Level 2 – Having a job you actually care about (which shows the adult they can minimally succeed in their career field)
Level 3 – Doing necessary work (I’ll explain this one a little better below)
Level 4 – Doing work no one else, or few others, would be able to do (which shows the adult they’re absolutely essential to the operation of their company)
I was really lucky upon graduation to have a job lined up for me – I was going to be an orientation counselor for UCLA for the summer. And while that job was great, fulfilling that Level 1 thing immediately, it came with a whole host of drawbacks. Suffice to say being an orientation counselor is not something I’d want to do for the rest of my life, even if I could.
Then I got lucky again and the Library wanted to hire me after graduation for the 2016-17 school year. That was kind of hitting Level 2, although I didn’t know it yet – I was able to work in the academic field and start the path to being a teacher. But I still wasn’t quite at Level 3, which was one of the things I think weighed upon me.
Let me give an example. If you’re going to get coffee for other employees, making copies, and other such tasks, you’re doing work that is necessary for the company to run. But at the same time, it doesn’t quite feel (at least to me) like you’re doing something that feels completely integral. As if, if you weren’t doing that work, it would be a minor inconvenience to everyone, not a crippling of function.
When I was at that Level 2 last year, I felt like I was catching a lot of things that fell through the cracks for other employees, and in that, I was successful – but I wasn’t doing work of my own that really allowed me to flourish as an employee. It led to me wondering whether I was really an important part of the Library.
I’m really happy to say this year changed things for me. Not only did I have additional responsibilities with the Library which I felt were crucial, but I also was allowed to take on my own projects and roles, including that of instructor, which I felt were necessary to both myself and the Library as a whole.
I’m not quite at Level 4 yet – and I don’t think I will be until I finish graduate school and start as a teacher – but I feel so much more satisfied with myself than I did last year at the same point.
And more broadly, as I’m facing down my third summer since graduating from undergrad, I feel different. I feel like I understand the world and my place in it. I feel like my philosophy and outlook, even my goals for myself, were forced to flex and bend the last two years, but now they’ve finally grown back stronger. I feel more well-rounded as a person and as a young professional.
Basically, whereas the last two summers I had mental health issues and concerns for myself in the career field, I now find those pressures have lessened significantly. And maybe they won’t go away for a while, but I’m so okay with that right now.
If you’re struggling with that quarter-life crisis still, I want you to know I feel for you. It totally sucks trying to orient yourself in the world, especially if it’s the first time you have to do so.
Keep on. You can do this, I promise. And all of that struggle will make you stronger.
Love you, everyone. Glad to be back 😀
Yours, revamping that resume,