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.


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!


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.

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.


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”

Posted on April 30, 2010, in Lessons Learned and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. What a lovely recap. Best of luck with whatever comes your way, Susan!

  2. Your such a smartie, your going to make out just fine. You have a great attitude, your young, beautiful, fit…..I see doors opening and opportunity abounding!

  3. oh wow! amazing!! you are an AWESOME woman who has so much to offer this world! God has great things in store!

  4. You’ve come so far and are entering such an awesomely exciting part of your life now! I’m so proud =)

    Enjoy the first weekend of your funemployment lol

    Nicole G

  5. Wow, Susan. This whole summary of your job life…it just is concrete evidence of a thing I believe in, and that is that happiness does not come from job security, or money, or “high position” in society. You MAKE your own happiness, and take it wherever life leads you. you’re a wise girl, and I know whatever you do, you’ll succeed. Success is not measured by material things!

  6. This was a wonderful post! :) Thanks for sharing!
    My first job was at Wendy’s and I really liked it!

  7. What a great post, anda great message! So glad you found happiness :)

  8. That was such a lovely history of your work life! When I think about all the jobs, ive had and where ive ended up it makes me incredulous. But happy. Good luck on this hugely exciting new chapter.

  9. This was a great post. I’m going to be graduating from university into less than two weeks, and as someone who also has social anxiety, this made me feel better about going into the big wide world. Thanks, and best of luck to you!

  10. Awww!
    Lovely post, Susan!
    That was beautiful :)
    Have a great weekend, girl!
    Brazilian XOXO´s,

  11. i havent read this yet, i just saw you tweet about your layout so i came to look~ i LOVE LOVE LOVE it! the sidebar at the BOTTOM? that is awesome. i really like it a lot susan.

    also, i cant wait to read your posts.. i have 415 in my reader, hope to get to that after blog business!

  12. omg…seriously I have tears in my eyes! I am such a sap. This is by fav my fav post that you have ever written. Amazing. I am so proud of you!

  13. Awesome post. Just enjoy this time where you are searching for what’s next :). I’m just a tad jealous! :)

  14. I love this post. I am also learning that happiness is anywhere and everywhere, and it comes from within- not what we are doing or acheiving, but an internal sense of contentment. I am so excited for you and…kind of jealous Hehe.

  15. You go girl! You’ve got great experience and now comes a time you need to search yourself out and figure out what you truly want to do. I was jobless for 6 months this past winter and really figured out what I wanted to do, something I loved and wasn’t going to take anything that came along. Enjoy your time off, live a simple life and soul search!!

  16. Great post! It really hit home……some times we all need to reflect on our lives and see how far we have come :)

  17. I’m so glad you shared this overview… I am in the midst of working towards a job change and it’s very scary. I am excited to see what life has in store for you!

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