Honest Pictures · January 2019 - Honest Pictures

Honest Pictures – Week Three – Jobs and Careers

“Will you take a picture of me at my rock bottom?” I asked my Aunt in her kitchen in Spokane. She had just handed me a giant Costco box of Clif bars her kids wouldn’t eat and some leftover food for my journey back to Portland. I would end up eating those Clif bars for dinner every night for two weeks until they were gone.

Rock Bottom

We were visiting Spokane for the weekend, just a few weeks after I’d been fired for the job I moved to Portland for. We were there to get the rest of our stuff out of storage. I had just spent the last few hours lamenting my woes to her about what I assumed was my terrible decision to move away. I had $167 in my checking account, no savings, no job and two higher education degrees that at the time felt as worthless a receipt paper.

Like many other millennials, I was promised that if I went to college and got a degree I could graduate and go do anything I wanted. If I just worked hard, someone would pay me for my hard work. Unfortunately no one told us the economy was going to collapse in 2008 and thousands of graduates would be left scrambling for any part time job that would pay them so they could eat anything besides Clif bars for dinner.

“Many millennials began their working live after the financial meltdown of 2008, when the stock market lost half its value. If they followed their parents’ script, went to college, and took on debt, expecting their parents’ results. Instead they were greeted with an economy in free fall and fewer opportunities in the traditional job market.”

Vicki Robinson & Joe Dominguez, Your Money or Your Life
Book review here

We made our way back to Portland and our tiny room at my Aunt and Uncle’s home. Jesse continued to work, and I continued to job search and sleep as much as I could. I didn’t do much else and being awake became kind of exhausting. Eventually I managed to get a part time job that paid $10/hr at an upscale outdoor mall in a city just south of Portland. That income allowed us to apply for an apartment in another city south of Portland and we moved again into a really shitty apartment that we could only just barely afford.

I had a lot of fun at that job, but it was still customer service and it felt like a huge step back from the management position in customer service that I left in Spokane. Except now I was paying twice the amount of rent and didn’t have health insurance on top of no full time work. I was making friends though. They were fun and I dipped back into the drinking again. I would not say I had a problem with drinking I just spent too much of my time and money doing it. I was just coming out of my depression and my new friends helped with that a lot. They also liked to go out a lot and I just went along and had a good time. My Instagram posts from the time do not lie about this.

It was not an office. It was a customer service kiosk. Let’s be real folks.

I still felt really stupid for leaving a full time job that paid more to start a part time job that paid less. So I made sure to make my job seem extra fun and cool online. The thing is it was fun and cool. I was working for the property management company for the mall and they let me help out in the office a few days a week doing some marketing, which was the field I was trying to get into. My boss was crazy, but the people were nice and my coworkers were really wonderful. But still, I wanted everyone online to believe that it was paying me much more than it was and it was a full time real career job. That was just a damn lie.

Eventually I had to get a full time job. The part time work was not cutting it and I also really needed to figure out something that would boost me into marketing. So I took a job at FedEx Office, which was really another glorified customer service gig, but with the promise of learning Adobe Creative Suites on the side. A promise that was kept and allowed me to get my next and first career job. So it all worked out but I just have to say that that job was almost worse than any other customer service job I had previously. I don’t know what it is about a place that is literally just supposed to ship packages and print paper for you, but holy shit I’d never been so disrespected in my life. So I spent a lot of time really fucking mad. I’d go to work mad, come home mad, and spend my time off getting mad about having to go back to work. What a nightmare.

The cool part about FedEx though was that I worked with a lot of older people who were really helpful and encouraging to me to not work there forever. They really helped hone my Photoshop skills and we got in some damn good Photoshop wars.

Eventually I’d come home from work and apply for five jobs a day. I was getting interviews like crazy, but nothing was panning out. Then I got a call for a job I didn’t even remember applying to. They wanted to interview me. I spent the next day actually reading through my job application and figuring out what in the world the job was for. Honestly, I still didn’t get it. It was an architecture and engineering firm and they wanted a marketing coordinator to work on things called proposals and put them into layout so I had to know InDesign. Well, of all the creative suites, InDesign was not my strongest, but what the hell. I did the interview and more than the job or the company I really felt strongly toward the woman who interviewed me. She was really excited about my background and didn’t mind at all that I had no experience in the industry or doing anything remotely like this. I almost cried when she actually looked at my education and said my degrees were what helped her make the decision to call me for an interview. Every interview I’d been on before then hadn’t even asked me about them. She could tell from all the side work I had been doing that I was really serious about landing something full time that could benefit from my writing and computer skills. I accepted the job and my income doubled over night.

I did it! I was working full time, not living pay check to pay check and I had some amazing coworkers….for about three months. Then the restructuring came. The company wasn’t doing too well. They laid off my boss, who was really my support with the company, then my amazing co workers all started to take new jobs because they didn’t like the new management. Also, I hated the projects we were working on and without the support of my old boss I was left to do a job I wasn’t really prepared for or hired on to do. Still, my online presence was assuring anyone who was watching that I had MADE IT.

So I spent my days looking for a way out again. My group that started with six people went down to 100% turnover in a year. They hired one person to help me and I was suddenly the most senior marketer at the company with one year of experience. Luckily they hired someone really amazing who had been in the industry forever and realized her mistake in taking this job the moment she showed up. We both were trying to get out and she actually helped me get an interview at the company I work at now.

Now I could tell you that my new job of almost two years is perfect and wonderful and I have it made. It’s true my income shot up again with it, and I do have a great office location with amazing coworkers. I am lucky in that regard. but I am coming to realize that this industry is not for me. I like it well enough and it works for now, but I’m not raving all over social media about my perfect occupation or anything anymore. It just wouldn’t’ be the truth. The truth is it’s working for now and I’m happy enough.

Five years ago I would have looked at me now and thought YES WE FINALLY DID IT. WE HAVE ARRIVED. But the more I work and the more time I put into something I’m not super passionate about the less I think I really have ‘made it’. I’m starting to realize that there is nothing more valuable than my time. The moments I have left. How do I want to spend it?

So that’s the truth of my entire journey from Spokane to Portland. It’s been kind of crazy. The beginning had lots of downs, and I wasn’t always honest online about any of it really. The last three years though have been really lovely and I’m enjoying it a lot. We’ll see what happens next, but I promise I’ll be more honest about it as it comes up.

Push Ups: Still on a resting break as my wrist has been killing me this week, but I am 95% healed and will take up the task of getting back to it this next week. I don’t want to give up on this goal.


YouTube Throwbacks

Craigslist Jobs: Entry Level Opening

Behind the video: I felt like sharing one of the later videos with you all this time. Mostly because it relates a bit to what my post for this week will be for honest photos. This was posted in September of 2013 just a few days before I was going to be fired from the job I hated that I moved to Portland for. I was already job searching so I had a feeling the end was nigh I just didn’t realize how nigh. In the video I talk about a disturbing job posting on Craigslist and try to make light of my situation. In the realm of honesty I was not in a good place, not happy with my move and really upset at being so far from my significant other. Enjoy the throwback!

Honest Pictures · January 2019 - Honest Pictures

Honest Pictures – Week Two – Honest Social Media

LiveJournal: 2004-2006

MySpace: 2005-2007

Facebook: 2007-Present

Instagram: 2013-Present

That is the lifespan of my social media accounts. These were and are the big four where I can remember portraying myself for the first time in a way that wasn’t always 100% honest. These four platforms of Live Journal, MySpace, Facebook and Instagram are the ones where I put enough of myself into them that I can still go back and see what kind of person I was pretending to be when I was on them. Livejournal wasn’t for pictures. It was for airing your teenage thoughts in an extremely vague way and hoping someone would comment and ask you if you were alright or say that they thought you were funny. It’s the first social platform I can remember being solidly addicted to. Here is a sample of 15 year old me being sad on it.

This was the least embarrassing entry I found. I cringed so hard today reading all these that I think I broke a blood vessel. I was the weirdest teenager. Also, remember when texts cost money and weren’t unlimited?

Unfortunately (or fortunately?) MySpace took off in such a different direction than it was in in the early 2000s that you can’t go back and see your posts or your friends. Profiles have changed and the platform looks nothing like it once did. If you still have an account you were too lazy to delete, it’s impossible to go back and see what you’ve posted, which is probably a good thing. I remember being a bit of wannabe ‘scene kid’ when I was in high school. I was really into going to local shows, dyeing my hair bright shades of red, wearing belts sideways, and taking many many selfies with my giant digital camera hoping that I could pull off a great MySpace bathroom pic.

This is the closest I ever got in photo form to feeling like I was belonging of being super fucking cool *CRINGE*

It was the first time I remember feeling like I could never look a certain way. Remember those scene hair cuts the girls had? Short, weird layers, highlights, parted on the side. I wanted to have one so badly, but my hair was just too thick to pull it off. Now I love my thick hair, but I remember just thinking it was the worst thing to not look like everyone else I was seeing online. I also was poor. I couldn’t go buy band t-shirts, collar shirts to stick under them, multiple studded belts, etc. My parents would also kill me if I got snake bite piercings, which fortunately I only wanted really badly for a week or two. This is all extremely embarrassing now that I type it up, but it’s the truth and it’s important to tell it because this was the first time in my life that I played the COMPARISON GAME.

Depressed

Then came Facebook. Instagram luckily didn’t exist in 2008-2009 when I first moved to Seattle to go to school. I can only imagine how my mental state would have deteriorated even further from it if it was around. I did however post on Facebook a few times about how awesome I was doing, how Seattle GOT me and how I was living this great life at college. I felt like I had to lie and let people think I was doing really well there. I saw everyone else living their best lives online and I thought, why is my life not like that? Not even thinking that maybe those people weren’t doing as good as they said they were.

Truthfully, I hadn’t really made any friends, I lived in a single dorm, ate alone and walked to class alone. I had a few friends that were living in the area and saw them sometimes, but mostly I was alone and my boyfriend at the time (now husband) lived six hours away. My parents had just gotten a divorce, I moved to a city I didn’t know anyone in, I was dealing with a some problems that were all about to come to a head, and I was depressed. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but it took me a year after I graduated and moved back home to finally understand how bad it was.

Starvin’ like marvin’

Facebook was JUST taking off and no one really understood how it worked yet, or what you were supposed to do with it. I didn’t really post on any social network sites during this time, but I have a few pictures I took of myself during this time and was close to developing an eating disorder. This is one of the few pics I have at the time. I wasn’t unhealthy thin yet, I don’t have any pictures of that time, but I was eating hardly anything and I continued to from October 2008-June 2009. Luckily I moved back home after I graduated and my eating habits returned to semi-normal although it wouldn’t be until 2012 that I really felt I had a normal relationship with food again. I still look back at my time in Seattle as a really lovely time, but sometimes it scares me to think about the person I was becoming.

Essentially all this so far has just been to show you how social media shaped me from my very first account until now. How we put the version of ourselves out there that we want other people to see. To show you that what you see isn’t always the truth.

Then came INSTAGRAM. I resisted getting an account for SO LONG, but finally took the leap in 2013. I do really enjoy Instagram. I’m not knocking it, but I think it’s important to be honest about our lives when we share photos and also to help people realize that what you’re seeing is a curated, chosen snapshot of someone’s day: not the real life they are living.

I think the best way to show you the truth is sharing some photos I posted during the first two years that I moved from Spokane to Portland. The in between time from my undergrad degree in Seattle to my life in Portland was filled with a great part time job in Spokane with the best coworkers who turned into the best friends, lots of drinking (I just turned 21) and getting a masters degree because I didn’t want to grow up and school seemed easier. Also Spokane had ZERO jobs at the time and I eventually turned 23 and really needed to get my shit together. So I started applying to jobs in Seattle and Portland and I got one in Portland immediately so I put in my two weeks, packed up my car, prepared to do a long distance relationship (again) and peaced out of Spokane. I was nervous, but excited. I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing, but I knew I was never going to find the job I wanted in Spokane. Also, from the moment I moved there in 2002 I’d been trying to escape.

Peace out Spokane. Bigger and better pastures is what this picture says. What this picture doesn’t tell you is that I spent two hours crying before I took it, not wanting to leave my boyfriend (again) and unsure if I was making a good decision.

I was going to stay with my Aunt and Uncle in Portland until I could save enough to move out. Jesse was planning on following me once he found a job and all we had to do was save money and wait. It would be EASY. And if it wasn’t easy (and it wasn’t) I sure as shit wasn’t going to tell anyone about it. I started my new job the next day and realized quickly that I had fallen into a terrible, terrible call center scam. Oh, stupid me. Stupid me. Still, it wasn’t a bad company and if you could crush it hard enough at sales you could move up to actually do search engine marketing for them (the job I thought I was getting). It just took some dedication and time. Unfortunately for me, I’m really bad at sales. Really bad. Mostly because I don’t believe in them. I’m really against selling someone something they don’t need or really want. So for the next two months I got up at 4am, drove to work pep talking myself and crying, got on the phones, didn’t make sales, and felt like complete and utter shit.

Honesty for once, but I tried to turn it into a joke. I was drinking half a bottle of something every day.

One great thing about Portland is we have the BEST food. THE BEST FOOD. I didn’t know anyone and I was sad so I spent a lot of time after work eating. And when that didn’t make me feel better I spent a lot of time after work drinking. I made this all sound VERY cool of me but I was putting on weight and getting majorly depressed. Even more depressed than my time in Seattle and this time I knew how to recognize it. All I wanted to do was sleep. On the weekends I’d wake up, pretend to be normal for a few hours and then go in my room to pretend to job search and just fall asleep again for six more hours. I was spending every moment I wasn’t at my awful job sleeping, drinking, or eating. I missed Jesse. I missed my old job (actually almost tried to get it back and admit defeat). I missed having friends. I missed not having panic attacks at the thought of going to work.

Mercifully the job fired me at the 3 month mark (just before I would have been eligible for health insurance, nice job America). **Side note: I was able to get insurance for a year and a half after this for free through the affordable care act and I am so grateful. It allowed me access to birth control, dental care I desperately needed and antibiotics when I had an infection during this time)** I was confused, scared, but also a bit happy because I didn’t think I could handle it much longer. I kept it to myself for a few days intending to tell Jesse on Monday. Instead he called me first and told me he found a job in Portland. Well….here we go. We decided to make the move official and he came to live with me in my tiny room at my Aunt and Uncles where I put on a brave face and job hunted while he went to work every day. We were both pretty miserable and it was definitely a low for us. I blamed myself for moving us here and our unhappiness, but we honestly couldn’t go back. There were no jobs where we were and Jesse liked his. That was a silver lining. I would job hunt like crazy, go on interviews daily, but anytime I wasn’t doing that, I was back to sleeping and eating and pretending to be happy when I was awake (luckily I kicked the drinking). So what were my posts like during this weird limbo period? Oh they were the exact opposite of my real feelings. A bunch of pics of me eating Portland food and living my best life in the big city. Ooo the ocean! Ooo bridges! Ooo cheese factories!

Sometimes the truth soaked through and I let people see a bit of what I was feeling (see below), but I never really just came out and said it. I AM DEPRESSED. I REGRET MOVING HERE. I SPEND ALL DAY IN THE DARK SLEEPING OR WATCHING TV WISHING I COULD TAKE BACK THE LAST THREE MONTHS.

I’m grateful we moved here though. I really love Portland (it’s been six years!) and I’m so happy we came here for several reasons. One of them being that I got to know my niece really well, who was just a newborn when I first came. She’s been such a joy in my life and I’m so grateful I got the opportunity to watch her grow up.

I’m going to stop here in late 2013 and pick up next week right here as I talk though the photos I was posting after this time in my life. Mostly because it’s really career and job focused and I wanted to talk about social media and photos we post in relation to money and careers. I’ll be sharing what I posted during the few shit jobs that followed this period all the way up until now. Sometimes I was honest…sometimes I wasn’t.

I want to wrap up honest photos on week four with some truths about motherhood and pregnancy. I am not a mother and I have not been pregnant, but the book I’m reading on Social Media had a really wonderful chapter on this that spoke to me as a woman and I wanted to share. Also, I know a lot of you reading this are pregnant or have kids and I think what I read was really important and I want to share it with you all.

Let me know in the comments about your social media untruths. Was there a time you made a big life decision and made it look MUCH cooler than it actually was? Until next week.

PUSH UP UPDATE: I didn’t want to share this with you all because I was embarrassed, but in the realm of honesty I have found myself in this month….I had to stop push ups this week because I hurt myself. This isn’t as embarrassing as showing you that clip from my LiveJournal, but still I’m not very pleased with myself. Sad to say I probably should have started with wall push ups instead of knee push ups. I’m recovering now from a pinched nerve in my shoulder and an aggravation of my mild carpal tunnel (yay office life) in my wrists because of the work I’ve done so far. I didn’t want to stop making progress (because I really was), but I also was warned from a friend to take my push ups easy because if you push your body too hard when it’s not ready you could end up doing some real lasting damage. So I listened to them and to my body and stopped. I’m hoping to pick back up with wall push ups next week once I feel I’ve fully recovered. I’m committed to doing 100 real push ups in a row without stopping by the end of the year. I just have to take a bit of a detour. Any advice if you’re an exercise person IS welcome.