What I Learned This Summer

In case you haven’t heard it through the grapevine, I finally got a new job. Phew! And a great big thank you to everyone who listened to me gripe, groan, and worry about my situation over the past few months.  I couldn’t have remained sane without you!

This past year was an experiment.  I took risks. I succeeded, and I failed.  Most importantly, I learned. I learned about a new job and a new industry in a new(old) town with new people.  But mostly I learned about me.

First, let me back-track to last fall. I had returned to my hometown of Richmond, Virginia earlier in the year and was working for a rapidly growing investment management firm.  The hours were insane and the emotional toll was more than I’d ever bargained for.  Instead of reconnecting with old friends and family, we were becoming increasingly estranged.   By late summer, I knew that none of this was working out the way I had envisioned.  Despite the fact that I still loved Richmond,  I no longer wanted to live there. And I desperately wanted out of the investment management biz.  So, I began moving my belongings back home to Staunton on the weekends, eventually sublet my city townhouse, and started the 3-4 hour daily commute between Richmond and Staunton.  Despite the commute, I was thrilled to be home again.

Fortunately, my area of the state has relatively low unemployment.  Unfortunately, good jobs outside of farming and manufacturing are few and far between. All I could think was that I wanted an easy job with set hours and minimal expectations. Luckily, a friend turned me on to a job in a court reporting firm about 30 minutes up the interstate from my house.  The pay was minimal, the conditions were tolerable, and the work was menial – just as I wanted.  So what went wrong?  Let me tell you what I learned about the professional side of me this summer.

  1. I need money. I don’t mind working for peanuts, but I have a limit.  Budgeting to the penny was fun for about 2 months. After that, all I could think about was what I was missing.  I am frugal, and I can make a dollar stretch a long way; but I need a little spending money, too.  Of course, I could have made it longer if I truly had to.  But it would not have been pretty.
  2. I need my benefits.  I promise you, I will never, EVER underestimate the value of health insurance again.  At the same time, I’m even more enraged over our system of employer-paid insurance, and I have no problem speaking my mind on the subject.  I am an educated, responsible, self-sufficient, tax-paying citizen of nearly 30 years. I have paid my dues. To be denied health insurance because my employer is indifferent and/or too self-centered is positively inhumane in my book.  But that’s another post.
  3. I like to use my brain.  I may not be a genius, and I might be grammatically impaired, but I’m no idiot.  I needed a break from my previous mind-bending position, but I think I took it just a step too far.  I can practically feel my grey matter atrophy on a daily basis.  I need to be challenged… just not past quittin’ time.
  4. I like being told I’m doing a good job.  I work hard, and I always attempt to leave my position  better than when I started. Too bad my recent employers only told me how valuable I was to them after I resigned.
  5. I need security. Granted, nothing in life is guaranteed. But I need my fair share of dependable, practical and boring security.  I honestly thought I was the kind of person who could strike out on my own and be completely free of corporate politics and questionable business practices.  I was wrong.
  6. I like being on a team.  Yup, the lone ranger likes her posse.  I like the interaction and the checks-and-balances of working with others toward a united goal.  I also find it far less stressful.  And I’m all about minimizing stress.
  7. I like being part of my community.  Staunton is such a great little town, yet I’ve never had the opportunity to be part of the community.  Occupational hazard of being a life-long commuter, I guess.  Can I just say how thrilled I am that I will be able to walk to work?!  I know it sounds hokey, but it’s a bit of a dream come true.
  8. I like dressing the part.  I actually miss wearing business (casual) attire.  Yes, Kristina, you heard me.  And I’ve got two new pairs of shoes to prove it.  And the word ‘Birkenstock’ does not appear on a single tag!  Now, I haven’t completely lost touch.  I have never worn a coordinated suit, and I have no intention of doing so. It’s just too Garanimals for my taste. But I do like differentiating my gardening rags from my business togs. It just makes me feel a little more….business-y.
  9. I HATE COMMUTING! Do I even need to elaborate? And, finally,
  10. I am fortunate.  This is the third time I’ve been offered a job in as many years.  I am acutely aware that there are people who would kill for just one job offer.  I am fortunate that my employers chose me. I am equally fortunate that I have the strength and wherewithal to leave bad working situations. And I am most fortunate to believe that things will only get better.

On October 22, I begin my new job in the trust department of a small local bank. As always, I have great expectations going in.  It’s already met several of my aforementioned criteria, and I haven’t even started yet.  I’ve had plenty of time to consider all the pros and cons, and really gauge whether or not this will be a good fit for me.  Here’s hoping I got it right this time!

6 thoughts on “What I Learned This Summer

  1. My dear dear friend….it is almost like you jumped in my head…except for 2 (I could write pages on the benefits of Partner benefits) & 9 (ask me in a year) these were all the things that ran through my thoughts of the past year however you were able to state so beautifully. There are no words to tell you just how insanely proud I am of you and all that you have accomplished. We may never know the reason someone is on our life path – but you honey – through the twists/turns/ups/downs are not allowed off mine! Oh and…I will take pride in the fact that I have taught you well on the fashion front!!!!

    1. Thank you again for all your support and advice. You have been a great comfort to me this year. And how fortunate to have someone with whom to share similar stories of success and failure! That said, I’m really looking forward to a non-eventful year next year. 🙂

  2. I literally cried with joy (and relief) when I got this job after being an independent contractor for three years. I had no idea how important those benefits were until I didn’t have them. I have a good feeling about this job and the whole situation. How exciting to live and work in the same small town. I expect big adventures from you this year!

  3. Me too! The best thing about being a non-commuter is that I’ll love taking weekend trips again. And I remember just how beaten down you were after reporting. Congrats for taking the risk, and congrats for finding a sweet job in a though market. Did you ever think the two of us would ever find our professional niche?! ***Please note that I’m already sure that this will be the perfect job for me. 🙂

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