On an ongoing basis, I correlate my love life and my work life. And as a result, my resume for both are pretty damn colorful. Colorful is my polite euphemism for “clusterfuckish”.
See, with both relationships and jobs, there are many principles one can justifiably build a foundation on:
1. Dating and Courtship
In love, you date. You take a few great nights or afternoons, spend some time, find out about each other, and eventually decide to be exclusive. You ask all kinds of questions about each other–hobbies, life, basic ideals. You find out interests, see if you share common goals, and figure out if you’re truly attracted. Sometimes after a date or two, you’re totally convinced the other person is “the one”. Other times, it’s just not a good fit. And often, one side is in, the other just isn’t.
In the career world, this is the interviewing stage. You each ask about work-related concerns. You want to know what the compensation package and advancement opportunities are; they want to know what you bring to the table, and how you can make the company a better place by being on board.
In both situations, you should be carefully screening the other person. Just because you landed a date or an interview, don’t just assume it’s a fly just because they want you. You’re probably pretty much awesome, so they’re possibly idiots if they pass you up. Then again, you could be a perfect match.
2. The Honeymoon
So, you landed the job. Or, the new lover. Everything is great; you bring coffee in the morning, have all the happy, sweet “good mornings”, and you’re bringing your “A” game 24-7-365.
The little annoyances, like your boyfriend’s snoring, your girlfriend’s first fart in front of you, or your boss’s last minute request for you to whip out a project when you’re already busy are all totally endearing, and you laugh about them. Your boyfriend’s snore is cute, and you watch him. Your girlfriend’s fart is cute and although she’s embarrassed, you’re dying laughing. And your boss–well, that’s why you work there. He’s driven, you’re progressive, and it’s a match.
The honeymoon, however, always comes to a close. That’s when shit gets real.
3. The One Year Mark
This is where you’ve had the chance to get to know the real versions of each other. Ladies, you stopped sneaking out of bed to fix your hair and extinguish dragon breath, only to sneak back into bed and pretend to wake up all cute and stuff. Guys, you’ve not only stopped excusing yourself for farting, but you’ve given your lady a dutch oven. And in the work place, your boss has shown his best–and worst–sides.
Here’s where you gauge carefully what the long-term potential for this relationship really is.
If you still have mostly happy thoughts when you wake up, or you don’t feel the urge to throw your phone out the car window on the 405 during your commute, congrats! You found a match.
If you find yourself scrolling down your Facebook page seeing all those sexy people you wanted to date, the flirtationships you cherished filling your Twitter timeline, or that company you applied at on your LinkedIn timeline, you’ve officially got a wandering eye.
4. Mind Games & Fuckery
In relationships, sometimes we think things are good, but we catch glimpses of things that are either deal breakers or red flags.
It might be your boyfriend or girlfriend acting shitty, showing jealous tendencies, or being overly flirtatious with others. You might even see signs of cheating or abuse. With a boss, it might be incompetence, overly demanding behavior, or lack of respect or appreciation for you.
In both relationships and work life, I have an incredibly low tolerance for lack of respect or abusive behavior. These are the times for you to decide what you’re willing to take, what the trade-off is, and when it’s time to address a situation, or time to part ways.
5. Breaking Up
Breaking up when you live together sucks. In fact, “sucks” is an understatement here. Breaking up gratuitously sucks homeless migrant farm worker balls. Sorry for being so graphic, but seriously–it’s the least ideal situation you can be in when it comes to love.
You have to figure out when to tell them, where to go, how to fund the transition…and then there’s the move. Who takes the flat screen you bought together? What do we do with the pictures? And when you make the Facebook change to “Single”, they’re pretty much gonna be pissed, even if they’re the acting party. Oh, and the fight! Is it a quiet, nice talk? Will they cry? Maybe they’ll beg you to stay, which sucks even more.
It’s the same for quitting a job. The decision to have a few “dates” or send the emails to the potential new employers–the sneaky “secret” calls in the privacy of your office or around the corner behind the trash cans outside the “Purchasing and Receiving” department. If you need the day off, do you schedule vacation? Then, the day you finally tell your boss you’re leaving, they know. You’ve been seeing other people.
In both scenarios, unless you do the classic movie-style “walk out”, you’ve got some time to let things reduce to a contentious simmer, and you bide time until you transition out. You take a few photos or projects you worked on, you hand over your keys, and take one last look around. If you get a hug, you feel a little better.
As you walk to the car, there’s a bittersweet freedom, and an excitement for the new opportunity you feel slightly guilty about. But hey, you don’t have to listen to them snore anymore, or you don’t have to deal with your boss’s pissy attitude when he’s missed lunch and is in the state of “hanger”–when hunger and anger join forces to fuck up your day.
6. Your Resume
If you’re like me, commitment-phobia seems apparent to others by looking at your resume–in love or in the professional world. You might be that person who’s been in a nine-year relationship since high school, or worked for the same company right out of college and stayed through your early thirties.
Either way, your resume is what most others will judge you on.
What did you bring to the table, and what do your former employers or former lovers have to say about you? Sure, everyone has an ex or two that hates their guts. If you’ve got a decent proportion that you are amicable with, you’re doing alright.
The funny thing I realized about my resume as I recently interviewed for a completely different career is that I’ve had so many changes because I didn’t properly “date” first. I interviewed, and focused so much on “getting” the job, I didn’t consider if I truly wanted the job. Had I been as discerning as I was in my dating life, I wouldn’t have picked half those jobs. Although you can’t just be “single” in the working world, because that’s called “epically unemployed”, but you can always go “Clooney” and pick the job that looks good on paper, shut off all emotion and connection, and robot your way through the years.
In love and in work, I have to feel some kind of passion. I have to be inspired, and I have to have that magic day that happens after a streak of boring shit to remind me why I still show up every day. I have to have a challenge that makes me dig deep inside and strive to be a better lover, employee, or contributor to the relationship. And most of all, I have to feel reciprocated appreciation.
Because the first time I fall out of love, I can’t go back to that day when the snoring is cute, the farts are funny, and the late night emails don’t annoy the shit out of me. And in both scenarios, if you see me in a sharp dress and bouncy, runway hair, you should probably know…I’m about to update my resume.
I know that when I find the right love, and the right job, all that stuff will piss me off–but I’ll still love it enough to hate it and still stick around. Frustration that’s worth it must be a sign of the right thing.
Fingers crossed, I prepare to skip out of yet another job, opting for a younger, fresher, and more challenging job that I somehow feel I’ll love, even in times when I hate it.