Laggardly Pursuits

10929232_10153049229242915_2305852825431911778_nI am, for all intents and purposes, an introvert.

I like people, and I’d like to say I make a good friend, but it’s hard for me to make the first move.  One exception to this introversion is when I am the one in control of the situation, i.e. if I am the host, charged with introducing people to each other, making others feel comfortable in a situation, etc. I think I’m good at that. But in a way, it takes the focus off me.  I don’t like having the attention on me. (Funny, because I’m pretty brave about talking about myself on a public blog space! Ha!) But, even as a kid, I loved having a birthday party, but hated the part where I had to open presents or blow out the candles.  It’s even more acute now.  “Dear God, please don’t let them sing the Happy Birthday song to me,” I think to myself.  “I never know where to look.”

So.  I’m in a new town.  And everyone here is a stranger.

This morning I went to the 10:30 a.m. service at a local church, only to find out that this particular Sunday was a “fifth Sunday,” where there was only a 9:15 a.m. service followed by a hearty potluck.  I stood outside in the lovely sunlit courtyard, awkward, shifting my weight, trying to figure out what to do.  There was a sign directing “visitors” to a basket of name tags, only there weren’t any left.  No matter, I hate name tags.  I hate showing everyone that I’m new, that I don’t know how things are done yet, that I don’t fit in.  I circled the courtyard, hesitating outside the fellowship hall, wishing inwardly that I would meet a friendly face.  If only my old friend Porter from back in Indianapolis was a verger here.  I tried not to tear up.  It’s kind of been a rough weekend. I didn’t go in. I resolved to try again next week.

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So I went back to the car, and sent a text to Frank, who encouraged me to take myself out to coffee.  I deliberated a bit, and then I went down the road to Whole Foods.  I’m really glad I did, as it gave me a boost to window shop without the kids, planning future meals and reigniting my excitement for all things edible. Then I sat in the sun for a while with an almond croissant and a cup of coffee and I thought about what I’d like to do with my life, when I have a life again one day.

I live in a beautiful place, full of young families and smart new homes, businesses, restaurants and schools.  Some of it is inspiring, some of it’s a bit pretentious (come on, we all know it).  But I’m not a “new,” hip, techie kind of person.  I’m a late bloomer, what do they call it in the Diffusion of Innovations Theory – a laggard? Or at best, late majority.  I’ve been trying to sell my resume to the marketing and communications divisions of all these big companies around me – Apple, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn – but I can’t for the life of me project myself as anyone who has any clue about the next big thing.  I’m way more interested in what’s been and gone.  Ask me to bury my nose in a book of food history and I’ll come back to you with a full report, passionate about my findings.  Ask me to tell you about the latest app and how it fits into the future of our world, and I’ll do my absolute best.  But it’s not me.  It’s just not how I look at life.  I love my smartphone, but it wouldn’t be the first thing I’d pull from a burning building, or the only thing I’d take to a desert island.  It wouldn’t even make the list, matter of fact.

So where does that leave me?  For the moment, I’m back at Starbucks, working a 4:30 – 8:30 a.m. opening shift a few times a week.  And to be perfectly honest, I’m getting a bit tired of defending the schoolyard bully, so to speak.  I’ve been with the company off and on for 10 years now, and never have I felt so ill at ease.  It’s making us a bit of extra income for now, but I’m hoping and praying to find a more fulfilling role for the long term.

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What that actually means is the tricky part.  It seems like everyone these days has a Master’s Degree, and a full resume of impressive experience.  I have neither.  I’m a 32 year-old mom, over 10 years out of college, a writer, a home cook, an amateur historian, a bargain hunter, a bad gardener, an even worse crafter, and a less-than-exemplary Christian.  I’d love to go back for another degree, or pursue some vein of independent study, but it’s just not practical right now.  (Literally.  I have a drooly toddler trying to climb my leg as I write this and my 5 year-old daughter just tripped over the rug and is screaming like a banshee.)

And let me just say, for the record, this is not the time to chime in and remind me that being a mom should fulfil my entire sense of purpose. I love my cheeky little ones as much as ever a mother could, but I believe wholeheartedly that I am a better mom and a better person if I am working, at least part time, outside the home.  More so when it’s a job I actually enjoy. Besides that, it is more and more evident that we will need to be a two income household to flourish here.  They like to charge a premium for all that sunshine. 🙂

I don’t have any answers for you (or me) at the moment.  To get back to the first theme in this post, I am a little shy, a little reserved, and there is very real inner struggle I face whenever I am forced to “sell myself” to prospective employers, especially since I’ve been out of the full-time career workforce for so long – since before I moved to Ireland in 2008.  I know I can do it – I just have to psych myself up a bit and put on a smile to calm my nerves.  But one thing I do know is that, in my stage of life, I don’t want to waste time away from my family in a job that is ultimately counter-productive.

If you’re hiring, why not let me be candid: you will find no one who will work as hard for you as I will.  I am passionate, and funny, thorough, and professional.  I am discreet.  I am independent and don’t need to be constantly monitored, but, despite my “introvert” tangent here, I do enjoy working with people.  I love learning.  Love it.  I do not need to be corrected more than once. I strive to anticipate my boss’s/clients’ needs, and I love the satisfaction of pleasing others with a job well done.  I think critically, and try to look at different approaches to solving problems. I’m kind of neurotic about organization.  I love to alphabetize things.  I’m just shy of ruthless when it comes to editing documents. I’ve done everything from dishwashing to legal transcription to talking to Hollywood executives about their favorite films.  I love the arts, and non-profits, the artisan food and drink industry, multi-cultural and international organizations, museums, schools, colleges, publications, and anything that makes you think about life and thank God you’re around to see it.  I’m looking for a position in a field where I can add value to the world around me.  Maybe that’s a tall order, but I know it can be done – I’ve been there before.  Please contact me – I’d truly love to hear from you.

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4 thoughts on “Laggardly Pursuits

  1. The struggle with keeping up with tech, the struggle to sell yourself, the struggle to pretend to care deeply about things that literally would not make your own “burning-house” list… I feel you so deeply.
    I’ll be leaving my current job in a few weeks for those reasons. I applaud you putting out there your excellent professional qualities in no uncertain terms. I hope I’m learning to do the same. I wish you the absolute best luck.

  2. Why are you being so mean to you? And what’s with this “laggard” garbage? Look at what you’ve done! You’ve held a family together through some downright hellish times; people with a lot more money and degrees would crumble going through half of what you have been through. You are not giving yourself nearly enough credit for your courage, strength, resilience and tenacity. You can walk into a new situation, whether it’s a new town or a completely different country, and work it out, even when it scares the living daylights out of you. When things aren’t working out, you are not afraid to completely change things up, moving across the world or across the country, even if you’ve no idea if it will work or not. Now that’s brave! Do you have any idea how many people there are out there who cannot do that, who would just hunker in place and let themselves just keep going down the drain? Why are you so determined not to give yourself any credit for that?

    You are in a very high tech area, and tech people tend to have a very narrow focus – on tech, of course. You need to look over their shoulders at the rest of the world. Like you, I’m one of those who doesn’t fit in the boxes. But first I had to realize that no, I didn’t fit in the boxes, get good with it – that really was the hardest part – and start figuring out how to build my own box. I wound up working as a nature educator at a county nature center, then for the National Park Service, and it was fabulous. My only regret was I didn’t do it a decade or two earlier, that I wasted so much time trying to fulfill other people’s expectations before I settled into myself.

    That last paragraph was also your battle plan. Check out the art centers, the museums, the non-profits. Go to the National Association for Interpretation’s web site. That’s where you’ll find the job listings for just those sort of organizations. But you need to follow your heart, not fret about some blasted “theory” put together by some MBA that wouldn’t know you from Adam’s off ox. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts his “innovations” would have looked completely different if he’d had to come up with them with a toddler hanging off his leg!

    • Thank you for your kind words and helpful thoughts. I suppose I didn’t mean to be so self-depriciating and was using the term “laggard” in the more traditional sense, as in I don’t jump on the bandwagon with what’s “new” and “hip,” but it does have sort of a negative note to it, almost like sluggard or the like. In any case, you are right, I/we have had to be very brave in our various moves etc. and I should give credit where it is due. I just need to figure out now how to make my skills work to my advantage. And I had never heard of the National Assoc. for Interpretation, so especially thanks for that.

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