When I was 25 years old, I had three part-time jobs at once: I worked as an office assistant in a logging office in the mornings, I worked at a grocery store in the afternoon, and I worked for a phone sex line at night. I remember a friend telling me “Don’t get burned out.” I told him “Are you kidding? I’ve been burned out for years!”
Now that I’m 30, it seems that I can barely handle one job, nevermind two or three. In my last post, I mentioned that my days were numbered. Boy, were they ever.
Around 10 a.m. yesterday, I received a meeting request through Microsoft Outlook asking me to meet with my team lead to discuss my “questions” about procedure. The instant I saw it I knew that I would never make it through that meeting.
One of two things was bound to happen:
1) I was going to cry, look like a psycho, run out, and never come back.
2) I was going to get defensive, say something rude, and get fired.
Prior to the meeting, I sent an e-mail to my recruiter. I told her that I was unhappy and wanted a new position. I was not using my skill set, and was limited to activities I wasn’t even good at. I also reminded her that the pay rate was far too low. I really wanted to speak with her before I attended the meeting, but she was unavailable until later.
I actually quite like the supervisor who requested the meeting. He is nice and funny and I’ve never had a problem with him. We have mutual friends as well, but that really just makes this whole thing more awkward.
Before he could lecture me about procedure, I blurted out that I had been having difficulty focusing mostly due to the change in my tasks. He told me that he knew I was overqualified, citing that I have a master’s degree and I’m doing a customer service job. Obviously, this isn’t my career.
He told me that I would have to find the motivation to focus, and that they would like to work with me because they saw that I have abilities beyond the scope of my job. “Why, then, am I getting passed over for more challenging projects when others aren’t?” He said it was simply the luck of the draw.
I became progressively more upset as the meeting went on. Since I have started there, my job has changed twice, my car has been repossessed, my car broke down, my electricity cut off, two of my friends have died, I’ve had a terrible bronchitis and other strange symptoms, I’ve had to go without food and medication, and I completed my master’s degree. I’m overwhelmed. Perhaps I shouldn’t be working at all. I walked out in tears.
Sadly, I’m noticing a pattern in my own behaviors. My last temp job was a customer-service position, and it caused me such a high level of anxiety that I could not do it. I walked off the job. The job I had before that was a position I loved, even though I got laid off. I was fired from the job before that, mostly for expressing dissatisfaction about the scope and challenge of my job duties. Because of that, I was afraid to complain to my recruiter about my dissatisfaction with my “writing” job. I was worried I would be fired immediately because I was so replaceable. Employers don’t want a whiny person working when they can just as easily find a non-whiny person to do the same job for the same money.
I regret that I did not complain earlier, but I do not regret quitting. Even though I have no resources and no real support, I feel as though a great weight has been lifted and I can breathe again. This is the closest I have been to happy in almost two years.
My recruiter has referred me for another position, but that just means that my resume has been submitted, and they will decide whether or not to interview me. I signed up for a free resume evaluation service at JobFox and I got my results today. The woman who did my evaluation was somewhat harsh, but she did have some good points and some good advice I will incorporate into my resume. She suggested (as others have before) that I make my resume more achievement-based as opposed to task-based. In general I feel I have done that, but for my last job I haven’t had enough distance from the hours and hours of checkbox-clicking to see that I achieved anything at all in that position.
I came across this blog post on walletpop.com. While I agree with the sentiment behind the post (one should always have a backup plan when unemployed, about to be unemployed, or if unemployment benefits are about to run out), so-called “emergency jobs” don’t really qualify for a backup plan, anymore. When I first started dealing with this situation back in December 2003, I had savings to last me a month or so, and I thought “Oh, I’ll just get a job at Starbucks if I can’t find anything else.” I was professional, enthusiastic, and I had previous barista experience. Starbucks rejected me, telling me that they had found people with more barista experience. I have a friend who got a job as a barista at Starbucks, only to be let go when his store closed. I have also applied for many grocery store jobs, and the only one I got was only temporary.
My backup plan at the moment is LaborReady. I admit it — it’s a terrible plan. I am not physically well enough to do hard labor, but that’s the only semi-reliable option I can think of. I also have a lot of items I can sell on craigslist. The fear hasn’t quite set in, but I’m sure it will in time.
One of the biggest lessons that poverty has taught me is never to spend money on food if I need (really need) that money for other things. Even when you’re hungry, there are food banks and other resources, so there is no point to spend money that you might need for rent or clothing for a job interview. I will be hitting the food banks this week.