Tuesday, May 21, 2013

the top ten things I got from the job I BLEW OFF

I hate it when girls on reality shows or in actual life say things like  "your career won't keep you warm at night."  Say what? A good career affords you money to pay for your heat and buy a really nice down comforter.  And plus, have you ever tried living with a guy?  They like blast the air conditioner at all times.  Relationships keep you freezing at night! 

Let's be real, friends.  Careers are important.  And when we're not happy with where our work lives are going, it can seriously mess with other parts of our lives too.  I worked at a company for a LONG time where I ultimately wasn't very happy.  There were wonderful things about what I was doing, but I wanted to be a writer, and the job just seemed like it was standing in the way of my dream career.  I felt like a little piece of me was dying every day that I went to work (it didn't help that the view from my office was of a cemetery).  But now I can look back on it the same way I look back on an old relationship: it wasn't for me, but I still gained something.

So...here are the top ten silver linings you might be missing from that career you secretly want to dump:

10.  Money.  Duh.  I know it's not everything, but if the job you hate right now affords you the ability to go on trips or eat out or visit a doctor, then that can go a long way.  I was lucky enough to earn a salary that also allowed me to slowly put money away.  By the time I quit, I had enough in my savings account where I could comfortably pursue writing for a year and still pay my bills.  And that was also a product of the fact that I stuck it out at my job for enough time where I was able to get promotions and raises. 

9.  Contacts!  If the job you're not into is somewhat related to what you really want to be doing for a living, then don't underestimate all the contacts you'll be making.  The first script sale I ever had was through a work contact.  The first TV pilot I wrote was optioned by a production company whose CEO was a former work colleague.  And best of all, my former bosses hired me to write a web series after I left the company that won me a Daytime Emmy.  Um, totally cray.

8. How to talk in a room.  Even if you are planning to leave the corporate job behind to go into a more creative field, you still have to know how to act in a professional setting.   At my old job, we had staff meetings every week where I had to pitch upcoming storylines on the TV series I covered to a room full of scary high-powered executives.  I dreaded those meetings.  I was nervous every single time I had to speak, but being forced to do that has helped make it so much easier when I've had to do writing pitches.

7. How to Write.  As mentioned, my former career was at least closely related to what I wanted to be doing for a living.  (I was a creative executive on a soap opera, which meant I worked closely with the writers.)  Even if some of the writers I worked with went out of their way to make my life miserable, all the exposure I had to them and all the story meetings I was in, helped me learn a ton about character and storytelling.  You never know what you're learning at work that can help you blossom at your next job.

6. How to deal with assholes.  The work place can be a lot like high school and even though I worked with some really amazing people, I also worked with some assholes.  I'm sure I was an asshole some of the time (and some times, that's how you have to deal with assholes.  Be one right back.)  But for the most part, dealing with tougher personalities helped me grow a backbone which has helped me immensely in an industry filled with scary people.

5.  Patience.  I am the most impatient person in the world.  Seriously.  Like, if I'm standing behind someone in line and they are making endless small talk with the cashier, I want to murder them.  But I still managed to stay at my old job for a long time even though I thought about quitting a lot.  And looking back on it, I left at the perfect time.   If I had left any earlier, I wouldn't have had the means to support myself, and I would not have forged as many relationships.  Learning to be patient also helped me in my writing career-- when things don't pan out or when it takes someone a reallllly long time to read a script, I don't freak out over it.

4. Inspirational female role models.  I happened to work in an industry that was mostly dominated by female executives.  One of the first bosses I had at the company always took all her calls on speaker phone and I learned so much just by listening to her put out fires (I also learned the phrase "fuck him and the horse he rode in on").  She also told me tons of stories of when she first started out in her career (in the era of Mad Men) so it was a great reminder that things used to be much harder on us ladies.  Another female boss also taught me that you can be strong and still kill people with kindness.  She ended up leaving the company and is now working as a writer too! 

3.  Gratitude.  I went from a very stable career to a very unstable one.  It wasn't an easy adjustment, but on the rare cases when things do work out writing-wise, I am that much more grateful for it.  It was good that I had those years to struggle to be able to compare what I'm doing now to a career that didn't always fulfill me.  It helps me appreciate the triumphs and not get too caught up in the failures.

2.  Besties.  I am still close with a lot of my former co-workers.  Many of them were a part of my daily life for seven years.  Guys, that's longer than the people you went to high school or college with.  And many of them (including my old boss) have seen me cry.  A lot of the time you end up spending more time with the people you work with than you own friends and family, so try to make the best of those relationships.  Unless of course everyone you work with sucks, in which case, run like the motherfucking wind, y'all.

1.  The H-Bomb.  He and I would have never met if it wasn't for my former job.  We worked for the same company.  And even though we eventually ended up on opposite coasts, we ignited the spark on a business trip.  Oh, yeah.  Thank you, Travel & Expense. So, girls who tell you your career won't keep you warm can shut up.  Cause your career might help you meet the guy that does.  (Although, seriously, I go to bed in flannel pajama pants, socks, shirt, and sweater, with an extra blanket just to stay warm at night, while the H bomb sleeps over the covers.  No one is keeping anyone warm at night.)