Friday, June 17, 2011

Spinning Around


What a whirlwind week this has been.

My life has considerably changed, directly the result of starting my new job this past Monday. In a word to describe it: woo-hoo! (OK, that was more a two-word hyphenate).

Last week I finished up everything at my old job. What a strange feeling it was, coming in each day, knowing that it would be my last time to go to lunch with the girls, answer the phone with the company name, drive 3 miles to work. I had several choked-up moments throughout the week as it started to set in, but Friday was when the water works came.

Sofia, the ultimate co-worker and gem that she is, decorated my office with balloons, confetti, Starbucks, gifts and cards. It was so touching, and of course, my eyes were already welling up well before 8 a.m. I'm fairly certain there are few co-workers as great as Sofia out there - and I'm positive there are very few friends like her. She has a heart of gold, and she's the main reason I've loved coming to work the last 3+ years. It was her that I was dreading breaking the news to about my departure more than anyone else.

The rest of the day went by way too fast. I had gifts for everyone in the office, coupled with long letters for each (cards don't leave enough room for my rambling). Laura left first, and that was tough. She's been such a rock in my life - always motivating me and keeping things interesting at work. I know I will see everyone again and stay in touch, but it's just not the same. These people are like my second family!

When I bid farewell to Sofia, I had to mentally prepare for it. We decided to leave at the same time so that I wouldn't have to stay in the office and drown in my tears. We sat in my car, talked a bit and said our goodbyes. I kept it together surprisingly well, but the minute I drove away, I lost it completely. I did the ugly cry all the way home.

This isn't to say I wasn't majorly excited for this new phase in my life! It's just hard to let go of things that have been so ingrained in your life for years. It's scary, but it's facing fears like this that have always made my life better. Going away to college, studying abroad in London, moving to San Francisco. All of that scared the crap out of me, yet they've been some of the best decisions I've ever made.

I had a wonderful weekend. I scoped out a few places to live downtown, but I've ultimately decided to stay in Roseville for the next few months. Changing jobs AND homes in the same month is just overload for my brain.

Monday came, and I was nervous/excited/intimidated. You name it. I had an awesome first day at the new Big PR Agency! (Side note: notice how my bio now has a line in it about this blog housing my views only and not those of my employer - love it! So official and corporate-y. The same principle applies to my Twitter now too. Yes, this is me geeking out over working for a big company. I'm also equally fascinated by our conference room sporting a huge company logo, as well as all of the company coffee cups in the break room).

Everyone at the office is so sweet and helpful! A group of people took me to lunch, and I felt super welcome in the office. Of course, my brain was buzzing from all of the new information - names, clients, company practices - but that's to be expected. I felt like it was my first day of college or something - this new big world is at my fingertips, and I can't wait to settle in and get to work!

Some other nerdy things about the new job that excite the suburbanite in me:
-When I scan my parking pass in the garage, a robotic voice tells me, "Good morning, Tracy."
-I have my own office with a name placard outside of it.
-I was issued a BlackBerry yesterday for checking company emails. Oh. Em. Gee.
-A 2-day stay in San Francisco is in the works for August where all of the company's California offices will convene (hehe).
-I've already picked up on some fun, official office lingo. Examples:

"We're going to debrief Dan," as in fill him in on stuff.
"We use those for one-off events," as in events that happen here and there.
"Let's do things this way moving forward," instead of saying "from now on."

I know all of that corporate-y stuff doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but it still impresses the small town gal in me. As for the client work, I'm ramping up on that (more PR people lingo) and it's super fun! I work with food clients, so I'm reaching out to lifestyle and food editors. This is a change from my more business and technology background, but it's a welcomed switch :)

So, life is very good right now. It's not always easy being new, but one day I won't be anymore. It's still nice to come home to my same old apartment, go to my favorite classes at the gym and see familiar faces when I hang out with friends. And tonight I'm hanging with my old co-workers at the River Cats game! This will be my official going away event (more like "gone away" celebration), and I'm psyched!

Looking forward to more changes and my professional growth.....moving forward :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Finding Mr. Right Career

Big things are in the works for me. I found out a couple weeks ago that I got a new job that I had been dying to get. Seriously - a rare, doesn't-come-too-often, awesome, exciting job! I know I'm a hard worker in general, but this was something I worked even harder for, and the fact that it paid off just about makes this one of my most prized accomplishments to date.

I hadn't been actively looking to change jobs. My current one was working out fine, and I just love my co-workers there. The 3-mile commute was grand, and getting off at 4:30 every day made life pretty breezy.

And therein lies the rub.

I don't want to always take the easy route. I don't want everything to just slide on by to the point where I'm barely using my brain anymore. This hit me big time about a month ago when I was invited to a BBQ/trivia party. I don't think I knew the answer to more than 3 questions the whole night. It got me thinking - am I getting dumber?

I've noticed for awhile that I needed a challenge. Half of the reason I've taken on new hobbies and volunteer opportunities is because I felt the need to be more dedicated to things. I was going to work, coming home and not even giving work a second thought. That disconnect is what led me to pursue this new opportunity.

Many weeks ago, I saw that Big PR Agency Downtown was hiring a mid-level executive. This was the same agency I'd interned for in San Francisco, so I thought that maybe that would be my "in." I applied for it and got a call for a short phone interview the following week. The minute I started talking with the HR person, I knew this job was amazing. The clients are mainly food and wine, and the job requires some travel to places like Miami, New Orleans, Boston, Seattle. I immediately was bound and determined to get this job.

Thankfully, I was asked to come into the office for a full-on interview. So I updated my portfolio and got some writing samples together. I remembered all of the basic techniques of a job interview, and having helped interview many people for work, I knew that it was going to take more than a clean portfolio and decent writing sample to get me to stand out. Everyone knows to do that stuff, but not everyone goes above and beyond what is asked of them.

So I whipped out my creative side and drafted a pretend food-related blog post for their company blog (something they are very well known for). It was rather cheesy, I'll admit, but I wanted to showcase my writing skills, food knowledge (beyond just "I like it") and creativity.

That interview went so great. I equivocate it to an awesome first date - you feel comfortable, at ease and like this is where you belong. It sparked this new desire in me that I hadn't experienced since college - that whole "the world is my oyster" kind of passion that drives me to go after what I want rather than just going through my days with a perfunctory approach.

And like that date that goes so well, eventually major insecurity ensues. "What if they don't like me? What if the chemistry was just my imagination?" I even found about.....get ready for it.....another woman! Through some sleuthing skills, I discovered a girl whom I assumed was going for the position as well. After reading her credentials on LinkedIn, my heart sank. This girl seemed perfect for the job.

I hate to admit that this actually led to me shedding tears, but since we all know this story has a happy ending, I can throw that in there for drama. I was so disappointed that I'd gotten my hopes up, and here this perfect person was going to take it all away from me, even though I just knew I could do that job.

Thankfully, I put to good use another invaluable skill in the PR world - utilizing who you know. I contacted a girl I knew from the SF office, and she got in touch with a girl who worked with her but had recently transferred from Sac. She was able to do a little recon for me, which I feel like is the whole reason I got this job - she discovered I was still in the running, but if I had any more proof of my food and wine skills, I'd better demonstrate it.

That refueled my fire, and I got to work right away, drafting an email to all those who'd interviewed me. I wanted to provide supplemental information, particularly because a 1-page resume and quick interview can't fully demonstrate what I'm capable of. I highlighted my relevant skills and did so in a catchy, gimicky way.

It worked.

I was offered the job a week later. When I was first offered, I don't think it sunk in. I had been so prepared to make my rejection speech, it totally caught me off guard when they told me they wanted me!

So there it is - my exciting news about how I'm movin' on up in the PR world! My passion, drive and excitement has been re-ignited. I'm no longer on autopilot, and I'm ready to put in the time and elbow grease.

Some girls fantasize about snagging their dream man. I fantasized about snagging my dream career, and I think it's safe to say that this little PR lady will be living happily ever after.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

No, I'm Not Down with O.P.P.

I'm having some boyfriend problems. No, not with my non-existent boyfriend - rather, with other people's boyfriends. I consistently find myself seriously annoyed at the choices people in my life make regarding significant others.

"But Tracy," you say, "isn't that their business and not yours?"

You're right. It is. But I can't HELP it! I want to scream at some people!

"But Tracy," you say, "aren't you being kind of a Judge Judy right now?"

Yes. Don't you think I'd love to be Supportive Susan? But unfortunately, I'm cursed with actually giving a shit about my friends. Why is it so hard for smart, confident, successful women to date guys on that same level? Why do so many women date men who mistreat them, have zero goals or who haven't been giving them what they want?

Oh, that's riiiiiight. That pesky little think called love. That's what people always say when they try to justify being with shitty people. As someone who's worked in domestic violence prevention for years now, I can tell you the #1 reason women stay with their abusers - because the women love them.

It's the same mentality for women staying with men who aren't abusive, necessarily, but just unhealthy for them in general. People think just because you have these overwhelming feelings that you need to "follow your heart." That is one of the most misused sayings in the world. How about following our heads? You know, our brains?? Or if that's not working correctly, why not listen to that little voice a.k.a. gut feeling? You're all familiar with that one - it's that annoying little bastard that we push away and try so hard to fight against......only to realize in the end that the little shit was right.

Newsflash - love does NOT conquer all! It's an emotion, and emotions can't be the sole reason we make decisions. Emotions ebb and flow; they change. They evolve. They dissolve. It's a very unromantic way of looking at things, but hey, if being realistic means I'm able to get my head out of my ass and not date an asshole, then pragmatism here I come.

I know I'm waaaay up on my sassy horse right now, and I need to just focus on my own life. But I can't describe how difficult it is when you see people settling for less than they deserve. I know people who are with guys who've had affairs, guys who've physically abused them, guys who've lied, guys who've called them every horrible name under the sun, guys who are married (to someone else). Where do we draw the line? When do we start holding these guys accountable for what they've done?

Being forgiving is important. I understand that. I do believe in forgiveness - but I feel like so many times, people are quick to forgive out of the fear of being alone.

Being miserable with someone always appears easier than being miserable alone. Trust me, I understand that concept more than anyone. I've been on the other side. When I would go back with guys that hurt me, it was a quick Band-Aid for the pain I was feeling. You get back together/make up/try to forget the past, and for a moment in time, you're "happy." All seems right in the world.

I thought that meant that being with him was what made me happy and "all better." But everytime I went back, the relationship would deteriorate and slowly erode more and more. It was never the same or as good as it was before. That "make-up" phase was just smoke and mirrors - a distraction from the actual underlying problem.

Now that I'm on the other side of it, I can safely say that being alone is not easy emotionally - at first. But as time goes on, and as I've gotten space from my past, it's been the best part of my young adult life yet. I see clearer now than I ever have. I don't have my head in the clouds or my heart wound up in messy feelings. I'm stronger and more confident than I ever have been. And it was the distance from these bad guys in my life that made me see everything for what it was. Not a week away, not a month. More like years. It's been 2 years since I've been someone's girlfriend, and while I've dated and had guys in my life since then, I've had the most amazing emotional growth spurt.

This growth has allowed me to see what I deserve from a significant other. It doesn't mean I expect perfection because, honestly, I'm not perfect myself (who is, anyway?). It just means that I recognize that there are 7 billion people in this world, roughly half of them the gender I would most likely date (OK, maybe throw my girl crush Lady Gaga in there). I realized that with all of those options out there (maybe not 3.5 billion, but even if that number was 1,000, that's still an immense amount), I don't have to settle on the next guy that makes my stomach go pitter-patter.

No one is the "love of your life" or "the one" (except that John Krasinski from "The Office" is mine, but that's just a given). We have plenty of options, and while we may eventually tie down to one person once we're married, our 20s and young adult life don't need to take a page from "The Notebook." Calm yourselves, people. Falling in love doesn't mean you've found the Holy Grail and therefore no longer need to use your brain. We have the ability to fall in love again and again and again....and the longer you stay with someone who doesn't fulfill you, the less time you'll have with someone who will.

We can all afford to be more selective. Who knows? Maybe if we were all more selective, the shitty people wouldn't keep getting free rides. The bar would be raised, so we'd actually have a larger pool of eligible bachelors.

So, ladies, let's try this on for size - if love really does conquer all, why don't we start making decisions based on the love we have for ourselves? Don't keep letting crappy males get away with being crappy. Have some standards, and for God's sake, stop this whole "love" business from making you all miserable! It doesn't have to be so hard.

*Climbs off soap box*