In my observation, this question could be perceived in several ways.
I really thought about it before I posted this — am I a Job Jockey? Or, am I a Job Junkie?
The word “junkie” has such a negative connotation; however, as I look back upon my almost-two-years at my current job, it seems that’s what I’ve become. Fortunately, it’s far from a negative. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I now live and breathe my job in the healthiest of ways. I want my company to succeed; I want my boss to do well; I want good fortune to come for all of us.
If you’ve been keeping up with me, it hasn’t always been this way.
You see, for the first eleven years after I obtained my noble and golden piece of paper, which tells the world I’m worthy of being employed, I was treated like dog shit. At each professional job I worked, I was great at what I did. Yet, at each professional job I worked, I was put in a corner and told to work as hard as I could without a name or a face. In fact, my former Vice President used to introduce me to people as her Workhorse.
That was my name.
And that was my trade.
Unfortunately, I lived up to those expectations because that’s what I do. I’m a people-pleaser. If that’s who I am to you, then that’s who I’ll be for you.
I love being me, but this is a significant downfall in my people-pleasing personality.
Back then, I wanted nothing more than to be a Job Jockey. I wanted nothing more than to take the reigns of whatever opportunity came at me — be it the manager of an office, host at a restaurant, or walker of dogs — just so I could be amazing, win my medal, and move on to the next. Back then, the only thing I wanted was for someone to recognize me so I could put it on my resume and have someone else pat me on my back for my awesome accomplishments.
It’s not an age thing, though. It’s not that I’ve gotten wiser as the years have gone by. It’s that I’ve been shit on enough to know when I need to stand up for myself. I now know when a job is a job and when a position can be a career. Thankfully, I’ve found a career where I can excel, and I am now a Job Junkie.
Rest assured, this wasn’t always the case — not even in my current company.
To any job seeker, I want to offer my full honesty, as this was far from an easy route. Here’s a breakdown of my breakdowns over the past decade or so:
And I mean, I cried a lot. I cried on my way to work on most days. I cried on my way home from work everyday. When I was having extra special days, I cried in my car during breaks.
I knew I was better than the way I was treated, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I had also landed myself inside a bubble where company culture dictated that my treatment was acceptable.
I Plotted & Planned
After about four years into my seven-year stint, I started strategizing. I had spreadsheets, color codes, notes — the whole nine yards. I was getting out of there, come hell or high water.
I tracked every application I submitted, every person I made contact with, every interview I went on, and every rejection letter I received. I reached out when I was rejected, and, while I seldom got a response, I documented my efforts so I could improve.
I made the Grade
After three grueling years of second-best and almost-had-its, I was awarded my dream job. It took six months and one week of interviewing. For my final interview, I was flown out to headquarters in another time zone. That interview was nine hours long, lasting from the moment I stepped off the plane until the moment I boarded again. Why on Earth that wasn’t a sign, I can’t tell you. I can only tell you that job grief does amazing things to a person’s perception of the next possible reality.
And damn did it feel good. I worked at that job for one week less than I interviewed for it, and it felt so good to not give a shit about what I would do with the rest of my life. At the time I quit, I was working 120 hours a week on a very entry-level income. I had one day off in six months — no weekends or holidays — my day off was jury duty. On that day, my boss threatened to fire me for insubordination when I didn’t return his emails within his required two-hour time frame. Weird. The judge wasn’t cool with it in a court of law.
I pulled out my 401(k) and spent my savings because, in my mind, if I was this stressed out at 32, I’d never live to spend it anyway. I spent 18 months being a Job Jockey. I hosted, waited tables, watched a few dogs, wrote a ton of words, visited every coffee shop I could find in a ten mile radius (there are so many!!), and made random bar friends I never spoke to again. But, in their moment, they were the best things to happen to me.
I Made it Here
This month marks my eleventh year in Denver. I was offered my first job in this city six days after I got here. I had no friends, no job, and no apartment until about twelve hours before my departure. I loaded up the MINI with everything I had and hoped for the best. I had some clothes, some shoes, a TV, and a big pile of omg-what-are-you-doing? in my backseat.
I spent seven years at that job being treated like I didn’t belong in public. It does something to a person. After my 18-month stint, I was broke, couldn’t pay a single bill, hated writing words, and didn’t know what I would do.
Was I worth anything to anyone? What could I do to rectify the setback I’d made for myself?
Then I met my Other. We’re very different. We couldn’t be more opposite. I met him accidentally — I couldn’t make eye contact with him at first.
We accidentally started a life together.
Then my current boss found me — on Careerbuilder, of all places! I hadn’t posted a resume there since 2011 or so! He asked if I’d be interested in a job he was looking to fill; the job description was nearly verbatim my resume.
Welcome to Today
I spent over a year wondering why I made the decision I made to join the company. It was tough, and it felt all too familiar. I hated every Sunday evening, just as I had before. I dreaded the morning talks, just as I had before.
Thankfully, with a strong skillset and a diligent mind, I’ve found a place where my boss and I communicate as though we’re business partners. We understand that we want nothing but the best for our clients, and his clients are my clients. My Other and I have had each others’ back for almost three years; I’ve been at my job for nearly two of those.
I’ve found that my life, like most other people’s, requires a lot of ducking and dodging. When it comes down to it, you have to decide — do you want to be the Jockey or the Junkie? and before you decide between the two, you have to define each of those titles for yourself, as they could find themselves in very different places, depending on how you look at things.