“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are” (Part 1 of 2)

I came across this quote in, of all places, a So You Think You Can Dance episode. (note: I have no idea if SYTYCD episodes are a good place to come across quotes, because I never watch it–we stumbled across this particular episode by chance while doing some channel surfing on hulu one afternoon.) But I liked it enough that I actually made my partner stop and rewind so that I could write it down. 

My One Little Word for the year is “Forward”. I’ve heard about the idea of having a word for the year for several years now, but this is probably the first time that I chose a word and really made it stick. In December/January, when I was thinking about choosing a word, I wasn’t in a great spot, personally, professionally. I was struggling with depression and feeling stuck. I had been out of graduate school for a year and a half, and working two part-time jobs to (just barely) make ends meet. I had health insurance and a regular paycheck, so even though I was struggling, and not happy, I didn’t have the strong kick in the butt I needed to motivate myself. So I chose “Forward” for my word, and when I chose that word, the forward motion I saw for myself was finding a new, full-time job.

Ever since my time as an undergraduate working in the Smith College Museum of Art, I had a very clear vision of what my future would hold. I thought I’d work in museums the rest of my life–I loved working in museums. After several years working outside the museum field, I went back to graduate school as a way to fulfill that vision. And graduate school was an amazing, life-changing experience.

But when I started looking for jobs after graduate school, nothing seemed quite right. I found a part-time position that came with full benefits and a fair amount of flexibility, doing something that was not terribly challenging, but was fun and mostly enjoyable. I thought I would stay there until the perfect full-time position came along–6 months, maybe a year at most.

Instead of a perfect full-time position, I found a perfect part-time position about 6 months later. (This was early 2013.) It wasn’t ever going to pay the bills, it was only 15-20 hours a week, but when I saw the job posting I (very literally) pointed at it, and said “I want that job, that job is perfect.”

Of course, I procrastinated sending in my application until the very last day, and then was on pins and needles waiting. A couple of days after the day I was supposed to hear back, I was convinced I hadn’t gotten it because I hadn’t gotten a response. Then I searched my inbox and found that gmail had incorrectly categorized a general response email saying that the selection process was going to take a little bit longer than originally expected. I was delighted a week later when I was contacted for an interview.

Long story short(er, anyway), I got the job, and it was just as perfect as I thought–I loved it, they loved me back, and I thrived. The work was both challenging and fulfilling, and for the first time in a long time, I felt like my skills and strengths were truly able to shine. And the fact that I was so happy in this position made me re-evaluate what I wanted out of my career.

I love engaging with visitors in a museum–that three-way conversation that happens between the visitor, myself, and the artwork (or the object). I always will. I love working in museums, getting to see the galleries before everyone else comes in, or examine a piece of artwork in a conservation lab, where you can get so close you can literally touch it (as long as you’re wearing gloves, of course).

And yet, there was something missing. I had been casually looking at a wide variety of job postings in museum ed for over a year, and almost nothing was hitting the “that job is perfect” button for me. In fact, the closest that came was a position for “Digital Project Manager” (which also ended up being the nicest rejection letter I’ve ever received.)

So by the end of 2013, I decided that I was going to expand my search, and look outside of the museum field. And with “forward” in the back of my mind, urging me on, I applied for a couple of jobs, did a couple of interviews, but nothing came of it, until, in April, I found a job posting that absolutely hit “this job is perfect”. I said it, when family members heard about it, they said it… and despite some serious snafus during the application process, I ended up getting it!

I’ve been at the new job for just over three months now. It is perfect. It’s flexible, there’s a nice mix of challenging and yet familiar work, I’m able to do some things I love but have never gotten to do before (podcasts!), and in just the last month, I’ve even been able to start take on some new responsibilities (writing the newsletter!). The team I work with is great, there are free snacks and juice at work, and when that isn’t enough to convince me to face a 3 hour roundtrip commute (bus and metro), I can just as easily work from home.

And all of that was meant to be the first paragraph or two of what this post was really supposed to be about… But since that was such a journey in it’s own right, I think I’m going to break this story up into two parts. Stay tuned–part 2 will come on Tuesday.

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One thought on ““We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are” (Part 1 of 2)

  1. Pingback: “We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are” (Part 2 of 2) | Wingcolor

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