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