“If you have the courage to be yourself, people’ll pay your price.” – Rabbit Run, John Updike
In Rabbit Run, Updike presents an unhappy and unfulfilled character full of flaws and hopes and tied up in a life that seems not entirely his own. Rabbit’s moment of greatest happiness occurs during his first appearance in the novel- in the opening pages he observes a high school game of pick-up basketball, eventually sloughing off his sports coat and joining in, all lanky limbs and joy. You feel the optimism return to him as his muscles remember the game they used to play- it’s sport as religion, athleticism as the purest form of joy.
Without launching into a full on analysis of a novel I very much enjoyed, what Rabbit finds, however briefly, is what we should all be looking for. Whatever it is that makes you feel whole, electrified, on edge- and oftentimes it’s a combination of things- seek it out, thrive to include it in your life! It takes courage and conviction to recognize what it is that makes you tick and go after it, but as Updike notes, people will pay the price. Stand up for what you believe in and remember to be yourself, in your professional life, in your relationships, and you’ll be less likely to find yourself in Rabbit’s predicament: a shell of who you might have been, in a life that seems to have happened around you.
Even in my daily sales, rather than follow a scripted routine, I’m honest, sincere and always maintain a sense of humor, and it works! People appreciate frankness and individuality- and value them more than you might think.
Again, good luck to all you career searchers, and as always, I hope more of you have ceased checking in for tips and tricks and are happily employed in your dream job!
There comes a time, especially often when you are in the beginning of your working days, when the bell tolls: it’s simply time to move on from your current position. Whether you have ascertained for certain that there is no room for growth in your position, your company has come under new management, or it’s just time for a new direction, it’s tempting to simply up and give your two weeks notice when you have that moment of realization. However appealing that might be, don’t! You’re infinitely more valuable employed than unemployed, whether your unemployment was your own choice or not. It’s back to that annoying paradox you encountered on day one of your non-student life: it’s near impossible to get a job unless you have a job. Don’t forget that lesson you learned- any job is better than no job! It’s simply the truth of how the market functions: when something is in demand, people fight to get their hands on it. When something sits unnoticed on a shelf, with back stock piling up, even the best sale can’t get someone to purchase it. If you are in demand by another employer, it’s a green flag for a potential employer- you are skilled and reliable, as certified by another company.
So, as much as you might want to jump ship and pour all your time and energy into seeking out that next opportunity, take a moment to assess your situation. Stay in your current position, continue seeking our opportunities for advancement or improvement, and search for a new career in your free time. Slow and steady wins the race, after all.
A passerby captured subway crooner Damon Scott performing a cover of Adele’s “Someone Like You” the other day at the 86th street station. Apart from the simple and moving soulful rendition, Scott remarks at the end, with a smile, “Have a good day- and don’t let nobody ruin it for you.” I think we can all stand to learn a valuable lesson from Scott- one that we have to remind ourselves of from time to time: we are in charge of our own happiness, and the path our lives follow. Whether it be in love, friendship, a career, or leisure- no one is responsible for your satisfaction except for you, so take charge and take care.
I’ve been in my fair share of tedious jobs, enough to recognize the value of the genuine enjoyment Damon gets from performing. He’s not filling Madison Square Park or making millions (although he does collect a good chunk of change from some generous passer-bys), but you can hear the smile in his voice. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again because it’s worth repeating: do what you love and love what you do- the money will follow. So much emphasis is placed on the income generated by employment rather than the section of your soul it fills. Not every job will be your dream job, the majority of them might be far from it, but if you’re progressing toward a career goal, it’s worth the struggle. What I’m trying to say is, don’t let whatever it is that makes you tick lie stagnant: nurture your creativity, engage with the world. If you need that extra push to get you moving, watch Damon Scott again and try not to smile.
Make moves, do you.
Way back when, wrapped up in the throes of “What color is your parachute?” I encountered a section toward the end of the book entitled, “Each one teach one.” Devoted as I was to discoveering exactly which shade of crazy my particular parachute might be, I dutifully plowed through the chapter. Really? I thought to myself, I’m having a hard enough time just trying to get my own life together, how could I teach anyone how to do the same? As the months have gone on, and employment has followed, I’ve found myself obsessing less about the color of my parachute than simply being grateful for the fact that I have one.
As my own anxiety about unemployment has waned, I have become acutely aware of friends and acquaintances experiencing the same emotions I did just a short time go. Whenever possible, I offer my advice, guidance, enthusiasm, and above all, positive reinforcement. Looking back over these conversations, as much as I’ve helped others I’ve helped myself. Simply reiterating the sense of hope and perseverance I feel about the road ahead reinforces them for me, and I feel a renewed drive to make the positive changes I’m encouraging in others. So, each one teach one? Perhaps it hasn’t turned out to be as selfless of a mantra as I originally thought, but it’s certainly helped more than a few people move along in the world!
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
– William Ernest Henley
If nothing else, take from this poem the command to master your own fate, to captain your own soul. In life and in your career, it’s important to take stock of what it is you’re looking for, and to go out and actively seek it. Sitting around and waiting for something great to happen never helped anyone- so start working toward your New Year goals!
As the holiday shopping frenzy descends upon New York and the rest of the world, let’s take a minute (with Kid Cudi) and remember what’s really important: the pursuit of happiness. Take a cue from an artist who pioneered the ability to succeed independently of a big label, and go after your dreams.
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Let’s pause the ever fervent job hunt for just a moment, and take some time to consider those less fortunate than ourselves. While I’m excitedly typing away on my MacBook trying to motivate myself and the jobless masses INTO employment, it’s all too easy to forget that there’s almost always someone worse off than yourself out there.
So, when you get a chance please check out this wonderful post! It’s a great resource that makes it easy to pinpoint ways to lend a helping hand this holiday season. The temperatures dropping and the holiday lights are out at midnight- so even if you don’t take advantage of one of these more creative ways to make a difference, drop off canned goods at your local food bank, or clear out those old winter coats that are just taking up room in your closet and donate them to your local shelter.