I Wanna Get Better

So.

full disclosure.

I’ve been struggling with unemployment for the past few months.

At first, it started out as a massive kick to the face. Dear God, here I am, 29 (at the time) earning my way through the complex digital world, meeting people, networking, not truly understanding the power I wield but I’m paying my bills on time and contributing the the toxic sludge that is the internet.

so paid

so paid

After a few days, it turned into a mini vacation. I was still meeting people for chats, consulting on best practices, sleeping in a bit, hanging out with people. It was like seeing the world for the first time in awhile. Obligations were gone for a moment.

but forever

After about a month, it became a debilitating, soul crushing experience. Waking up early to stare off at the job listings screen, wondering why anyone wasn’t returning my calls or emails then forcing myself to eat breakfast then go to the gym to clear my head.

srsly

After two months, my birthday.

I’m now 30 years old.

I can’t celebrate anything really. I have a party of sorts. I get a little drunk but it’s that kind of drunk where you want your feelings to drown so you can float to the surface, embracing clarity and say you’ll never do that again knowing damn well you’re going to do it.

It all feels like a surreal nightmare where I’ve been dropped into a Fincher movie; all muted hyper colors and textures and there’s an alternate version of me walking around, successfully. Okay so I may have described the plot to Fight Club but it’s the same idea really. There is another version of me, improving, living, thriving.

I am Jack’s complete disillusionment

 

I figure, while I’m booking random gigs, for which I am grateful, I would just try to live a little bit. I try going out early in the day, New York in the summer is my favorite type but I find myself getting up early to go to the gym, be upset, get rejection letters, going home, showering and sitting in my bedroom, AC barely on watching Netflix.

You do a lot of soul searching and personal assessing when something like this happens. As it happens, I’ve been coping with a separation, so it was basically a mega shitshow hurricando mega force suckfest. You start picking things apart, putting the pieces into boxes to really get a big picture and see what happened. I didn’t lose my job due to performance, just the economics of the business. Like a survivor on Lost or Gilligan’s Island, I pick through the debris and see what I can salvage. Turns out I’m more a Gilligan than a Professor. Mercifully, the relationship is still sort of salvageable, but that’s a whole other entry. OR several. Stiff upper lip, I work through it.

I go to a lot of bar events.

I don’t tan.

I’ve dyed my hair at least four times already.

By August I book a gig working the U. S. Open (I dye my hair an acceptable color) The job feels like summer camp really.

When I close out this job, I make the note to spend more time in a gym because there is nothing on Serena Williams’ body that jiggles. THE BOOTY REAL.

actually watched this match. it was intense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I make money, meet people, pass around my business card and discuss business opportunities but the entire time, I find that I’m struggling with just what is that I am offering? What is that I do?

I continue checking my email, sending my resume out, collecting rejection letters, random messages for gigs and the occasional offer to enlarge my penis. As if my problems aren’t enough, my phantom dick is small. fuck my life.

I go to New York Comic Con.

IMG_0372

where I sat in the same room as Edward Norton and Michael Keaton

I work a Thanksgiving Day commercial for one day, setting up office in a home gym in a house with a price tag that makes me weep.

I work a lot of odd jobs.

I work.

What am I doing?!

I’ve become a drone, mindlessly filling out job application after application, hoping to at least land a gig that caters to my skill set. I apply for retail jobs, knowing full well they are the very textbook definition of temporary and I fear repeating the vicious cycle that the last six years have been. (As me about it some time, I’ll tell you all about it. Preferably over drinks.)  I wind up doing more writing and land a few pieces on Vh-1 which fuels me to find my niche and again I’m dumbfounded.

I’ve never done a career assessment. Ever.

In college, I was always in the career office looking at job postings, figuring I can do that, that sounds easy enough. I never sat with anyone to discuss my skills and interests. I never figured out what it was thatI could do and then was completely baffled as to why I had been passed for the position. I still never went to see anyone about it, figuring it was because I hadn’t had a proper resume to begin with. How many times as a college student were you passed on a job because you didn’t have a job before? (I’ve been working since the age of fourteen)

After that, I just dove head first into everything that I could, figuring something would stick in my wheelhouse. I worked in A&R, I worked as a camera operator, post production assistant, I was a copywriter, I was a delivery girl (woman!), I ran social media for various entities. I did it all, I did too much, I wanted to do more. I’d bitched about everything going on, as is the right of all working people in a capitalist society doing what they can to survive.

I have a resume with various skills but none of that experience tallied into a single marketable skill; there is no singular thing that I can define as my ability. (Swearing doesn’t count, sadly) I have a fairly succinct resume, divided between all my media work and then my production work into two fairly respectable entities, never mind the jobs in between all of that. Looking at them side by side, I feel like I’ve been a million different people from one day to the next and none of us can agree on just who we are professionally; we just want to collect the credit, the experience, file it and see where it takes us. (forget the hot mess that I am on a personal level.)

Just what the fuck is it that I do?

Like I said. I’ve never done a career assessment. I’ve had professional friends work with me on molding and shaping who I am, or at least guiding me in the direction to which is best suited to my abilities. We all agreed that I am a Swiss Army Knife. Adaptable to situations, capable, smart, stylish. Pocket sized.

I should pick a better selfie

I tried to do it myself.

What I’ve figured out so far is that I write a lot, (ramble coherently mostly), enjoy comic books, movies, I have pretty gay tendencies, I like animals, movies, off-color humor, drinking and swearing.

Basically I’m a Puerto Rican Judd Apatow character.

(if he was y’know a little more diverse in his writing)

I struggle with anxiety and I learned that when I speak to people, I have to memorize a script so that I can avoid mumbling something incoherent. (Fun fact! I was a theater kid for most of my life but my decision to get tattoos and dye my hair often tanked it.) I started getting more in depth with researching things, reading deeper into some articles. I wrote down ideas and tried testing them out on this blog. I tried dressing better too; apparently t-shirt and jeans is not standard grown lady apparel. I did not receive that notice. Studies indicate that doing little things to improve one’s appearance can increase their confidence and outwardly influence people they meet and thusly line your pockets with money. (vicious cycle)

Now armed with this newfound knowledge, I send out my resume, cover letter and articles to various publications in the hope that one of these strange traits will land me something somewhat resembling an opportunity but I still feel fake. I work and tweak the details, polish myself up, sell sell sell. I curb my social media habits, especially if I’m using them to market myself. I can’t have my moody music posts deterring people from considering me. (we’ve all posted Coldplay songs, shut up) Even with all of this, I feel off.

There’s a nagging feeling at the back of my head. Something I keep missing and I know it.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

I didn’t list that as something I’m fully capable of doing.

me editing this mess

When I was employed full time, all I did was write on the side, the phantom ideas taking up my headspace while working on sheets, deadlines and deliveries. When I lost my job, I broke out all my notebooks, pouring over them, pulling them apart for deeper ideas and I started working on them. It felt much like looking through a yearbook when you’ve completely failed at everything. You want to find the place it went wrong and pick up from there, with fresh arms and legs to carry it.  I broke out a fresh notebook, Post It’s tucked into margins with plot points I had to remember and things I need to remember with world building. I started working on them all the time, hoping that maybe all the experience I’d collected would just pour out in the next great American novel because so far, my luck has been terrible. What’s the worst that could happen, really?

The one thing that’s kept me sane has been writing. My reading has declined substantially despite my growing book hoarding habits (thanks Strand!)  and article perusing while job hunting but my writing, my writing has continued. My last article for Vh-1, the controversial Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You May Be Christmas’ Greatest Song. Ever, landed me my first blockbuster article share (including a RT from Mariah’s team) and first brush with “U R A RETARD GO FUK URSELF MARIAH SUX” hate mail in the comments section. I’ve placed six with them and am trying to work on a full time reccurring segment of sorts but haven’t found the right hook as of yet. Truthfully, I haven’t been able to match that just yet; it’s the Thriller article of my young writing career. I’m working on Bad but fear that all anyone will ever want is Thriller. The fact is, I’m writing, so, that’s a good thing.

So.

Let’s recap.

I lost my job.

I worked a lot of other jobs.

I’m still looking for a job.

I will talk about work with you. Over drinks. Or not. Whatever.

Here’s what I do:

  1. I write
  2. I direct
  3. I produce
  4. I create
  5. I take pictures of random animals that I find in the street and fight the urge to bring them home with me because I’m unemployed and can’t afford that kind of lifestyle right now.
  6. I offer tech support in emerging technologies
  7. I tell dick joks
  8. I can manage YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine accounts. With some bilingual flair.
  9. I am a strange brand indeed but you won’t be bored.
  10. I’m the invisiblecircus

Let’s see where it goes because I want to be a better me.

How Job Hunting Brought Me Here

If you’ve looked at my bio on Twitter (which I hope you have) I have listed myself as a content strategist, digital media guru, YouTube specialist and cat lady. These are all key things to
keep in mind when you consider that I have been job hunting since April of this year. I know what you’re thinking, you played on the internet, how hard could it be to get back in the game? The answer is really effing hard.

I am self taught in the digital domain game and my mentor, an extraordinary woman in her own right, both walked into the digital realm with bright eyes and can do attitudes that meant we were ready to take on the world. We did. The world wasn’t ready for us just yet.

This is not a sob story, this is a reboot, a reimagined version of what is to come.

At around the time of my job loss, my mom had been struggling to find one of her own. She’s a 20 year veteran of the garment industry, my mom has consistently worked, paid my tuition for school and kept food on the table and clothes on my back. As of December 31, 2013, my mom has been out of work. She’s taken a few freelance jobs that lasted a few months working for the same people responsible for her job loss and continues to scour the industry pages and job listings hoping for something. Here’s the thing that breaks my heart. My mom shouldn’t have to go through this at her age. She shouldn’t have to be fighting the same kids I fight (20 something’s with stars in their eyes) to get a job in an industry focused on outsourced and overpriced goods made in countries that are getting wiser to the game. Here she is, fighting and losing. My mom has never had much love for the fashion industry. She loves fashion and really did her best to get me to quit the tired tee and jeans look that’s my trademark but she never felt passionate about making sure the clothes the toddlers wore were actually flame retardant and wouldn’t choke your kid out; it was a job that kept her idiot child out of trouble and fed. She demanded and instilled that I keep reaching for the top shelf (because that’s where there good liquor is) and beyond for whatever bizarre dream I was clinging to. My mom wanted to be a doctor but she never said why she never continued it and that’s always bothered me, how she could dream but only a little bit and want the world for me. Today, she began paperwork for early retirement.

Meanwhile, I’ve been hustling like the good New Yorker I am, networking and freelancing to keep up with the pile of bills misery and paperwork to get back into an industry that doesn’t really care how you describe yourself in a Twitter profile but how you work on a set for 18 hours delirious from lack of sleep and anxious for that email saying you’ve booked your next gig. I had something that I enjoyed after shoveling crap for so long. Yes I love creating content. I love making people laugh and think and I did it for other companies for a long time but when do you stop making things happen for other people and make things happen for yourself? And how do you do it?

The new age in technology has allowed everyone to make an impact in was we didn’t know possible. We can see opportunities wherever we are not looking because there’s so many lanes open. We are capable of designing our own paths and we can find people we didn’t know we’re looking for us. I never had a chance to really think about what makes me an individual; I never gave a quality answer during interviews about why I was a qualified candidate and I tended to make terrible jokes about cartoons, Im an idiot basically. I never thought about my value as a person to any I the organizations I had been a part of (I’ve held a few odd jobs) so the first days and weeks of being jobless hurt more than anything. I had identified with this company so much so that I forgot why they liked me in the first place. It happens. You get comfortable. Feel safe. You are one.

I weighed my job options. My old retail job was looking for people but I couldn’t go back to that, not after launch parties at 40/40 Club (yes ESPN on the screen) or crashing celebrity birthday bashes and drinking free top shelf liquor. It was like being Mase and going back to being Diddy’s gardener; I couldn’t walk away from the cool kid life. I filed for city jobs, corporate jobs, temp work everything and waited for a call from someone.

As I sat filing for unemployment I was writing. A lot. I’ve always been a writer, it’s just one of those things I was able to do without thinking but it was never asked of me to do regularly, so it was in the back burner. I wrote fanfiction (it got that grim but I have to say, some of it is really good) I wrote bad poetry, 140 character reviews, I even took the time to write Amazon reviews! I was writing articles for this blog, submitting to different digital properties I’d had professional relationships with and hoping they’d be interested in the ramblings of a now 30 year old uber child; turns out they already had a staff of 20 year old über children and they were armed to the teeth with gifs. Things were pouring out of me and I didn’t know where they could all go.

I had a bit of a rebellious summer. Cut and dyed my hair colors I couldn’t have with my 9-5, joined some fandoms, marathoned tv shows and kept up with what was going on with the digital landscape. I revamped my resume, I worked the US Open and made some connections but the confidence had been beaten out of me. The bravery to really go out and get that ESPN/CBS/TNN job just…I was rattled. Here I was, working an event meeting people right in the thick of things and I was reduced to a mess of goo because I didn’t know what I could bring to these people that they didn’t already have. You see, losing your job is a strike to the heart because you never saw it coming and what it does is rattle you body and soul. It renders you immobile because you want to know what you did wrong and no one will tell you. Everyone you hoped would help aren’t there and you’re out in the world alone and confused because it was all good just a week ago. So I sat. I waited. I submitted to more jobs and I waited. I wanted to quit but I couldn’t. What would I be quitting?

The government keeps saying that unemployment is on the decline but they always fail to mention that the resources are diminishing and that means people who were claiming it can’t anymore so of course it looks like everyone is okay. They just stopped claiming. They’re onto the next thing to make ends meet. They’re filing for social security, disability, something to keep themselves afloat in a city that doesn’t value the working class.
So I kept writing.

A friend pitched me to someone way back when and an email appeared while I was out with Waffle that changed a few things.

I was tasked with writing for and EDM property.

Now if you’re a fan of the blog (all five of you are and I thank you) you see I’ve been doing first reaction listens of albums. I figured no sweat. Someone cares right? I dove in. I dug up old stories, dusted them off and submitted them for approval. I landed a byline. A.DIGITAL.BYLINE. On a music news site that I frequented and my brain melted.

I had given digital rebirth to myself like some cybernetic Phoenix. My mom immediately took to Facebook (never doubt the power of a mothers love when it comes to her small social media presence) and demanded that everyone on her timeline read my scribblings. She had tears in her eyes. The last time she’d been this proud of me was when I’d graduated high school. I kid. It was when I landed the job that changed everything and brought me into the digital world but still.

I learned things about myself that I didn’t know. You’d think I’d have a good idea of who I am but there’s always something. I learned that I am a thinker; overthinking to the point of crippling indecision. I learned that I pick up on social cues and things people say and do, learn how to read the signs and plan accordingly. I learned that everyone will help if you help yourself and that while no job is perfect or permanent, the people who make it feel like it is are the ones you want to keep in contact with. I learned that my mom is super into puzzle games and really wants me to accept her Facebook invite to Gardens of Time (still pending) and that she still really believes that even when things are shitty, they can either be worse or get better. I learned that I just have to try, even if I don’t know what to expect. I don’t care how old you get, you always want to make yo momma proud. Bottom line.

I am a digital strategist, media mogul, YouTube specialist and cat lady. I’m also the daughter of a woman who made it possible for be to believe that for every weird thought you’ve had about making a difference in the world, you’re right. That you’re tougher than you thought, that you are not labels you write in your Twitter bio, you aren’t disposable or replaceable. You can fight your way back in and make everyone remember your name.

Job hunting made me find and create my dream job and as corny as it sounds, it really does happen.

Now if it paid better, I’d be set.

Find me on Twitter @invisiblecircus