Self-Reflection: Et al

Thanksgiving is this week. I’m excited. Good food, good company, and a room full of family is always nice. I’m thankful all my friends and family who have my best interests in mind and are there to support me at my highest of highs and lowest of lows. Every winter, I tend to self-reflect and think back to how I made it to this point of my life.

2015

I’ll always remember 2015 as the year I had to buckle down and make my own plans. I think everyone who graduates has not the slightest idea what to do afterward — lost even. You’re not picking from a list of classes and your diploma might look nice, but it’s still just a very expensive piece of paper with your name on it. My habits from partying carried with me and I honestly did not see it as a problem. I had no car to get around, but with the forceful assistance of my dad, we bought a brand new Toyota from the dealership. Looking back, this was a very stupid idea made only less appealing with my father in the picture.

I managed to get a job just five minutes from home — which only made owning this car kind of pointless. I was already $15K in debt in student loans and another $15K for the cost of the car — not exactly the best feeling when you’re trying to sleep at night. Not counting the few grand I had in credit cards and my serious dependency on drugs and alcohol, I felt like I was in hell with no way out. Thankfully, I just sucked it up and went about working with the full intention of digging myself out of debt and fast. My student loan forbiddance was going to run up — better to get my shit together now with whatever little money I made.

For my first job right out of college, I worked as a project manager. We made websites for clients and my job was to get all their needs or requests written down and sell them a predetermined layout — quite easy to do looking back. My boss was a creep and all my co-workers told me at one point they felt the same way, but never could speak out about it without fear of losing their job. At one point, I was doing well — too well and everyone noticed. My web dev skills helped immensely and work that would normally be sent our developers in India would be done by myself. I got laid off. It was a Wednesday, but they paid me for the entire week — which made the sudden news a bit less terrible.

I made it only a few weeks before I found another job, but in South Pasadena. It was more or less the same job prior, except I was in charge of everything. My only grip was the people I worked for lacked of direction and had a general “winging” it attitude. I had no idea what I was doing everyday and they seemed to gawk at the fact I asked for a list of to-dos. Fun fact: my boss was the creator of one of my favorite Nickelodeon shows growing up — Chalk Zone. He told me he was the one who named “The Fairy Oddparents” — much to my amazement. He was nice, but his wife wasn’t. I miss you, Bill.

I was here for a few short months before I became fed up with her insistent yelling and bad temper. I put in my notice in the beginning of the week and left on a Friday. I miss being around South Pasadena and being able to explore the neighborhood. Parking was kind of a bitch, but I never ran into anyone who was mean or didn’t have a sincere smile on their face. I sincerely miss this time for that reason.

I was struggling, but looking back, it wasn’t too bad. Not a walk in the park, but a jump into knee deep water.

2016

A few weeks later, I got an interview for a company that sold appliances and it was for customer service. A marketing guy doing customer service sounds bad and believe me — it was. My interviewer knew I had marketing skills, but agreed I would do customer service for the initial 3 months and switch to strictly marketing. Seeing how I was in desperate need of money, I said fuck it and got the job.

I have the upmost respect for people who have to cater to the needs of the angry and irate. There’s a certain level of people-oriented-ness needed. I got good at taking calls, with the occasional lie thrown in to appease people, but could not wait to call it quits. Once I did become the marketing assistant, I got a small pay raise and I reported to a guy named Philip.

Philip was chill — in all sense of the word. He smoked a ton, but so did I and even admitted he tried to recruit me a few months prior but I had ignored him. Oops. I went full circle and my world felt incredibly small this year. I learned much of what I know now about e-commerce from him and if I ever bumped into him in the 626, I’d buy him a drink (or boba) just to say thanks. Marketing and e-commerce is all bullshit and lies — that’s truth.

I moved up quickly, but towards Q4 of this year, we were looking to expand to a newer and much bigger office. We were to move to Rancho Cucamonga of all places — one hour of driving each way. My boss lured me by promising a pay raise if I were to come along. I reluctantly agreed, but he said, “Come with us. I’ll make sure you’re taken care of.” I took his word in full faith.

I knew I was essentially untouchable. I managed multiple accounts and sales rose sharply. I directed videos, wrote scripts, listings and copywriting. Everyone knew or saw — probably because I didn’t keep a low profile or fly under the radar. I like to talk — sue me. I thought this was a job for the long-term but couldn’t be further from the truth. Upon moving to Rancho Cucamonga, I had become fed up with the poorly way everything was run and hostile treatment I was put under. Two hours of driving was not worth it and I could not stand another day with these people.

I had one meeting with my boss and asked what happened to his empty promises. He could not give a straight answer and with that — I left immediately. Fuck all of them. Never before I have ever felt such mistreatment from all of my co-workers or felt so swindled by an employer. I remember this as a hard life lesson and I don’t owe loyalty to anyone who cuts my checks. I’d stick up for myself before I had someone push me around again.

The same year, I had a group of friends — all female, I saw every weekend to go drinking. I didn’t know it then, but they weren’t looking out for me. They were all SB alumni — one even crashed my end of the year rager. I told her to get the fuck out, but proceeded to sidestep me. Figures. Every weekend, I got trashed beyond belief, but it was fun and there was no one to tell me no. Six beers, a few shots, a cigarette or two, and maybe a burrito later, I was fucked up.

This was not my finest hour and am thankful I’m not the same person from several moons ago. I smoked constantly and did a number of things that put my life in jeopardy. I was sad the life I had was gone — as was my group of friends I saw daily. A few poorly timed comments is all it took to realize I needed to drop these people from my life. I don’t miss them the least bit. I did go back to visit everyone a few times, but subsequent visits made me realize I had to let this place go for the better. Everyone I knew moved on and all was left was a town of nobodies and the places I use to frequent.

The year after graduation was a rough. They don’t teach you too much about having a job but hating it in college — and they should. It was around this time that I realized I needed to change, but not the slightest idea how. Drinking is fun — even if it’s binge drinking and the occasional hangover. Smoking feels good, but my lungs felt terrible and the smell is less than pleasant. It’s difficult to change if you surround yourself with others who have the very habits you’re looking to break free from.

2017

For the better part of almost 4 months, I took it easy and lived off the money I had saved. I consider this my cooling off period as I had not once taken a sick day or called off work. By some weird stoke of fate, I got a job by one my previous employer’s competitors. I was instantly hired when they knew who I used to work for.

The commute was only minutes away and I was in charge of the entire e-commerce network. I worked my magic and knew I would be in direct competition with everyone I knew in Rancho. But this made my job more exciting and like a fresh start. Sales jumped as expected but I kept butting heads with my co-worker. He took credit for a few projects I worked on exclusively, which put me off on a bad mood. In all sense of the word, he felt threatened. I was the only college educated person working there.

As time went on, my co-worker became more hostile. My sales numbers didn’t sway his opinion and he insisted I follow his lead when I knew better. One meeting was setup to make it seem I like fucked up on multiple listings — even though up until this point, everything was cleared to go live from my co-worker. Honestly, fuck you Jason. The same day, I said to everyone bluntly, “I don’t like it here. I’ve already found a job. I’m gonna leave right now.” It floored everyone and that was the last I ever those guys. I was relieved, yet oddly satisfied. Everything I did or made I took with me on a flash drive. I didn’t owe them anything.

Closing Thoughts

It’s been interesting since I last walked across stage. Life threw me a curve ball or a few. I’ve met some people I missed and some I loathed or despised. Not every new opportunity was genuine — many are dead ends. I struggled financially, found some way to pay off a car I didn’t want, did well enough to buy another, and found the strength to continue forward. I’ve had many downs and a couple ups, but in the end, with enough determination and will, I became somebody. Stick up for yourself and don’t let life hold you back. You don’t owe anyone anything. Better late than never. My clock is ticking and my God I’m not here to waste another minute feeling sorry for myself.

The future is bright and I like a bright blue sky. Later world. Keep at it.

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