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Fear of Mediocrity

24 Jan

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Mediocrity is a word that I’ve feared before I even knew how to pronounce it.  Ever since teachers began scribbling grades on assignments and I had classmates to compare my performance with, I’ve always unconsciously sprinted in the opposite direction of mediocrity.  If you were a product of my household then you would bring home nothing less than excellence or face some dire consequences.  From childhood throughout my intermediate studies and experiences, the thought that I may in fact be mediocre never crossed my mind.  No, this was not due to the millennial byproduct  Special Snowflake Syndrome, but rather being raised under the rule that producing what is expected of you (excellence) does not qualify for reward(s).  However, as I continue to get older and am surrounded by unmatchable personalities in real life and on the Internet, I find myself thinking… do I reek of mediocrity?

Mediocrity certainly moves within a multi-dimensional space depending on the one defining, the surrounding people who help influence that definition, and other factors.  There are plenty of occasions though, in which it is very clear that mediocrity is the standard and the apex.  Surrounding myself with people who surpass me intellectually, spiritually, physically, culturally, etc. guarantees in the least that I’ll constantly be striving for something greater than my current self.  This then begs to ask, will I continuously find the present version of myself mediocre?  Or possibly, it is not that I will find myself mediocre as a whole, but the results of any efforts I put fourth as so.  It is possible that extraordinary persons can create ordinary work without being reduced to mediocre as a whole.  Is the person who can acknowledge, interpret, and discuss seen and unseen components in extraordinary works just as valuable as the creator, or are they doomed to remain in the category of mediocre?  Cue the phrase “those who can’t do, teach” (not something necessarily I agree with).

If mediocrity is largely subjective and unfixed, is it ever possible to transcend it?  I suppose if you find yourself walking in shoes similar to Steve Jobs or The Dalai Lama then this isn’t even an issue (if it is an issue).  But what about the rest of the regular folk out there, how do we transcend?  The Internet has allowed for every user to become a producer making it increasingly difficult to appear a little more than mediocre.  Thought Catalog kind of ushered in the era of “everyone is a philosopher with something important to say”, which eventually triggered an avalanche of rewarded mediocrity.  This rewarded mediocrity then gets absorbed by millions of mediocre people and so on and so fourth.  But if the work brings in funds then there really is no reason to change approach in the business sense.  Morally though, holy shit we are incubating a generation of kids who will fear critical thinking.  I am probably exaggerating though, but I digress.

However mediocrity be defined, a latent fear will always remain no matter what success I reach.  The more time it takes for me to reach different levels of success, the more I consider myself mediocre.  Maybe this speaks upon my self-confidence.  I think as long as one stays motivated to progress towards goals, continuously raises personal standards, and observes and acknowledges genius, then that is all you can do as a responsible human being; mediocre or not.  If skill (and luck) have it you become a trailblazer, then what a blessing from the Universe.

The Art of Rejection

22 Dec

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After sitting in my drafts for a bit I’ve yet to come up with any new, profound points about experiencing and consequently rising above rejection.  I’ve also been temporarily paralyzed by my (most recent) personal meeting with rejection.  Hopefully I avoid sounding like a whiney millennial because… none of those are here right now.

In the last two weeks I made it to the final round of candidates for a dream position of sorts, had quite the encouraging interview (with encouraging activity from the interviewers), and waited for a week in high but realistic spirits.  A week later I was smacked in the face with the most generic rejection email.  It was almost as though I had never talked with anyone affiliated with the organization.  I refreshed my inbox several times to insure I did not read the message incorrectly.  But of course, there it was, the rejection just comfortably sitting there–mocking me.

It’s almost comical how many instances of rejection we will experience in our lifetime.  That little girl didn’t want to hold your hand in the sandbox.  Your body rejected your first navel piercing.  The girl with a constellation of freckles (damn I’m sounding like Thought Catalog…) and honey eyes politely rejected your offer to take her on a date.  Your professor rejected the topic for your final paper.  Your dream job and others like it send you a sugary coated e-reject on a weekly basis.  The list infinitely continues.  Rejection is the gift that keeps on giving (among the other “gifts” that keep on giving).  Yes, it is a gift if you take the necessary steps and use it as a catalyst for growth and success!

Here are my steps:

Step 1 is a completely natural response to disappointment and should not be skipped.  After every other failure comes back to haunt you,  I think it’s appropriate to spend a short amount of time acknowledging your sadness.  What a great way to remind yourself that you have feelings, meaningful goals that you would like to accomplish, and have made efforts to reach them.

I find myself suspended in step 2 whether or not I’m going through the stages of rejection.  I know my generation is supposedly stuck in the “existential vacuum” and I am completely corroborating that notion.  However, existential does not necessarily equal nihilistic, apathetic, or lazy–which are additional terms that often get thrown into the vortex of immobile millennials.  

Step 3 is somewhat like a passive rebellious phase for me. My mind begins conjuring up images of me traveling to exotic destinations and being transparent; rejecting western values, corporate America, and the white picket fence portrait (Note:  I already generally reject these notions to lesser degrees).  Ultimately, I am all bark and no bite.

Alas, the light at the end of the rejection tunnel reveals itself as step 4 slaps you back into reality.  Your friends and friendly strangers are there bandaging your wounds, giving you lollipops, and offering you all kinds of next steps that never even crossed your mind.  Confidence regenerates and you’re feeling stronger than ever.  You even appreciate the rejection because with it came experience and evidence that you are trying to level up in life.

Leveling up requires the final step of getting back out there.  Change your approach and typical patterns that seem to result in rejection.  Maybe there’s a different strategy or perspective you did not consider because it’s unfamiliar to you.  Tweaking your routine will yield other results and get you one step closer to that life goal.

This is the simple way in which I experience rejection.  I probably sound dramatic but it’s not my fault because I’m involuntarily hyper-aware of my emotions. Embrace rejection.  You were rejected for a reason so kindly thank the Universe for nudging you in more correct directions.

I Hope I Have A (Longterm) Lesbian Co-Worker One Day

12 Aug

Adulthood.  What an intimidating word.  Images of bills, endless responsibility, distancing friendships, and full-time+ work.  Eventually your coworkers become a family of sorts  because you spend the majority of your time with them.  I genuinely consider many of my coworkers (past and present) a part of my family.  They make me feel safe, they give me confidence, confide in me, share things with me, and make me laugh.  These things are great, but there always feels like something is missing.  Like I can’t be myself completely because they just won’t understand an important part of me, and that is no fault of theirs.

I’ve held a job since I was old enough to drive myself back and fourth to work during the summers.  Out of those 7 years I’ve only had one open-ish LGBTQ coworker, and the experience was unlike any other I’ve had.  We only worked together for a few months before she left, but I cherished our time together.  We could talk freely and openly about our lady experiences together.  I know it’s possible to have that conversation with heterosexual coworkers, but the same connection and understanding would be impossible to have.

For all my heterosexual readers: Imagine that you worked in an environment where you were the only heterosexual identifying employee.  How would that make you feel?  How would you feel listening to two men talk about their night at a gay club, or girlfriends talking about where (or what… hehe) they ate the previous night?  Maybe they share stories about being discriminated against because they held hands walking down the street or the people they’re attracted to.  Maybe you wouldn’t feel so out of place the first time.  But imagine that happening repeatedly five days a week for 3 decades.  You possibly start longing for an acquaintance.  Someone who can uniquely relate to your experiences.

I dream of working in a corporation where my boss identifies as LGBT or at least a handful of coworkers.  I’m sure their sexuality would be non-factor in business operations, but I would feel an unspoken connection and pride working for/with them.  My heart would swell with joy knowing I could be wholly myself and talk about my troubles without worrying about the consequences or unsolicited and inappropriate commentary.  I dream of working with professional lesbians because I don’t know any.  Everyone likes a role model, and I am no different.  I’d love nothing more than Bette Porter ordering me around the office or Ellen Degeneres critiquing me on what I could improve upon, while Lena and Stef have lunch with me.  Hell, I’d even take out J. Crew president Jenna Lyons telling me how disgusting my style is.  I think you get my point by now.

Now… I’m sure my chances of ever working with a lesbian in a workplace resembling corporate America ( not as dusty or traditional) is very slim.  Until then I’ll just continue my journey of finding some really good lesbian girlfriends.  Still don’t have any of those either.  Actually there is one girl and she’s awesome and understands the way my brain works and she’s currently dating a girl so we share things.  Baby steps people.  Keep hope alive.

Love who you love.

The Job Search, Sexuality, & Résumé Points

6 Mar

I am and have been knee deep in the most frustrating race I’ve encountered thus far in my 23 years of breathing: the job search.  While I know I’m stuck in a rut just like many other recent grads, my anxiety is growing with the next wave of new graduates looming on the horizon.  However, unlike many other grads and soon-to-be grads I have the fortune of having no student debt hanging over my head dictating all my future decisions.  My lack of student debt allows me to have endless freedom for my future and yet I’m still here working my restaurant job in the meantime until I find something, (almost) anything, that pays a wage I think worthy of a University graduate.  Is that selfish of me?  Possibly.  Does this put me into the category of that “self-entitled 20 something who has no right to be choosy for their first post-graduate job?”  I don’t think so because as I said previously I’m currently working in a restaurant so obviously I’m taking any position.

Résumés are funny because to all the people who are not in hiring positions, they look exemplary.  To all the people you’re sending your résumé to, you don’t fulfill the credentials they’re looking for.  What are they looking for?  I think my résumé possibly lacks “professional” experience but definitely not experience.  The thing listed on my résumé that worries me most is my inclusion on a LGBT committee while I was in school.  I choose to list it because I believe my position in that organization truly helped mould me into the person I am today.    The other day I asked a few people if listing a LGBTQ organization on my résumé was a mistake and I did not hear the answers I was hoping to.  All of them essentially said that leaving it on there could possibly hinder me from obtaining a position with a company.  If shattering hearts were an audible sound I think the entire neighborhood would’ve heard mine.

 It’s inexplicably frustrating knowing that wherever I go in my future that my sexuality could be a factor in determining whether or not I achieve something.  I shouldn’t be too upset I know, because I would certainly not want to even consider a company that has issues with sexuality and gender identity.  However, it is always in the back of my mind whether or not I get denied because of the inclusion of a LGBT organization written on paper.  If I get to the interview portion, the worry then transfers from my sexuality to my race as I am not white.  While we can all live in a fantasy land pretending that prejudice does not exist, the sad truth is that it does and is practiced silently by numerous companies and organizations.

Although it was recommended that I take my position on the LGBT education board off my résumé, I don’t think I will.  I’d rather remain jobless I suppose than have to lie about the things I’m passionate for and what I was involved with.  I can only have faith that the right eyes or company will come across my presence in the world.  Until then I’ll keep on marching along with the rest of the unemployed graduates who may not have my same fears and concerns, but comprehend how defeating the search is; especially when your inbox is filled with at least 3 emails stating “we’re sorry but we cannot consider you for a position” a day.

P.S. if anyone does have any leads to LGBT positions or companies that would appreciate the diversity and perspective, let me know!