To Thine Own Self, Be True
Years later as I drove home crying from the job I’d just been fired from, I thought of that woman and understood.
Whether or not it was intended, what I have approached the world with is an attitude that I should take any job I get offered. “Work isn’t fun, that’s why it’s called ‘work’ and not ‘play’.” - Mr. Yogurt.
Ever since 1994, when I took my first college course, I’ve never considered what I’d like to do. I’ve only considered what I can do. Of course I didn’t grow up wanting to be a secretary; nobody does. Everything that I would want to do requires college. And my mind doesn’t really work that way. Just like K-12, in college I was given grades as gifts. I had almost no homework. My idea of studying for a test was cracking open the book and reading through it on my lunch hour the day of the test. College was a joke to me. I’m not, and never have been, impressed with my diploma. Some people frame theirs and hang it in their office. I gave mine to my mother two moves ago – I’m not even sure if she has it. If it’s been thrown out, I don’t really care. If I ever have to prove that I did graduate, I can get that proof from the college. Perhaps if I’d had to work harder at college, or had learned more there, I’d have more respect for my diploma. But I didn’t, so I don’t.
Sometimes being a legal secretary is hard. But it’s never rocket science. Ever. Could a high school kid do my job? Yes, a smart one with excellent social skills. There are days where all I’m doing is typing what I’m reading, for hours on end. For so long that the muscles in my wrists are twitching. Really. Not rocket science.
I’ve had, and been fired from, enough jobs that I know how I work best. I know what helps me to avoid getting fired. There’s a lot to hide when you have learning disabilities. So I need any law firm I work at to have a solid IT Department. A word processing department is helpful too. Despite the fact that I use computers all day, I’m not a computer person. And the truth is, I don’t give a shit. I am uninterested in learning.
I know, great attitude. But it’s the truth. Not something to advertise in an interview, but my own personal truth. I just don’t care about computers. Some people would love the opportunity to take a computer apart and see how it works and why it works the way it does. I would love the opportunity to take apart a person’s mind, explore their background and life, and see why they work the way they do.
Last week I accepted a temp-to-perm job at a law firm. Everything was rushed, and I had a few hesitations about it, but went anyway. One of the hardest things for me to deal with was the hours – having to be at work at 8:30 a.m.
Never mind that high school started at 7:30 a.m. Never mind that when I worked in Manhattan I had to leave the house at 6:50 a.m. This is now, and now I’m not good at being out of the house by 8 a.m. I simply can’t move fast in the early morning. There were a lot of other problems at the firm I worked at last week, and on Thursday night, after talking to a friend, I decided I couldn’t stay there. And that’s the whole point of temping – for the company to see if they like you and for you to see if you’d like to work with them permanently.
Except, I always just considered the first part. Because my goal was always to try to get them to hire me. Screw whether or not I liked them – I’ve never felt I was in the position to choose. Beggars can’t be choosers and all that. I have always just taken whatever I could scrounge up for myself. But I’m tired of living that way. Because what always happens is that I eventually get fired. I could have taken this temp job. But with the years of experience that I have behind me, I could see what would eventually happen. Either I’d get fired, or quit. This firm is not organized, and they do patchwork, rather than preventative medicine (i.e., only fixing problems when attorneys scream, rather than spot-checking and making sure everything works). Even when problems are pointed out, the firm still doesn’t fix them. On Thursday I spent four hours unable to work because the IT Department decided to reinstall a program on my computer (during the workday!). On Friday my computer was no better than it had been Thursday morning.
And that’s not what I want. It’s not how I like to work. This was a very difficult decision for me – to walk away from a job. It seems crazy. I’m not one of those people who have great luck, who people fall all over themselves to be around, who has some amazing skill that not many others have. Any asshole can do what I do. So I’m scared. And hoping to hell I’ve made the right decision.
This weekend I spent time on the phone with the recruiter who placed me at this firm. Numerous times I had to tell her, “This is just not the right environment for me.” You could tell I was ruining her weekend. She kept telling me she was just concerned because I’d already been out of work for so long. Umm… it hasn’t been two months yet. I’ve been out of work in the past for almost a year. That’s “so long.” This? This is just … nothing. Of course I say that with the safety of unemployment and months worth of savings.
This morning I interviewed at a different place, one that had a dungeon-esque quality to it. Local counsel at an insurance company. Can you say DULL? There were two people aside from me at the interview, and I was the least socially awkward of the group. There were a lot of long silences. One of those two people is leaving, and maybe she’ll take the awkwardness with her when she goes, but maybe not. They offered me a job, which I’m not taking. Being true to yourself is hard when it means turning down money.