Today marks the end of an era in my life. It is my last official day working in accounting (at least for the foreseeable future). It’s been 10 years since I got behind a desk taking a simple secretarial job never dreaming it would dictate the next decade of my life. I still can’t believe it!
If you had asked me when I was growing up or even in college if I would work in accounting for 10 years I would have said you were nuts. I’ve always been cluttered and bad at math. Little did I know that accounting actually has very little to do with math. It has everything to do with routines and organizing data.
In some ways it was a good career for me and maybe not a surprise I ended up there. I am great with routines and am extremely fast at data entry. I am also someone that can do the same thing over again and not grow tired of it. I could eat the same thing, see the same movie and be fine. That part of accounting never bothered me.
What was difficult was I seemed to be prone to errors especially at the beginning because it was all new. It seemed at first I was inventing new ways all the time on how to mess up the check run (I can’t believe no check runs! Wow!). These mistakes were always caught by one check and balance or another but it was still humiliating and it didn’t help that my manager at the time rubbed them in my face and made me feel ashamed of my work.
She was the wicked witch of my life. Not only the worst boss I’ve ever had but one of the worst people. She manipulated me (and everyone else) so that I found myself apologizing when I had actually done good work. Imagine what it was like when I made mistakes. I put up with her for 3 years because I lacked the courage to quit my job but finally in December 2007 I had enough! In one of my proudest moments I walked out and into nothing to begin the great economic year of 2008 (seriously who quits their job in 2008. That’s how bad it was). Kierkegaard talks about the great leap of faith and how it has to be perfect or it is illogical to believe. That moment in my life was as close as I’ve ever gotten to the perfect leap. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind it was the right thing to do.
Everything good that has happened to me in my life has been a response to that leap including starting this blog! I was unemployed and decided in May 2008 to blog how I was feeling. Honestly I felt like I needed healing after such an intense period (some of you may think I’m exaggerating but it was a time of deep depression and anxiety for me working in that job. Only God knows how tough it really was).
At that time I graduated from my MBA and thought I would go work in marketing or maybe human resources but over 40 interviews and nothing. My Dad asked me if I wanted to help manage his properties and I did that full time for about a year (thanks Dad!). I learned that even if I was doing some accounting work I was happier working from home and being my own boss. I felt free and it was exhilarating. I also moved to Draper during this time.
Then I got the offer to work part time in marketing for Grabber, which I did giving at warmers at local events (remember my old Grabber van?). But that was quickly dissolved and they needed help with accounting so back I went but this time I was working from home which was pretty good.
My next boss Kevin was a delight and I began working full time for Impact, Grabber and my brother’s new company Poler. I would go up to Syracuse, Utah once a week and print checks and do other mind numbingly boring tasks that nobody in all 3 companies wanted to do. That’s the history of my time in accounting. Because I was so fast if there was someone who didn’t want to do something I would get the job which was generally okay with me. One of the worst projects was entering 27,000 lines of inventory into quickbooks for Impact. So boring! (it was then that I got into podcast listening because it distracted me a little bit without being too much).
Then the company’s were sold and Kevin moved over to exclusively Impact while I stayed working for Grabber and Poler. Each week I did more and more for Poler until I was working for Grabber only managing their sales tax. I became the queen of sales tax.
Then they sold Poler and eventually Grabber was sold to Kobayashi. In 2013 I went from working at Grabber to Poler full time and then to part time last summer. My boss at Poler is a woman named Kelly and she is a total delight. I will really miss working with her. The part time work was a little bit of a safety net as I am working 30 hours in my marketing work for Kobayashi and it gave me a full 40 hours with Poler but it feels good to sever the ties and focus solely on my new job. (well except for my Dad’s rentals).
The problem with all of this work is it was never ending. I was grateful for it but because I worked from home there was no separation between my life and work and if I didn’t do certain things they just didn’t get done. In the case of accounts payable that is a major problem or payroll. It has to get done! So there was many a time when I was sick as a dog and printing out checks or entering data into a computer in Hawaii or California. It was also sometimes hard to go home because my father was my boss and it meant I couldn’t relax because I was always working or thinking about work. No breaks.
But I got to work from home so it was worth it. The very idea of going to back ‘cubicle Hell’ as I like to call it makes me nauseous. It will be very tough for me after working from home for the last 7 years. I pray every day that nothing will change in that department.
Fortunately things are looking great in my new marketing job and I really feel like I have scored the job lottery. I couldn’t be more happy. Every day I am learning new things and honing my craft. It is so satisfying!
I am nothing but grateful for those years in accounting. It was a journey I needed to go on and it sustained me for 10 years. It helped me buy my home and do so many amazing things. I never felt completely whole doing accounting and had decided it was just a compromise I was going to have to make in life. It was the card I had been dealt career-wise and at a certain point (8 years in!) you have to accept what God has given you and not be miserable all the time.
So I am grateful but getting this new job has taught me to always maintain a sliver of hope. Good things do come to those who wait and work in the sphere God has set them in. I wasn’t anticipating a career change. It came out of nowhere but like I said it has been a dream come true.
And now one door is closed and another is 100% starting, no safety net. I hope I can eventually be made full time with my new career but I will wait patiently and do my very best. In some ways it is actually nice having 10 more hours a week to do personal projects like my youtube channel (but I want the 40 don’t get me wrong!). There are times and seasons for everything and just like my accounting career morphed and changed I’m sure this new job will do the same. I can’t wait to see where it takes me!
10 years of accounting is done! Hurray! (I don’t know if anyone but me will read this rambling post but it is my story which I needed to write out). Sure love you guys and to 10 years of marketing!
I’ve sat down to write this blog several times but each time abandoned the attempt because the words I created felt unsatisfactory.
As you all know 3 weeks ago I started my dream job. After nearly 10 years of accounting I am now in marketing, which may seem like a nominal change but to me it is huge. It’s creative, interactive and something I am actually pretty confident in (I was competent in accounting but was always a little out of my league).
A few weeks ago I asked my facebook group (which if you aren’t a member of please like my page. It would really help me out https://www.facebook.com/smilingldsgirlreviews) what they would like me to blog about. One of my favorite followers asked me if I had any advice on how she could get her dream job and what I did in my interview/resume process that helped.
This seems like it should be a pretty easy question to answer. After all, it just happened so why not just say what happened. Here’s the rub about that, was it just luck and timing and if so how can I give advice on that?
Well, here’s my attempt at requested advice:
1. Timing and Paying Dues-
Perhaps this is a cop out to have as advice but in setting any worthy goal we must also be aware of God’s timing. Think about relationships. I can do everything right to meet someone and if it is not God’s time for me to have that experience it won’t happen.
The same holds true for your dream job. You can have the perfect interview and resume and if it is not the right timing it won’t work out. I know because I tried to get into marketing in 2008 and got nowhere. I ended up back in accounting until the time was right.
I also believe that in life rarely is anything handed to you on a silver platter. When we want something good typically God requires something of us in return. I call that paying dues.
For example, on my mission I went through a period of about 3 months that were hell. A companion who hated me and made my life miserable, new area, no contacts, extreme loneliness. It was intensely awful. One of the hardest experiences of my life.
However, I pushed through and after that time period I had the best companionships of my mission and helped 7 amazing people get baptized. I don’t think God would have blessed me with those experiences if I had not paid the dues in the tough months.
It’s the same in the work world or in our families. Some blessings come with a cost we must pay, with dues that must be met. So, if things don’t go your way put your head down and keep trying and working as hard as you can where you are and when it’s right it will happen. Took me nearly 10 years!
2. Take Risks-
I am not a high risk person. Just ask my investment broker, I get very nervous with the unknown (hence my anxiety issues…) and want to keep my money as safe as possible.
That said- any good thing in life will require some risk. If you decide to have kids, risk. If you decide to buy a home, risk. If you decide to change your job, risk. There was and is a lot of risk with this new job for me. There was risk in spending money on boxes and my channel. There was risk in devoting time and effort into making them as good as they could be. There was risk in putting myself out there for the world to see, being vulnerable and authentic.
Here’s the key to taking those risks- they were all risks I could stomach even if I hadn’t gotten the job. The fact I did makes the pay day extra sweet but any risk I’ve taken has been a great blessing in my life. I’ve been so grateful for this blog for 6 years , long before I thought it might lead to a new career. So, take risks, manageable risks, but take them!
It was also a risk to take the job. I was making a little more in my old job and it meant juggling 2 jobs instead of 1 and giving up my health insurance. It has all worked out but it was a risk- one I was glad to take. They could have told me it was an unpaid internship for the first 6 months and I would have taken it. I was looking for that door in and I took it!
Some people might have found it difficult going from a job where I was pretty important to a part time, contractor position, starting from scratch in new company. In truth, it can be kind of overwhelming but also exciting. I feel young with a new enthusiasm I haven’t felt for years. I am happy to be at the bottom clawing my way up but for some that would be risky prospect.
3. Resumes and Content Creation
Even for someone as open as myself, the self-promotion aspect of a job interview can be daunting. How do you make yourself unique and different but not too unique and different that it is off-putting.
I find if I can change it from self-promotion to simply ‘talking about my life’ it feels more natural and easy going. Even though I stayed in accounting for nearly 10 years I worked for different companies during that time (6 if you include my Dad’s rentals). So, I found myself looking at my resume every 6 months or so, sometimes more. Keeping it up to date and had correct reference phone numbers and that the information was still relevant.
I also started an online resume at http://about.me/smilingldsgirl which is free and looks very snazzy. Make sure on your resume you have listed your skills for the job you currently have and the job you want to have. And if you need those skills get them. Take courses, learn on your own time and then add that knowledge to your resume.
This job opportunity came out of nowhere so it was very helpful I had my resume ready to go. I had also given some thought into what content I was the most proud of. Even with open book living I have never produced content I was ashamed of. Every last post I stand behind and that includes twitter and youtube and everything else.
When given the chance I knew what posts were my best and emailed them to my future boss. I had one post I loved for it’s writing, another for the comments and discussion it encouraged, another for the hard worker it described. Have such content ready to go. Create a spreadsheet where you keep track of such things because after nearly 900 blog posts the good one’s can be tough to remember.
It is so easy nowdays to do so much on your own and I’d say why not? If you always wanted to get into movies than start a movie blog. It doesn’t have to be intense just every week or so write a post about movies you like. Keep it fun and control the tone of your comments section and content and do not do it to make money. Do it to become the person you want to be and the world may or may not pay you for that conversion but does that really matter? If you are who you want to be and having fun that is reward enough.
President Uchtdorf, an apostle for my church, gave a fabulous talk about the miracle of creation and how when we create things it is good for the soul. I believe that. I have felt that with every post I have done, even the silly one’s. I have created something out of nothing and that is empowering. So create!
There may have been an era where people opened the classifieds and contacted companies now hiring and got a job but that is few and far between. Even with the advent of internet job search engines like Monster, very few people get jobs based on ‘published ads’.
“At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published,” he says. “And yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances [and] realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.”
I think that is really true. Almost everyone I know has their job through networking not web searches or now hiring signs. And most of the people I know who get published jobs are not in the greatest jobs. It is perhaps easier to get a job at McDonalds without networking than say Goldman Sachs.
So how do you network? After all , you don’t want your friends to feel like you are using them for their connections. It needn’t be so obvious. Just talk with people about what you would like to do. My Dad was well aware of both my skills and work desires and a lot of people were because I talked about it on my blog, social media and in everyday conversation.
Once you are actively searching for a job just ask friends to keep their ears open for opportunities that might be a good fit. My Dad wasn’t planning on finding me an interview but was speaking with the head of the marketing department about needs and mentioned I could meet those needs. That’s the kind of networking that can even create a job out of a need, a job that may not even exist but you could fulfill.
It doesn’t even have to be a good friend. Let people at your church, civic group, book club, or kids playgroup know. They may know people, who know people, who need you.
5. The Interview
Let me start out this section by being very clear- I am not great at job interviews. My strabismus in my eyes can be a big part of the problem. If you have trouble with eye contact like I do that can make job interviews tough. I have also found some occasions where I felt my weight was a factor in not getting a job. They would never say it was but you can just tell when someone is judging you for appearance not abilities. This sucks but it is a reality.
I suppose if there is a way to improve that appearance than why not? You are presenting yourself in comparison to other people who probably have the same skill level as you do so an employer may be reduced to superficial gut feelings that may boil down to appearance. So, I’d say cover your tattoos, wear a nice suit, smile, treat the interview like a real person and talk as naturally as your nerves will allow.
In the case of this job I had a phone interview which was a great blessing as it took the personal elements out of the picture. I had sent him my resume and content links and he had spent considerable time reviewing them before the interview. I was ready to answer any questions he might have about what I had sent him.
I had also taken the job description and looked up any jargon words unique to the new job. I then prepared a ‘cheat sheet’ with those definitions and made sure I had something to say about said topics when asked. This proved to be the key reason I got the job. I had good concrete suggestions for our amazon and walmart listings- suggestions that I believe surprised the interviewer. You could also include on your cheat sheet information about the company, it’s history, leadership etc.
I also made it clear what the upsides were to picking me. That I work hard 24/7, have minimal obligations to distract me, could take little pay, didn’t need insurance, my working relationship with my Dad, and I’m a quick study when it comes to computer programs etc.
You may also have a chance to minimize the risks of selecting you. I told him my telecommuting would be an advantage not a downside because I was used to working all the time and creating content from home. I also made it clear I had much to learn but was confident I could do it.
Mostly I would say try to be a natural but professional version of yourself, and if it’s the right timing it will work out.
6. Be Patient
This is totally pot calling kettle black because I am completely impatient. I hate waiting but in this case I had to be patient. When my Dad initially told me about the position he said to wait for the job description before sending my resume (incidentally gave me some time to make it great).
I waited and waited for weeks and then the job description got posted. I was nervous because in some ways I was a great, perfect fit, and in others I was not. Again, I was prepared to overcome these issues and promote the benefits of me but I had to wait. Then finally I heard we were going to do the interview but it was delayed and delayed again. This whole time I couldn’t really talk about it with my online community because it was a digital media job so I wanted to lay low plus I didn’t want to ostracize myself from my job at Poler.
The interview came. I was prepared, notes in hand, we spoke for 1.5 hours and I thought things had gone well but you never know who else is interviewing. Than he asked me to do some ‘homework’ and I was patient and took the time I needed to make it good work. I felt particularly strong about my input concerning youtube…
But I didn’t hear anything and week 1 passed, than week 2 I was busy with my writing conference. No news was making me crazy and I couldn’t really talk about it much and there was nothing I could do but wait. I assumed at that point I didn’t get the job but I figured he would tell me if that was the case. So I waited and finally at the end of week 4 I got the job. He asked me if I needed to wait the weekend and think it through. “Nope” I said “I’m in!” I had already done all the thinking I needed! 🙂
And I wasn’t shy about expressing my eagerness and excitement. I don’t think there is anything wrong with such enthusiasm. If I was doing the hiring I’d want someone that was passionate about working for me.
7. You are More than Your Job
My last piece of advice is the greatest thing I learned from nearly 10 years of contently working in accounting. I felt like a sell-out. I felt like I had compromised my dreams to the cruel reality of what people would pay for me to do….
But that was a good thing in a way. It taught me that I am not my job. As a single woman I have always felt my career mattered more than my married counterparts (men and women). Aside from hobbies it seems the main contribution of a single American is their work. In fact, I was envious of my teacher and nurse friends because their contributions seemed more valuable than my career of spreadsheets and data entry and perhaps they are.
However, even my teacher friends would not want to be solely defined by their job. Our work is our work but it is not who we are. All of us have relationships, friendships, hobbies, family, church, clubs etc that define us just as much if not more so than our jobs.
My job in accounting may not have been my dream job but I was always grateful for it. I learned so much from doing something a little outside my comfort zone. It forced me to master skills I would never have learned otherwise. It gave me great relationships and life altering moments that I will never forget. So, if all you can get is a job at McDonalds then learn all you can from that job. And always have an attitude of ‘why does God need me here now?’
Be as interesting and dynamic a person as you can be. Try new things, have fun and maybe an opportunity will come out of the blue like it did for me. If it does I hope my little post will be of some help to you. My blogging may be small potatoes in the blog world but it is my greatest job and it has meant so much to me. I am a better person because of all of you and the words we’ve shared.
Good luck! And if you would like further advice comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So today is the first day of the new job! I started to write this post many times but then would stop because it was seemingly more tweet than blog worthy. I am part nervous, part excited, and that’s basically it.
It’s something entirely new as a career and I have no doubt that transitioning from hobbyist to a career in digital marketing will be a challenge. However, I also know I am starting small, part-time and we are all committed to being patient with each other.
It feels strange starting something new. It’s probably been since starting the job in accounting which was way out of my wheelhouse. I also was thinking back to the the first day in the MTC and the mission field.
Wondering what it was going to be like and if I could do it. On one hand I want to give both of the Rachel’s at those points a hug and say ‘you’ll get through the tough times’ and also say ‘you do it and you do it well’.
Looking back on those experiences I realize the worrying was justified and it wasn’t. Those were some of the toughest times of my life beginning but the worry of failure wasn’t really justified. I wasn’t perfect but I think I turned into a good missionary and then accounting clerk. Regardless it all worked out for the best.
What about you my friends? What in your 30’s+ have you started anew, afresh? Whether a new marriage, job, child etc? Were you excited and freaked out like me? Any advice? How has it been different starting something new in your 30s vs 20s? It seems like it could be more challenging and yet more rewarding. Would love to hear your perspectives.
This morning we had a conference call to go over the company I will be working for and in the next week will be filling out forms and starting projects. It is a new position so there will be some moving and stretching as we figure out what works best for everyone. I will probably be going out to Georgia sometime this summer to see the facilities and meet my co-workers. The main offices are in Dalton Georgia so that should be a fun place to visit.
So that was basically it. We did a basic orientation of the company and most of the answers to questions were ‘I’ll get back to you on that’.
I think I may just have to read Julia Child’s book My Life in France. It’s one of my favorites for a lot of reasons but I love that she had the guts to change her life later in life. She didn’t graduate from culinary school till she was almost 39. Then she spent the next 10 years of her life working on Mastering the Art of French Cooking and in 1961 when she was 49 it was published.
Everything we know about Julia Child started then. At 50 she became the Julia Child we all know with the debut of The French Chef. How many people do you know that have started something so big at 50? It’s so inspiring to me.
Her marriage to Paul Child is another inspiration to me. They met when she was 32 and married at 34. He seems to have been worth waiting for. As an artist he no doubt wanted to be creative and energetic but he chose to work as a bureaucrat for his job so that Julia could go to culinary school and write her book. What a wonderful example of love and support.
Most people would find the notion of a housewife going to Le Cordon Blu in the 60s to be silly but not Paul Child. In fact, it was his insistence that kept her motivated when it got difficult.
I wasn’t planning on talking about Julia and Paul on this post but they are an inspiration to me and as I start this new journey I hope to embrace the adventure like them.
Read My Life in France. I know you will love it!
So share with me your new experiences. What you learned from them? What your inspiration was? What was tougher at 30 than at 20? What was easier? Thanks in advance.
Tomorrow is the end of an era for me. It will be my last day working for Grabber Inc. I will be moving over to Poler and have actually been working there as pretty much full time employee for the last year and half. Now it will be official. I feel a little bittersweet at the change for a lot of reasons. Mostly I am happy because I love working with the gang at Poler including my Dad (I worked with him at Grabber and he’s my greatest cheerleader).
I guess it just feels a little sad because I’ve spent my entire adult life, aside from my mission, working for Grabber in some form or another.
Let me tell you a little bit about the journey of Grabber and my own path within the company
My Grandfather founded Grabber Construction in 1967. It all began with an invention of a new kind of drywall screw that ‘grabbed’ on to commercial steel studs, creating a stronger building. (Don’t ask me too many questions because I really don’t understand the difference!).
My Grandpa and I have never been super close but I have to say basically everything good that has happened to me in my life can in some way be traced back to him. I owe him a debt of gratitude I sometimes forget. First of all, he opened the doors to the missionaries. It was close to the same time as the invention of the screw and for whatever reason he was open to their message. I don’t think my Grandma would have done it without his approval and involvement and I am beyond words grateful for that.
He also has continuously challenged his own creativity and is fearless in meeting new people. Starting with just him, my Grandma and 2 other employees (I believe) bagging up screws and making cold calls to construction sites all around California, my Grandpa eventually built Grabber to a successful international brand with branches all around the US including Hawaii. You can see the company today at http://www.grabberman.com/
While he was in Japan sourcing the screws my Grandfather met Dai Hiorota who ran a postcard/novelty company and the two immediately became fast friends. They started both a personal and business relationship that still remains. Eventually Impact Photographics was created, which is still operated out of El Dorado Hills California and is the leading supplier of photographic memorabilia to the national parks and other attractions.
With a photography company in tow my Grandfather became an avid landscape photographer, particularly loving to shoot panoramics of Hawaii and San Francisco. My father and brother are also all excellent photographers with professional experience.
While he was in Japan he became familiar with a product called a handwarmer. These nifty devices were invented during the Korean war to help soldiers stay warm. They have always been more popular in Japan than here but sensing a good idea my Grandpa became a distributor and the company still thrives today. Go to www.warmers.com to see more
My Grandfather of course has gotten older and with that the company needed to change and adapt. In 2009 Grabber Construction was sold to the ESOP. Then in 2011 Grabber Handwarmers was sold to Heatmax (makers of Hothands). In April 2012 Impact Photographics was sold to the ESOP and then finally in Dec 2012 Heatmax announced the closing of the major accounting offices for the Handwarmer business and the full administrative merger of the 2 companies (although both products at least for now will be sold).
So now the Wagner family is no longer officially an owner in any of my Grandpa’s enterprises. (He is still alive and pushing forward. Don’t want this to sound too much like a eulogy!). My father still works for Grabber and my uncle Jeff is still president of Impact so there is still the family influence but it isn’t as much as it used to be. That’s why it’s a little bittersweet. My Grandpa’s legacy, the thing that gave us so much good and helped our family become what it is, has served its course and is moving on to new owners, new situations.
Since 2002 I have ridden this roller coaster along with Grabber. I started out fresh out of college working as a web designer for a little company my Dad founded called Linguatronics. My work is long gone but you can still see the company at www.linguatronics.com.
Then I went on a mission for my church to Indiana came back swearing I wouldn’t work for the family company, but I looked around and despite having a college degree no job offers came up in California. So, I was forced to turn to the only place available to me, the corporate office at JWA (the old parent company for all the businesses) in Alpine, Utah.
I worked at the office for 3 years and its no secret that I struggled with personal anxieties during that time period but that was mostly due to my own issues not the office environment. Everyone I worked with there, with one notable exception, was fabulous and basically taught me how to work in accounting from ground zero (and I mean zero!). Probably my favorite part of my job back then was getting to know all the managers for all 3 companies. Plus, it was a wonderful experience to work with my Dad, Grandfather, and uncles (my uncle Tom worked in the office with me and he is a character). I had a great boss in Roland and the best coworker a girl could ask for in Sandy.
However, it reached a time for me to move on and challenge myself more, so in Dec, 2007 I quit and dived again into the job pool with similarly fruitless results. After 6 months I said forget it and moved on to start my own business. Originally I thought I would do events and catering but it didn’t work out, so I ran my fathers rentals for about 18 months full-time and then was offered a part-time job for the handwarmer division, Grabber Inc.
I first started in the marketing department setting up booths at festivals and areas around the west. This was very satisfying and I enjoyed it a lot.
When the company split in 2009 from Grabber Construction there became a need for more accounting help (with the loss of the corporate office it was perfect timing for me). Slowly I was offered more work in accounting and less in marketing until the whole division was basically dissolved leaving me with only accounting.
This proved to be fine because I kept getting more work until Feb 2010 when I was added to Grabber Inc full-time. It really has been my dream job. Yes, it is boring, but I get to work from home and that makes all the difference. I can have music on, take a break if I need to, talk to someone on speaker phone without bothering people, and most of all I don’t have a boss breathing over my shoulder. To me, it is the ultimate American Dream. Freedom mixed with hard work! I LOVE WORKING FROM HOME!
The downside of working from home is you are kind of constantly working but to me it is worth the sacrifice. You get to have freedom and it has allowed me to train for swims, see doctors when I had poor health, and just be myself. I don’t know how I’m ever going to go back to corporate America if I ever have to. It gives me the chills and makes me feel nauseated just to think about it. I hope I never have to return to cubicle life again! Working for home isn’t for everyone but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
In 2011 my brother Ben and his friend Kharma started a new brand of apparel and camping goods for the urban camper called Poler and I began working with them as well as the other 2 companies and running my Dad’s rentals. It was crazy but somehow I got it all done. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experience working with the accounting team at Poler so far and was thrilled when they offered me a job as Grabber closed down. I have basically already been doing that job since February as my Grabber responsibilities have gotten smaller each day.
I just want to say thank you to everyone at Grabber Construction, Impact Photographics, Grabber Inc and Poler for helping make my worklife a good experience. I’ve learned a ton about myself and gotten to work with some outstanding individuals. With each separation I’ve missed working with people who have left with the company such Sandy, Roland, and Kevin but they took the time to teach, praise and critique me and for that I am so grateful.
I am also grateful to my father for always having my back. When I was in college I idolized my professor, Dr Holland, because he believed in me and gave me a shot as a teaching assistant (I still idolize him). The more I think about it my Dad has done the same thing time again but without the benefit of my fawning praise. He gave me a job when I needed one after quitting (what some might have seen as a dumb move he never criticized me for it). He gave me opportunities at Grabber, pushed for my hire at Poler and has always stood beside me. I hope I have repaid him for all he has done for me. My Dad has made it possible for me to live the life I love. Can you ask more of a parent?
I also want to say thank you to my Grandfather. He can be gruff around the edges but when the tough decisions come he has made a lot of good ones. Thanks Grandpa!
So onto Poler and a great career as the unlikely accountant (that would be a good title for a book The Unlikely Accountant by Rachel Wagner…)
I am writing this using my touch typing because honestly I can’t see much. My eyes are puffy and sore. I’m not sure if this is normal. I will call the doctor in the morning to find out. I know a week to 10 days of recovery is not uncommon.
I just finished reading The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella for the 6th or 7th time. It is not an award winning book plot-wise but I think it is funny and when I’m sick or feeling down I reach for Kinsella’s writing every time. I listened to it on audibook and lately I’ve had a lot of time with my audio books 🙂
So, the main story behind this book is a woman named Samantha is just about to be made partner in a prestigious corporate law firm in London. To get to this point she regularly logs 60+ hours and never has time for social gatherings or even time to think for herself. She doesn’t know how to toast a bagel, iron a shirt or replace the bag in her vacuum. The only time she gives to herself is an occasional viewing of the Waltons for comfort.
Then through a massive mistake Samantha panics, flees to the country and ends up working as a housekeeper in a big lofty house. It is admittedly ridiculous but if you can get behind all of that fluffy plot and think about the questions Kinsella is asking, it is a thought provoking book.
It touches on one of my favorite topics- work. Why we work, how we work, what motivates us to work, how does money, power, control figure into work? What do we lose in work? What sacrifices are worth making for work and which one’s aren’t? How do we find that elusive balance between work and life? These are all questions that fascinate me.
Kinsella’s book made me think about work and feminism in a new way and has left me pondering…
My entire life I was taught in school that pre-feminist women were disenfranchised (which they were) and unhappy mainly because of their unequal share and positions in the workforce. Men had the power and money at work; therefore, they had the eventual satisfaction and happiness. By confining themselves to the home in unpaid labor, the traditional woman, could not contribute all she could to the world; thereby leaving her unhappy and unfulfilled.
I remember reading Betty Friedan:
“Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question– ‘Is this all?”
I wonder if Mrs. Friedan would have the honesty to ask this same question of a lopsided career woman like Samantha in the novel who works, works, works? Couldn’t you make a similar list full of the daily deadening tasks of the career woman and ask the same questions at the end? I wonder what she’d think of such a problem?
In some ways the modern career woman asks the Is this all? question even more frequently than her predecessors because they attempt to do all in the work-world and at home. One commenter on this very blog said of her life:
“I feel…I don’t know…a societal pressure of sorts to make mothering a priority. As a working mom, I feel as though I have two full time jobs (and neither gets done to its full need). No one is pressuring my husband, or men in general to find a better balance between work and home”
This highly stretched living ends up leaving a lot of women feeling that they do many things but don’t do them particularly well. I think every woman has moments where she feels mediocre because she’s pushed too far, too fast, with limited time.
When I was young (high school or college aged) I readily assumed my greatest accomplishment in life would be from my work. Nobody ever said ‘you will get your greatest satisfaction from your hobbies or from serving in the community’. Think about it- what do we ask children about their future lives? It’s what do they want to be someday, what do they want to do for their job.
People at church said I’d get the most fulfillment from my family but this was largely ignored as passe sentiment by the young me. Also family is not a controllable outcome; therefore, depending on it for your contribution to the world can be a risky enterprise. Work is at least more in our control.
In the book, Samantha finds, to her surprise, that not working actually gives her the most joy and fulfillment- taking weekends off and having a life are what make her truly happy whether her work be in the domestic or corporate sphere. This seems to defy everything I was taught as a young girl? Fulfillment from the weekends? Those are just for play?
For both men and women, the world is telling us to focus on work, work, work but our hearts are almost always telling us life, life, life. Easier said than done. Whether your a teacher, nurse or accountant, work has become such an overwhelming part of most modern woman’s lives. For someone like me this is especially true as I work from home. I think this leaves most women feeling unsatisfied with a huge part of their lives. Just the opposite of what the feminists told me.
I think feminism added another layer to the work myth by saying that great female accomplishments in the workforce would make our entire society better. So now its not working for your own happiness but your entire sex and even all mankind. If we have a normal but necessary job it can feel like such a let down- like you haven’t done that one thing you were called on to do in this life, when you may have, just not at your paid employment.
I work hard but it is way down the list of my greatest accomplishments. I get satisfaction from everything else in my life and that motivates me to work, not the other way around.
Maybe some women have these great empowering jobs but nobody I know. Most work to provide sustenance and to allow them to pursue their true passions in the rest of their lives. Maybe men already knew this for hundreds of years but they’ve had more time to evolve mechanisms to cope with the demands of work?
I’m just throwing this out there, but maybe feminism missed the mark when they focused so much on work as an equalizing force? Maybe our problem wasn’t working in the home verses working in the office but just a general lack of self-worth and recognition? I guess we have more options now which is certainly a good thing but it also can leave women floating in a sea of undecided and unmet aspirations.
Why is it any less ennobling to dedicate one’s life to something we might not get paid for? Does getting paid somehow eliminate the ‘Is this all’? For instance, why does having my life work be this blog seem somehow lower than what the feminist theology espoused? It has all the elements of an empowering voice, freedom of expression, and ability to influence others that the housewife role supposedly denied women. Why does the fact it is unpaid make it any less important for a life?
I don’t think it does and I think the scores of workaholic, frazzled, stressed out women out there would agree with me. Could it not be the saddest moment of all when you get to the top of the career world and still find yourself wondering what it was all for? I speak only in hypothetical here as I am clearly not at the top of any field or career.
It makes me glad I was taught a bigger answer to that question ‘Is it all?’, an eternal answer. My faith gives my life meaning when the world would see little value. What a great comfort that is.
That said, I still deal with deflated feelings about the workforce and my participation in it. Anyone else struggle with this? Finding our own way to contribute can be very difficult? Do you struggle in finding value in what you do contribute, or are you left asking Is this all?
Ok. Now I will try to get to sleep and rest my poor eyes. Got to get back to work in the morning…
Frequently I have people say to me ‘you are a great ______’ and then followed by ‘You should be a _______’. Some different variations:
You are a great cook. You should open up a restaurant.
You are a great writer. You should be an author.
Your blog is great. You should do it full time.
Your state your opinion well. You should be a political writer.
You should be an editor, lawyer, politician, speech writer, teacher, PHD, fiction and non-fiction author, event planner, singer, ect. (Ironically nobody has ever said ‘you would make a great mother…)
The sad part is they are all right. There are so many dream jobs I have. There are so many things I should be doing and would be genuinely good at, even brilliant, but how did I end up doing accounting? Basically I took the first job that was offered to me after my mission and I ran with it.
In 2008 I tried to make a change and get something in marketing or event planning. Something a little more creative and had no luck. Its a tricky cycle you get into because you need experience to get most jobs and to get that experience you need experience. So even if I went back to school my position really wouldn’t improve much because I’d still have the same experience.
I don’t mean to seem ungrateful because I’m not. My job has tons of perks and it gives me a lifestyle I love. It’s just not what I envisioned for my life. I didn’t have some specific dream but I never thought I’d be an accounting clerk my whole life.
Now I’m buying a house and that makes it all the more difficult to make changes. Sigh…
I guess a side of me feels like a sell out but I don’t know what else I could have done. I took the only job offered to me. I get to work from home and have flexibility. I’m pretty lucky in many ways. Plus, I’m good at what I do. I work as hard as I can and have overall a nice life.
But always in the back of my head is that nagging question of all the things I could have been and done? Do any of you struggle with unfulfilled dreams? With what you have settled for in your life? We all have to make compromises in order to live. At least most of us do. How do you reconcile your wishes with reality?
I know there are ways to contribute outside of my job, so I’m looking out for that right now. I think it is how I will have to do all the ‘should be’s’.
When did we decide that the only way to contribute to society was through your job or family? There has to be other options for people like myself? Got to start writing all those books and articles I dream about 🙂 .
Btw- thanks to everyone for all the encouragement. It always makes my day! I think my friends often see more potential in me than I do in myself. In fact, I know they do. Thank goodness for great friends.