Tuesday, May 21, 2013

What Defines You?

I start a new job on Tuesday, which is to say it’s a freelance gig, but I am so excited nonetheless. Some of you may know that I’ve been out of work for north of six months. A lot can happen in six months. An unbelieveable lot. When you are working full-time, sometimes the idea of being unemployed even for a short time takes on a rosy, sort of romantic glow. It seems delicious, doesn’t it? But no, it isn’t what you imagine. I did not once, contrary to one thoughtless question, spend my days eating bon bons and watching soap operas. I worked full-time, and then some, at networking and finding a new place to hang my hat. I went to the gym almost daily where I learned that Regina Spektor’s complex song ‘All The Rowboats’ deftly synchronized the movements of everyone in the gym, from people on ellipticals and bikes as well as weight-lifters. When you are a designer, you impose patterns where they are not always evident. I went to my ballet and modern dance classes, where I made progress, and made friends. I became a human rolodex, having coffee, lunch, dinner and wine with acquaintances and strangers alike, listening and sharing bits of myself, and gaining a little from each person I met. I went to networking events at 7:00am and at 9:00pm. I wore nametags, and shook hands with authors as well as young women in high school. I memorized my elevator speech better than Prospero’s final speech in The Tempest, which I had to learn in high school English class. I weeded my closet. I weeded my closet again. I helped a friend conceptualize a bridal show. I renewed and nurtured a friendship with an old colleague who was also recently displaced. I hung a painting in a gallery, with their permission no less. I interviewed for jobs I did not want just for the experience of interviewing. I built an online portfolio. And then another. I participated in a hundred webinars, on networking, resumes, professional marketing plans, and interviewing. I learned who my friends are. I do not mean that as a sideways slur against anyone who might not be a friend. I got more encouragement and support than I deserve, and people came out of the woodwork to introduce me to someone who might be helpful to know. Friends went on walks with me, and took me out for pizza and beer and let me ramble. I sent more ‘thank you’ chocolate through the US Postal Service than any non-commercial enterprise in US history. I ran in the Komen Race for the Cure for the first time (Thank you Stephanie and Team Perez!), after working at the event for several years. (Okay, “ran” is a misleading, but I gave it an honest go.) There were small miracles around every corner, opportunities for me to grow and to learn humility. I learned that, while I love what I do, my job alone does not define me. I have green eyes, a quirky sense of humor, and can make a meaner granola than the gal who works at the health food store. I like lavender, chocolate and singing in the car. Orange is currently my favorite color. And I can do hard things. These are the things that define me.


Shannon said...

It sounds like you've done an amazing amount of soul-searching. And what a beautiful soul it is! You are genuinely, perfectly awe-inspiring. And kinda freakin' awesome. I miss you Peach!

Rita Finn said...

I miss you bunches, Shannon Louise. Let's catch up soon?

Anonymous said...

Rita, I'm not surprised you gave everything in your quest for new employment. And along the way you discovered the old and new Rita Sue. I didn't doubt it for a minute!! Edna Louise

Martin Pratt said...

Just when I think you cannot surprise me, you do. I am blessed to have spent part of the journey with you and to know the funny and quirky person you really are.

Things happen for a reason and you took your lemons and made a great batch of margaritas

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