Daily Archives: April 30, 2010

Reflections, Flashbacks, and Lessons Learned

Four months ago, on January 4th, I started a brand new job. People start new jobs all the time, but I like to think I’ve become a bit of an expert in my 24 years.

My first job was as a cashier at Zellers when I was in grade 11. I lasted the month of December, then politely left the second the holidays were over.

My second job came the summer after grade 11, when I was 17. I was hired on as a barista at a Starbucks in a book store because I used words like “youthful” and “bright” to describe the taste of coffee.

My first day there was probably one of the most nerve wracking experiences of my life. But that job pulled me out of my teenage shell. I’d gone from agoraphobic to a Chatty Cathy in a green apron in just one year. The last day on that job was more bitter than sweet. But high school was over and I was on to, erm, “other” things.

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By other things, I mean another Starbucks in a city 90 minutes away.

I stayed at that Starbucks for two years before I quit to focus on school. Those two years were just as good, if not better, than my previous year as a barista. I met my best friends at that store, had a blast, and made some pretty good drinks!

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I ended up returning to that store when I started to miss the money, and social aspect. However, I ended up leaving after another year, when I scored a job as a radio reporter and broadcaster.


I read the weekend news, working a few extra coffee shop jobs on the side. I became a full-time reporter there once I finished university. I was at the radio station for two years all together, and again learned more about myself than I could have ever predicted. I thought I was doing the right thing by forcing myself even more out of my shell everyday as a reporter. But I guess I have my limits. And this was it.

I was not reporter material, but I will always look back on my days in the radio biz with fondness. There is a certain old romance about radio that you just don’t get with any other medium. I’ll hold on to this old mike sock forever.

I’d started back at Starbucks before I even left my radio gig in December. I’d taken up the role of supervisor to get me through the in-between period of getting my personal training certification and figuring out what the hell I wanted to do with my life.

Then I got an e-mail.

A shot in the dark. An old professor of mine e-mailed me on my old student account three days before Christmas. I got a pull to check that neglected account before leaving for home for the holidays. This professor also happens to be the communications director of my alma matter. A job in the department opened up and he thought of me. Days after leaving what should have been the perfect job, a new one fell into my lap.

And I loved it.

The university campus is beautiful, the people are wonderful, the work is fun and challenging in all the right ways. I was filling in for someone due back in May. So the short-term position worked perfectly in my “what the hell am I going to do with my life?” plan.

Today, four months after starting, I said goodbye to my first ever desk.

In four short months, I learned even more at that job. Not that I had to force myself out of my shell, or put on a veil, or be a certain someone. But rather, I learned to just be. I learned to be myself, to be honest, to be open. I learned happiness is possible no matter where or what I’m doing. Happiness can be where I least expect it, so I better not push it away before I have the chance to experience it. I learned it’s possible to look forward to a job everyday, and feel comfortable in your work environment.

I also learned just how very important note taking is. And how impossibly disorganized I really am.

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I walked out today with pieces that I wrote, contributed to and helped design over the months. A lot of hard work on one little piece of paper.

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They will be placed in the shoebox with my mike sock and green apron. Maybe I’ll pull some of them out again one day, but I fully expect to keep adding to that box as the years go on…

For the first time since I was 17, I do not have another job lined up. I don’t have a plan. It is strange beyond explanation. I feel like a stranger in my own life. But I am excited to finally be taking this jump. Because this month, I learned happiness is possible anywhere. Even though everything from here on out is completely unknown, I’m confident I can be happy wherever I end up.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings.”

- Lewis Carrol, Through the Looking-Glass, “The Walrus and the Carpenter”

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