Sometimes you’ve got to give in to win

 

I must confess the truth.

Leaving Chicago has been the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.

I tried. I really did try to make it work. I gave myself completely to the demands of the city. I worked overnights, double shifts, all for minimum wage. Tried to mold myself to fit in to the different social groups – the comic, the newsmaker, the socialite, the designer, the athlete. I couldn’t find my niche, my people. I was never good enough to be first rank, always second at best.

I have never felt lower about myself and my worth than when I lived in Chicago. I worked for some pretty talentless, rude, and idiotic people. It still amazes me how some of the people I answered to were in their positions of power.

I told myself the struggle was normal, that it would pass. But you know what? That’s bullshit. Young professionals should NOT be killing themselves over their jobs. It is not fair, nor okay, for their bosses to say that their over-the-top sacrifices are necessary for the good of the company or the good of the team. Never should a person feel so low as I have felt and be okay with that. It is NOT okay. It is NOT okay to work for a company, a boss, or a department that allows you to feel empty, alone, exhausted, frustrated, un-appreciated, under paid, and damaging your personal life.

Young professionals are NOT brats, selfish, or lazy for standing up for what is right & deserved: good mental health, a challenging yet balanced work environment, and respect from their peers & bosses.

I left Chicago because it was a do or die situation. I made excuses for my misery. Luckily for me, I was challenged by someone I love to either do or die. I chose do. And while it’s been challenging on my pocket book, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am finally standing up for what I deserve. I am finally doing what I’m passionate about, even if it means cutting my livelihood in half. It’s amazing how much more you enjoy life when you aren’t dreading about doing something uninspired for 8+ hours of your day.

If anyone ever needs to talk to someone about hating their job, hating their path, being depressed, lost, confused, alone, frustrated. I’m your girl. Even though I’m free from my big city demons, I’m still challenged each day to continue discovering who I am and what path I’m on. So, I’m not completely put together & all knowing. But, I can empathize. I can listen. I can try to help others feel that they do have options, albeit different than what they may be comfortable with at first, but worthwhile in the longterm.

And hey, maybe one day I’ll lay out all my grievances about particular individuals & employers, because wouldn’t that be juicy & funny? But for now, I’m going to keep giving in to my wants and desires and ya know, just keep on winning.

Post inspiration brought to you by the song “Sunshine” by Atmosphere:

Why I succeed at failing

I have been letting myself down a lot this past year. I’ve been making excuses for why I’m treading water. I’ve been blaming the universe for giving me difficult circumstances, that prevent me from moving forward. I then decide that the solution to get away from all this negative juju invading my headspace is to well, move. Queue positive vibes & blissful living!

Nope. Maybe it was blissful living for the first two weeks, but then the frustration with life came roaring back.

You see, ever since I graduated from college almost 4 years ago, I haven’t felt fulfilled. Or, if I did feel fulfilled it was fleeting. My dreams were cut down by reality, so I adapted. But for me, adapting isn’t good enough. I tried the whole full-time job thing. Fine at first, and then life hit me again and again with dilemmas.

Caitlin, your family needs you.

But Caitlin, you have rent to pay.

Caitlin, live each day like it’s yours and their last.

Caitlin, how are you going to excel in your career, adulthood if you keep going off to follow your heart? 

I am a rational person. I would like to think I’m smart, even. Maybe even overly cautious sometimes when it comes to taking a risk. A square.

But when it comes to a career, I fly by the seat of my pants. My heart bleeds down my sleeve as I continue to search for that soulmate,  that fulfillment. I can’t force to do the easy thing and “just find a full time job until you figure it out.” That seems so wrong for me. Soul-sucking. Uninspired.

So, in the eyes of many, I continue to succeed at failing. Failing to conform to what generations before me did because “they had to,” but really did they? Failing to be comfortable with a steady income at a job that is just a job. Failing to do something “useful” and “productive” with my $50K+ college education, therefore disappointing my parents. Failing to be normal.

I always had said growing up that I would HATE working in an office if it wasn’t work I loved doing. “I’ll never take a job just for the money.” Well, I’ve done that in the past…slightly unavoidable Younger and Unknowing Caitlin.

But now, I’ve decided to embrace my failures. Things didn’t work out for a reason, because if they had would I really be my best self? My happiest? My most fulfilled? Maybe my failures are leading me up to a road of successes that just so happen to occur later in life, because I’ll handle it better then and not become a drug addict or fame whore.

I want to keep failing. If I keep failing then I’ll keep growing. If I keep growing then I’ll become a more evolved individual. If I become a more evolved individual then I will be fulfilled.

Simple enough, right?

More Hats

20 and even 30-somethings are beginning to create their own jobs. Saying “screw you” to those refusing to hire them until “they pay their dues.”

At only 24 years old, I have worn quite a few different hats in my life so far – soccer player, student, journalist, historian, manager, advisor.

And at only 24 years old, I still have so many hat possibilities! But…what if I’m trying on too many too soon?

I’ve found quite a few “happys” along the way as I’ve tried on those different hats. How long that happy lasts varies of course. I mean come on, I am a twenty-something. My attention span is pretty short lived and I’m in constant need for instant gratification.

It’s that feeling of being content that I have yet to discover. Seriously. Not even a glimmer. I have NO idea what being content with my life feels like. I’m in a constant state of unrest, with “what if I did this” thoughts flooding my stream of consciousness on a daily basis.

I’ve thought that traveling would quell that unrest, but then reality hits: I need money to travel. I need to keep improving my skills & abilities so when I am ready to “settle down” I am employable. I need to focus on one area so I have a better chance at getting a good job. I need to think of life after my 20s.

Is it really reality that is stopping me from doing the unthinkable – not choosing a path, not choosing to invest in a career, choosing to not choose? Or, is it the old expectations of generations past?

“I don’t think the human mind can comprehend the past and the future. They’re both just illusions that can manipulate you into thinking there’s some kind of change.” – Bob Dylan

I have incredibly supportive parents. They show their support the best by (mostly) keeping their career advice and opinions to themselves. My mom understands that a one-career life is no longer a realistic expectation of a person. Rather, multiple careers is almost the new expectation to survive not only the economy, but also to quell that unrest within ourselves.

The difference between the millennial generation and any other, is that we refuse to be miserable. We strive to find our happy. We strive to ruin expectations. We strive towards a greater understanding. Barriers are being broken. Lines are being crossed. Newness is being born every day.

So, is it possible to be content AND happy? Or, is happiness no longer a long-term plan, but rather a daily victory? Is being content unattainable until you “settle down?”

I’ve had co-workers of all ages. The ones closer to my parents age, really haven’t had to struggle as much to get their job. Obviously, things were different when they graduated from school. The ones closer to my age and up to 10 years older than I, have had to work the worst shifts, holidays, weekends, forgo personal events, etc. for YEARS before finally getting that job they deserve.

But now, 20 and even 30-somethings are beginning to create their own jobs. Saying “screw you” to those refusing to hire them until “they pay their dues.”

SO, LISTEN UP UNEMPLOYED 20-SOMETHINGS: Creation is the way to go. Create your own hat, because all the ones you’ve worn in the past, or are wearing right now, well, they’re going out of style.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

Times They Are A-Changin’

After 20 months at WGN Radio, I am moving my “concentrations elsewhere.” That is, I was offered a full-time retail management job, and I can’t keep both my full-time hours + scheduled shifts at ‘GN. Something had to give.

This isn’t me giving up on my dreams of writing, of educating, of informing. Life is funny sometimes. It gives you opportunities when you least expect them. It gives you hardships when you least want them. It makes you question your path and yourself more than your nagging parents & elderly neighbors.

But, this choice is what is right for me, right now, in this moment of my 24-year-old life. It may not be what’s right for you, and if so, that’s cool. Just don’t tell me that. Keep it to yourself. No one wants to hear your opinions anyways. Especially me. I’m hard enough on myself as it is.

So, you won’t be hearing me on Sundays with Frank Fontana or Patti Vasquez, unless I’m filling in of course. Which I hope they still invite me back to do, when I’m able.

But, you will be reading more of my writing. With the new job comes new hours which means more free time to explore and develop my other passions. It’s going to be pretty awkward and pretty awful at first. Hell, maybe even the first year will be an absolute train wreck, but fuck it, I’m going to give it a damn good honest try.

So here’s to the next 20 months of learning, educating and informing. Who knows? Maybe I’ll be a blockbuster hit by then. Or, an excellent failure.

Why You Need to Learn to Become a Superhero at College

I have been a college graduate for seven months now and the reality of being done with my undergraduate career still wakes me up in the morning with a shift kick in the behind, waking me up to the reality that I am still on that terrifying job hunt.

I like to think that I was pretty active in college, learning to perfect the art of multitasking — going to class, going to student organization committee meetings, grabbing a quick bite from the cafe, making sure I finished my homework and left some room to study for that upcoming midterm, write a 15 page research paper the same night I said I’d cover someone’s DJ shift for three hours, etc.

While some nights I thought my head was going to explode from the pressure and my friends did their very best to boost me up with over-caffeinated cups of coffee and “study parties” (studying doesn’t sound so terrible when you add the word party at the end of it, right?), I quickly learned that if I planned on making it into the professional market, let along the media business, I needed to morph myself into a superhero – still kicking ass at 3 a.m., balancing three different modes of thought in my head at the same exact time (sometimes in English and en français), and of course, never letting my hopes of working for NPR (someday, one day) die.

Now that my undergraduate career is done, that doesn’t mean my superhero training is. It has been seven months since I have been in a college classroom, football or basketball stadium, and student organization meeting. Now I split my time and my brain’s hemispheres between: weekly train trips to Chicago, car crash fatality research, finishing a big investigative news story, teaching myself how to become a successful freelancer, and searching for more internships or possibly even jobs to add to my ever-growing résumé.

I thought I did enough in college, and while my friends and family said that I did do enough in college, in the real world sometimes that just isn’t enough to get what you want. So, fellow graduates, my words of advice for you (and myself): Do not get discouraged with yourself if you are doing your absolute best. While you are trying to break out into the big bad professional world, and you’re supposed to impress others, you should always remember to be kind to yourself. At this moment, the professional world is meaner and scarier than ever before, so give yourself time. Be open to many experiences, even if they might not be what you dreamed of doing right out of college, everything has a way of working out for the best, as long as you maintain that mentality. You’ll find your path, you’ll find your happiness, and it just may not be EXACTLY how you planned.

My advice to high school students soon to be entering college: While college is an incredibly exciting time since you will be living away from your parents for the first time, do not get caught up in the partying atmosphere of university. Of course have fun and be open to new (and safe) things. But remember that each action has a consequence — take it from a friend of mine who always dreamed of going to teach abroad and has trouble finding countries that will accept his application since he received a number of alcohol related tickets while an undergrad. I promise you, you can make friends outside of the bars, outside of a drunk or high haze, and you can find like-minded people in student organizations, volunteer groups, or work-study programs. Fill your empty time slots with activities that not only cater to your interests but also will look great on your résumé!

If you didn’t learn to become a superhero at college and spent a lot of your time either staring at the ol’ boob tube or the toilet bowl, it’s not too late to start evolving. Look for volunteer opportunities in your town that relate to your interests. Keep the fire going under you to never settle. Do not spend your time regretting what you did not do at college. Instead, spend that time searching for a similar opportunity that doesn’t require you to be at college to pursue it. And don’t wait! Many internships and collegiate student opportunities dwindle a year after you graduate.

Everyone can learn to be his or her own superhero. How badly do you want it?

Various Marvel superheros