According to my journal, a year and a half ago when January 2018 began, I had no idea what I wanted or what I wanted to do. And yet, I wrote plans like “get a semi big-kid job Monday-Friday,” “save money, and then go travel,” and “start writing your book.” So apparently, I did kind of know what I wanted. I just didn’t give myself credit.
I got the semi big-kid job. Except it was more big-kid than semi big-kid. And then, for a brief little while, I forgot about everything else. It’s not like travelling or writing completely left my mind, I always daydreamed about it, but it became less of a priority. Work was exciting and new and I was getting quite a few pats on the back which felt pretty good. Then all the sudden the daydreams became more frequent. The longing to travel and write took up more and more space in my mind until somehow I went from saying it might be cool to quit my job to booking a plane ticket and realizing, oh, I’m actually quitting my job aren’t I.
The reality hasn’t totally set in. It might not until I step foot on an airplane. But seeing as I’m a pretty sentimental person, I’m going to tell you at least part of the story of the last 15 months, including several journal entries I almost forgot about.
In March 2018, I began what I will forever refer to as my first big-kid job. (Seriously, I even included that line in my letter of resignation.) Equipped with my first pair of dress pants that I wouldn’t wear for more than about a month and a newfound fascination with a pay cheque that outdid minimum wage at a fruit market, I entered some kind of business world.
I’ve been writing most of my life, so it seemed only natural that I would get a job as a writer. When it became my job title, written on a business card and all, I remember feeling like I was finally legitimate. When people asked what I did, I could tell them I’m a writer, a real one.
My first few memories of my job surrounded a graphic designer with the most perfect quotes on her post-it notes, and two guys who seemed like they knew I might be a little bit naive.
At my first beer Friday, I poured a modest glass of red wine and watched my boss fill her glass up further. When she went for a second round, I figured I might as well too. I left the office pretty tipsy.
March 30th/2018 – Excerpt from my journal.
This is your tentative plan. You’re going to keep doing whatever you’re doing right now, for the next year. Until next summer – next May. You’re going to work hard at your awesome job, you’re going to live in your cozy laneway house, and be thankful for the amazing city you live in. You’re going to put health first and focus on getting to a physically and emotionally stable place. And then a year from now, when you’ve worked really hard at all of this, you can decide what’s next. You can spend that summer travelling and you can move to Toronto at the end of it, if that’s what you want. But you don’t have to decide that right now. You don’t have to think about it, and you shouldn’t. Enjoy everything that’s in front of you right now. You are so blessed to have all that you do. Act like it.
Damn, Ash. You really know what to say to yourself. Quite frankly, I forgot all about this plan, but parts of it really came through.
For one, my job was pretty awesome. Tough and tiring at times, a mixture of a surprising array of emotions, but overall well worth the time spent trying to figure it out.
The laneway house truly is incredibly cozy. I’m packing it up right now, which feels timely, but nonetheless it will be a difficult goodbye when I leave this place.
I still love this city. In fact, the very idea of moving to Toronto disappeared the moment my relationship ended last Spring. I’ve found home out here in Vancouver, at least for my foreseeable future.
The health stuff, okay, here’s the thing. I wanted this to be my get-your-shit-together-year, and then I learned that you can’t completely get your shit together in some 12-month designated time span you assign yourself. So instead, I made progress in a few areas. Fell back in some others. I’m still working on pretty much everything. But despite my frequent inability to give myself some necessary recognition, I’ve come very far, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished. The part about getting to an emotionally stable place, we’ll just say that stable is a relative term.
As for the travelling part, well, I’ve got several plane tickets so far and a few more to come.
Last summer I took my first-ever paid vacation. I was heading back to Ontario for my Uncle’s wedding and to spend some much-needed time with my family. My time there was perfect, and brief. When I came back to Vancouver, I was excited to go back to work. I’ve never felt that before and honestly, I didn’t think it was possible.
There was a period of time where I absolutely loved my job. There might have been a hint of naivety mixed into that, but for the most part those feelings were real.
Excerpts from my journal and comments from today.
“I’m kinda good at my job.” Overall, this is true, and I needed to give myself more credit.
“What on earth am I doing?” I mean, who isn’t thinking this from time to time?
“I love my job.” Also true, in a lot of ways, for a good chunk of time.
“Why am I still here?” Some days were better than others.
“Will I get fired for that?” Nope, probably not. Definitely not.
“Who’s getting fired next?” Good question! Stop watching meeting rooms like a hawk.
“The sales team.” A lot of sentences involved “the sales team.”
“Is there anyone not hooking up?” A likely 97% of people, were not hooking up.
“Let’s go to Cousteau.” The best Slack message you could receive.
“How on earth do you ask for a raise?” A valid question.
“Are we getting bribed to work?” Maybe, but it’s exciting, isn’t it?
“Does anyone else care they got fired?” Not really, they’ve seen worse before.
“Is this corrupt or corporate?” I mostly just like the way this sounds.
“I’m not cut out for this whole career-thing.” Could be true, probably not though.
“I’m not going to beer Friday this week.” I didn’t go for quite a while.
“Let’s go to beer Friday this week.” Annnnd, I went back.
“Should I still be a jr.?” Probably not.
“I am definitely not a jr.” Note to self: work on persistency.
Let me tell you about my favourite place in the whole office. Cousteau.
Cousteau is the little studio room on the 7th floor. It’s also a sanctuary. A lovely little place where you go with your close friend to lie on the ground for 10 minutes and talk about life. We talked about relationships and raises. Mistakes we made and things we were worried about. Mostly we boosted each other up with compliments until I was nervous that I had been away from my desk for a little too long. I’m incredibly thankful to this little hideaway and the people I shared it with.
Excerpt from my work notebook.
The thing I’ve learned about work – or the place you work – is that you do life there. The good, the bad, the ugly – work related or not. You go through life in the office. Even if you leave everything at the door when you come in. You’re still you, still human, and so is everyone else, too.
A collection of special memories.
The birth of Gretch & Brit.
Who knew all it would take was 2/3rds of the office leaving for Phoenix?
Bananas, strawberries, and whipped cream. Tequila on the 5th floor. Chipped paint and the mystery of the dad-sunglasses.
June 29th, 2018.
To everyone who made that day special (and all you badasses who broke the rules and took the heat – special reminder to not post photos next time.)
Marketing Fitness Plans.
Shout out to the Marketing team for keeping up with wall-sit competitions and planks for a little while, and keeping things interesting.
An Absolutely Terrible Day.
And going out for drinks afterwards to hug it out.
Some thoughts on just a few of the people I met.
Her desk will always be a mess and her desktop background would give most people a migraine. But the quotes on her sticky-notes will get you through any tough days as a newbie. She’s the life of the party. Everybody’s cheerleader. My cheerleader. She deserves an award, for honestly anything. I don’t know what I would have done without her.
Answers every single question. Knows everything – e v e r y t h i n g. Could have been a detective. She’ll do her best to pretend she’s not a fan of you but one time she invited you over for brunch so now you get to call her bluff.
She has “golddigger” on her playlist, lives in a home that’s taken right out of a Pinterest board (for example, my own Pinterest board), and I’d love to know her story. She only ever hints at it.
A quirky sense of humour and maybe a bit of oblivion towards it. He has kind eyes, a good smile, a presumably genuine heart, and probably a great relationship with his mom.
The One Who Always Smiles.
Thank you, for always smiling. For not being surprised the one time I cried. & for always having the best photos.
A tough exterior with a kind heart. Taught me a lot of what I knew about doing my job and, indirectly, that being a writer and longing to travel often come as a package deal.
You told me that I’ll never find a job that’s perfect. That instead I should look for a leader I respect, and a team I enjoy being a part of. With that in mind, I had everything I could have asked for in my job, and I am grateful.
To a variety of people who left.
You opened my eyes to a lot of both good and bad – intentionally and unintentionally. I didn’t always know how to feel about it. I still don’t. But I can say with confidence that the office was not the same after each of you were gone, at least not for me.
Also, specifically, to the people who called me Clifford (before I found out you were calling me Clifford). You made me feel excited about my new and nerve-racking job the first week. Thank you.
Between July and October of 2018, I stopped writing – writing here, on my blog, for myself. Then again between October and now. I take full responsibility, but I’m trying to switch things up now. A while ago I scribbled down a note that I would never work a job (or date a guy) that made me too busy for my own writing. I’m not sure it’s always going to be that simple – priorities can change and frankly, I’m glad I gave up this part of me for the experience I had at this job – but right now, this year, this summer, it is that simple.
Writing is how I understand the world around me. It’s how I make sense of other people and how I make sense of myself. It’s how I’ve pulled myself out of some of the darkest and scariest times of my life. Sometimes, it’s how I pray. Not writing, feels a lot like holding my breath.
At work I learned how to write about the MSP industry. I learned what an API is (to some extent) and how to explain some super incredible features that I occasionally didn’t fully understand. I learned a little bit here and there about acquisitions – about transparency – about leadership and power relationships. I learned a little bit about dating a coworker, but not the lesson you might think. I learned a lot about trust – about work-based friendships and those that go beyond office walls. I learned what to look for in a team and realized I could be incredibly proud of the one I was on.
That’s not even that half of it, so you’ll just have to trust me when I say that I learned more in the past 15 months than I could have possibly imagined – not all of that took place within the office, but a lot of it did. Not all of that had to do writing either, most of it didn’t.
I also met some of the most amazing, creative, weird, and passionate individuals. People who encouraged me to try new things and were always there to answer an abundance of questions. Friendships that didn’t and won’t end at the office doors.
I have more questions than I do answers right now. I’m hoping that the next several months spent travelling and digesting what I’ve experienced will provide some clarity on how I feel and perhaps what I want to look for next. But I know there are no guarantees. So with that said, my goal isn’t to figure it all out. That’s not going to happen. Rather, my goal is simply that I get back to writing about all of these questions that are stirring in my mind, their lack of answers, and all the things I’m searching for, here, on my blog.
To everyone I met in my first big-kid job: I can’t thank you enough.