Goodbye, Mi Amiga

Yesterday, my favorite manager – and my friend – told me this would be her final week.

I knew she would quit eventually because she previously mentioned her intentions to return to school. But to my surprise, that’s not why she’s quitting. Her reason is one that surprised me.

She’s tired of the store manager.

The surprise isn’t so much the reason itself as it is being the one she’s leaving. She is genuinely one of the kindest and most cheerful souls I’ve met in my life, and she’s the last person to complain about anything. Even when she does complain, she smiles through it, like she’s trying to brush it off. I knew of her frustrations, but I didn’t know she felt that badly.

I admitted to her I considered returning to being part-time for the seasonal period and she vehemently advised me to remain on-call and ask periodically if I need more work. She worked at this store for four years – since the day it opened – and it was her first job while the manager that eventually pushed her over the edge has been there for less than a year. Were there ever a clear example for the expression of people quitting bosses instead of jobs, this would be it.

I wished her well in life, and I know wherever her next job is, she will be excellent, and hopefully, with better management. While I am sad about her leaving, she unintentionally taught me a lesson in telling me so: never waste your time.

Most people cannot quit without a back-up plan, including myself, and after my experiences this past summer, I’ve been working three jobs out of fear of being fired. However, one has been nothing but trouble since the start due to payroll (they still haven’t paid me for the first day I worked, despite I brought it to their attention no less than four times and was told the problem was fixed, and it’s possible they no longer have the record of the day), lack of breaks during shifts as long as nearly twelve hours, smoking, and ultimately being stranded due to the travel required. I’m not the only one with those struggles at the job. The long-term employees have also expressed them.

The other job is my retail job, which I’ve wanted to quit for over a year due to the store essentially being a sinking ship and paying the least of any job I’ve had, but kept because I have history there, they’ve never screwed up my paycheck, and I genuinely love my co-workers.

The problem is juggling three jobs makes it hard to commit to the one I care about most. However, I’ve been at that job for only 39 days, which is not long enough to fully commit to it and quit the other jobs. While I have no reason to believe I’ll be fired, I thought the same with the two jobs I had in June, and that obviously turned out poorly (one involved a manager attempting to intimidate me due to being nearly twice my size and required getting a police officer involved to retrieve my stuff; the other dismissed me for not being social enough and worrying more about learning the job properly; my school faulted me for both, and I’ve since disassociated with them as a result). I’m too afraid to risk having a false of security again, and want to stick with the newer jobs for at least a year. But I also do not want to waste my time like my friend feels she wasted hers (“four years down the drain”), nor do I want to burn the history I have with my retail job. Even she advised me to always have a back-up plan.

Granted, the job I want to commit to is nothing like the jobs I was fired from, namely in that you get fired if you don’t do your job and you don’t spend the majority of your shift (think seven out of nine hours) doing literally nothing while being expected to pretend you have work to do. However, I feel that’s not sufficient reason to believe I’m safe. For all I know, they could decide they dislike how I style my hair and fire me for that (yes, people do get fired solely because a boss dislikes a trait or feature about them; US laws do not protect against that if it isn’t a protected class and most states are at-will, so employees can be fired at any time for any reason that isn’t illegal in written law; it’s one of the reasons I never want to join management, no matter how long I work somewhere, as that’s a level of coldness that’d keep me awake at night).

I don’t know where my friend will go. I don’t know where I will go. But wherever we do go, I hope there’s a bright future for both of us in the places we want to be in our lives.

“People leave managers, not companies” – Marcus Buckingham

Motivations

Many people say you should want to improve your life for, above everyone else, yourself. And I have always agreed with that.

However, I believe I can understand how and why it sometimes takes others to really motivate someone to move forward. I liken the concept to how it’s easier to forgive others than ourselves, or how we often see our own faults against everyone else’s spotlight. It’s a wildly different perspective.

Something I often hear about parenting is children tend to motivate them their parents to work toward a better future, either financially, physically, or emotionally. While I have no children, I’ve found I do have a powerful outside motivator: my boyfriend.

At one time, my boyfriend told me he was doing poorly in school until we met. After we did, he began doing very well, to the point he was passing his assignments and tests with flying colors. This would be romantic… if not for the fact we hadn’t met in person yet, let alone become a couple! Answer? He’s a hopeless romantic.

I’ve always (playfully) laughed at him for that story, but it seems the tides have turned, and while he’s not my only motivation, he’s definitely the biggest part of it. Yes, there are things I want for myself in life, like my own apartment and car, but I want him most of all to be a part of any future I have. My answer to the question of where I see myself in five years has changed from “I don’t know” to “With him”. Maybe it’s not a good answer on its own, but it’s what I have and what I feel most confident in. Even when I try to think about myself, he tends to come into it.

“I want to a car… to travel around with him.”

“I want my own apartment… for us to live under the same roof.”

“I want school to work out… so I can get a job in this field and have enough money for both of us in case he loses his job.”

There are other reasons I could give that would make these statements about me. For example, I also want trade school to work out for the sake of getting myself far away from retail, a career path I’ve come to consider to be taken intentionally only by masochists. Yet, I feel stronger about the reasons that boil down to us being physically closer than the ones that boil down to my own independence. And yes, I’d be fine with financially supporting him temporarily if I had to while he looked for other work. He’s better than me at doing domestic chores anyway, so he claims.

This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try to better myself if I didn’t have my boyfriend, but I may have less drive to do so. The future frightens me. Having someone to go through it with makes it a little less scary. For a reason I’ve yet to grasp, he often has confidence in me I envy because I can’t find it in myself. Perhaps that’s what makes it easier to fight for someone else: they believe in you, even when you don’t believe in yourself. It’s a different situation than parenting in that his survival doesn’t depend on me, but it is similar in that children usually have unshakable confidence in their parents. Whatever makes him have the confidence in me he does is something I may not understand, but I am ultimately grateful for. Of all the reasons I have, he’s one of the few positive motivations that drive me. I don’t want to be motivated only by getting away or acquiring things, even for the convenience the latter would bring me. Much like I’d only marry for love (if getting married were an active desire of mine), I’d rather be motivated by friendship and love than the ability to run away. I don’t want to feel like I need to run away to improve my life. There’s not much to life if you can only run away. I can only speak for myself, but I don’t want to be alone. It’s not so much that it’s romantic love as it is I have him in my life as someone who does love me and vice versa.

Treat Others… And Yourself

A long conversation with my boyfriend this early morning gave me huge insight into something.

I enjoy writing, particularly fan fiction and my opinions (gee, what gave the latter away?), but it dawned on me less than half a day ago I’ve been writing fan fiction for twelve years – nearly half of my life!

I never put thought into it or considered it a hobby or noticed it becoming one. I don’t recall what sparked it. All I remember is I started shortly after I watched “The Little Mermaid” when it came out on DVD in 2006, when I was 12 years old. It was the first Disney movie I ever watched, and what introduced me to Disney to begin with. I don’t remember that being any sort of inspiration, but it’s closest I can think of as a reason I may have started writing.

There were other hobbies I tried to develop later on, but I failed at them, despite genuinely liking them. As it turns out, it’s not always a bad thing to be selfish.

When I wrote, it was always for myself. Even if I made it public, and I do enjoy sharing, I was still writing for my own sake. I did it when I was bored or had some random idea pop into my mind. Most of the stories I write are kept private. As a pre-teen, I kept it secret partially out of embarrassment because they weren’t good (not to suggest my more recent stories are), but being a reserved person even back then, I didn’t care for anyone to know anyway.

But when I started drawing or playing some games or learning languages, it was for other people from the start. Drawing was sparked by my then huge love of Winx Club and jealousy of others’ amazing art, and the goal was becoming skilled enough to create fan art to share with the fandom. After finding the Sims community, I played the game more and more to create stories to share with the community. I first began learning another language in second grade, but when I got older and tried to study on my own, it was for the sake of being able to communicate with other people, not because I wanted to study. And I should mention I hated writing too… when I was forced to do it.

None of those reasons are necessarily bad, especially not the last one. But the pattern there is I became miserable with those hobbies because I was doing them for other people’s sake, not my own. Yes, I truly liked them, but they reached a point of solely being done to share with other people for their enjoyment. I stopped caring about my own. Realizing that, it’s no wonder they eventually died when I tired of trying. Yet, I never tired of writing stories, nor can I remember ever feeling burned out. I once wrote eight pages in a day. In the huge world of literature, that may be amateurish at best, but for me, it was a big deal because I wasn’t trying to.

This is not restricted to hobbies either. I did poorly in a number of things, particularly school, because they were for the sake of pleasing someone else. For a while, I succeeded in school over, but after a certain age, being a people-pleaser became too exhausting to keep up and I stopped trying so hard just to hear some praise that meant nothing to me because I didn’t want to do it in the first place, nor was I getting anything valuable out of it. Yet, I’ve discovered I am good at finding friendships, as I’ve made friends even when trying to avoid it, and I am good at holding my own relationship. But I am good at those things because although they involve other people, they are still for me. My friendships and my relationship make me happy, which is why I’m rarely hesitant to and very much enjoy doing things for my friends and my boyfriend. And the reason I hold them so highly is because they care for me. What I got out of friendship is love (platonic and romantic) and happiness I didn’t find elsewhere (please forgive the cavity-inducing sweetness). And I clearly have no problem sharing my friendships with the world!

Of course, there’s such a thing as priorities and some things have to be done, no matter how dreadful they are. This is not about that. What I’m referring to are things that are optional (yes, that now includes school). The truth is I have missed those hobbies. I miss when I did draw in my sketchbook, drawing either from imagination and tips I read, or trying to recreate a specific picture. I miss when I played video games because they relieved my boredom and I was interested in continuing the game’s story, not trying to create a story from the game to upload (though I have been slowly getting back into this one). I always hated studying, but I did like to try reading books in other languages after some weeks of classwork in my language classes, and much of the time, I could. I didn’t care I couldn’t understand what it was actually about (because I couldn’t translate quickly). I just enjoyed I could read it. I once got fun out of reading an Italian dictionary when I was still taking Italian class in tenth class, and I used to play around with DuoLingo, an app for learning languages, for the fun of the games. There may be other hobbies I’ve dropped as well, but I don’t recall them.

All along, the burn out wasn’t from doing too much, but from trying to give so much. During most of my childhood, I heard how “giving to others is a gift in itself” and “it’s better to give than to receive”. Maybe there’s such a thing as too much giving. As I said, I rarely am hesitant to give to those I care most about because I also enjoy sharing. It’s much simpler than I’m making it sound. It makes more sense to go through so much effort for someone you really love instead of dozens or hundreds of strangers you’ll never meet.

My boyfriend asked me if there’s any way to reignite those former hobbies. After realizing what I did, I think there may be. If I choose to try picking one or more of them up again, I have to remember who they’re intended for: me. They’re for myself and my pleasure. If I make them public, it’s because I want to have another place for them, not because I’m after attention and recognition. I realize those can be good motivational tools for some people, but I’m clearly not one of them. For me, hobbies are much more fun when it’s my enjoyment I have at heart. Thinking only of myself is selfish, but this is not exactly hunger I’m talking about. I’m talking about pastimes. I’m positive no one’s getting hurt.

However, I don’t think I’ll ever overcome the shock of taking twelve years to discover this. I now fear for what else I may be oblivious to. Can I trade this “identity crisis” thing for some more sketchbooks?

To My Best Friend

Today is my best friend’s birthday. We’ve known each other for six years (and counting), and there’s not a day I’m not grateful for her.

We don’t see or even speak to each other much because of what goes on in our own lives, but we try. The one thing that makes me miss my high school years is we walked home together every day. And besides that, those years can die in a fire.

I don’t know what she thinks of herself, but I know what I think of her:

  • She is a wonderfully kind and strong person who works hard and deserves her dreams more than anyone I know.
  • She’s an inspiration to me. Seeing her get ahead with her life makes me happy for and motivates me to keep going with mine.
  • She’s fierce. She doesn’t give up. But she’s kind. She doesn’t stomp on those beneath her.
  • She loves to help others and she gives herself a lot. Sometimes, even if it means putting her needs behind for a bit.
  • But she knows what she deserves. She knows she shouldn’t be treated unfairly.
  • She gives her all in what she does. From a high school student to a regular worker, that hasn’t changed.

She’s someone to be admired and I’m so glad our friendship didn’t falter as high school friendships typically do after graduation. Whatever her goals are, she has me behind her.

Happy birthday, Jen.

Your Friends Lost You

Lately, I’ve seen a somewhat popular post from Whisper going around. I won’t post the image, but the quote is: “When I say I won’t tell anyone, my husband doesn’t count.”

I’ve always been neutral about marriage. This is one of those things that pushes me toward the more negative side of it.

My boyfriend and I are not married yet, but he does want to marry me and I’ve already agreed, so we will marry someday. However, if I ever catch myself thinking “Well, I’m getting married, so soon, my friends won’t matter anymore”, that’s when I call off the wedding. This works the other way around too. If I ever found out he was being distrustful to his friends because of me, I’d call it quits. I am not going to be someone’s reason for being a jerk.

I used to read often that newlywed couples, particularly the wives, tended to lose their friends when they got married. However, if that quote gives any suggestion to married life, it’s no wonder why. They didn’t lose their friends. They decided their friends no longer mattered and chose to permanently put them aside. Perhaps people have different ideas of what “friendship” means, but for me, if I cannot trust you, we cannot be friends.

I love my boyfriend and I am content with the idea of someday being his wife. But I also love my best friend. She is like a sister to me, and she was in my life four years before he was. She is not going on the back burner. Yes, I talk to my boyfriend about my best friend, and vice versa, and I’m hoping I’ll eventually have a chance to introduce them to each other since they are the two most important people in my life. But if she ever comes to me and says, “Please don’t tell anyone this”, he will not know. If I ever do reveal something she wanted me to keep secret, I’ll apologize.

That’s what real friends do.

Continuing to respect my friends does not make me a bad girlfriend, nor will it make me a bad wife. On the contrary, letting him be the reason I stop doing so is what would make me a bad partner.