Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Real World

Hi there! Remember me? Well, even if you don’t – I’m back. Nice to see you.

I know I’ve been gone awhile – and I apologize. I’d like to say that I was too busy … off living some wild and crazy adventure that I can tell you about … but that’s not really true. I’ve been busy, yes. I’ve been having lots of fun, yes. But too busy to write? Never.

Actually, the problem is that I haven’t really known what to write about – I mean, without sounding smug. The truth is – life is pretty perfect right now (and now just saying that makes me want to track down a large piece of lumber and knock on it profusely). And if I’ve learned anything from books, tv, movies and living a life that’s full of well-adjusted, normal, drama-free relationships – going on and on about how terrific things are just isn’t that interesting. You people want mayhem, serial killers, giant spiders, betrayal in the name of winning cash prizes – the works. And, I’m sorry, I just can’t offer you that right now. There’s no Puck to mess up my Real World. No Omarosa trying to be my Apprentice.

My marriage – fantastic. The house – still hasn’t caved in on me. Social life – fun as always. Travel plans – looking bright. Work – well, at the risk of sounding far too chipper for someone who works for “the man” as a cog in the giant corporate machine, work is going really well. I mean, not saving the world, ending pollution and curing cancer good, but downright decent nonetheless.

Actually, if I look back on my life thus far (call it a mid-30s crisis), it’s work, sadly, that is the thing I’ve done most right overall. Okay, sure, I could have done better. Certainly if I could turn back time I might be at least a little tempted to choose a field that pulls down enough annually for me to have my own yacht or own a football franchise – something like that (those jobs exist, right?) But in the realm of oh-so-right life choices I’ve made, my career is sitting pretty high on that list. What I mean is this – I’ve changed a lot since I was 18. I’m not dating the same guy, living in the same state, sporting the same style haircut, wardrobe (except I am still rockin’ the Chucks – that’s never going to change), eating habits, decorating style, hobbies, drinking watery beer from a keg or, with a few exceptions, hanging with the same friends as I was in 1995. And yet, as a freshman in college, I was somehow (miraculously) able to select a course of study that I would still enjoy as a career choice 17 years later.

And honestly, that is pretty freakin’ amazing. I mean (and those of you who know me even slightly can back me up on this point), I pretty much hate everything. I like to think I’m objective, but let’s be real – I’m critical. And I’m fickle as Hell. But somehow I managed to get this one thing right – and it hasn’t changed.

I read some statistic (which I could look up now but why bother) about how many career changes people tend to have in their lifetime and it was something like (and I would know for sure if I bothered to look it up now) 5 … or maybe it was 7 … but, in any case, I’m not surprised. How can you know what you want to do with your life at age 18? You haven’t worked in the “real world” yet. All you can do is make an educated guess and hope for the best. I just got lucky in my guess (despite making many, many other poor life choices along the way).

There’s got to be a better way of making this important decision though. I remember taking a career aptitude test in high school – a series of questions aimed at determining what fields you’d be best suited for. And I even remember my results:
1.       Stunt artist
2.       Judge
3.       Social worker

Ignoring the fact that I am horribly clumsy and, quite honestly, a giant chicken, and these results nailed my 10th grade self right on the head. Back then I was someone who was obsessed with doing right in the world … helping people … upholding the highest standards for all people … and was fairly certain that I was, above all else, completely invincible in every way.

But that was before I was all knowledgeable about how the world works and realized that – fuck it – life isn’t fair so every (wo)man for herself! And perhaps that’s what drew me into the seedy, corrupt world of Advertising. (Okay, so maybe I work for a totally wholesome, family-friendly company and it’s nothing like Mad Men and I’ve never stabbed anyone in the back in my slow but steady climb to nowhere near the top, but stay with me here, will ya?) So what about now? If I were to take one of these career aptitude tests now, in the real world, when I actually do have an idea what I should be doing for a living, I bet it would totally get it right – right?

And so I did. And I thought long and hard about how to honestly answer each and every one of the 485 questions put before me. In the end I think I painted a pretty accurate picture of modern-day, no longer in high school, me.

As for the results? Well, they got off to a decent start by telling me my biggest strengths and weaknesses. Turns out that my biggest asset (according to the test) is that I’m “gregarious,” which I’m not so sure is really a good thing at all. But if we’re throwing out nice sounding words to define me honestly, I suppose that’s a pretty polite way to describe what I am. So, hey, I’m an overly honest, loud-mouthed jerk – I get it. But at least I’m a self aware overly honest, loud-mouthed jerk … maybe that should be my biggest strength. My weakest areas? Understanding and sympathy. Take that 10th grade me – I totally kicked your ass completely to the curb!

Next the results went over all my traits and the types of jobs that go best with gregarious, unsympathetic “leaders” (yes, leadership rated really high for me too – I can only assume the test maker actually meant that I was “bossy” since none of the other “favorable” traits I was given were even remotely nice in any way) like me I was sure I had this in the bag. Marketing, Advertising, Sales, Writing, Communication – all of these fields were at the very top of what expressive, free thinking (these are the words I’ve chosen for myself, obviously, not ones picked by those tight-ass, narrow-minded, prim and proper test makers) people with my skill base are good at. But then I clicked through to my very own, personalized just for me career list, and it said …

We have compiled based on your personality profile the top 3 jobs most suited to you:
   1. Accountant or auditor
   2. Loan officer
   3. Aerospace engineer

What the fuck is this shit? Your greatest skill is socializing – you should work with numbers! Clearly this test was made by an angry, spiteful introvert who wants to lock up all the extroverts in some cubical (okay technically I am already holed up in a cubical of sorts – but somehow I picture the office of a loan officer being significantly more oppressive than the bland, gray walled cube I currently call my own), crunching number and battling spreadsheets until we wither away or, more likely, hurl ourselves out the window of the 50-story high rise we work in at Gambitt, Smith & McGillicuty, Esq.

Now don’t get me wrong – I can balance my checkbook to the penny, and I would never (knowingly) cheat on my taxes, but clearly I am a woman with a passion for words, not numbers, and I just don’t see how any of these careers relate to my – what was it? – gregarious nature. Which makes me wonder if perhaps this test maker is simply another example of someone who made the wrong career choice when he was 18. I mean, CLEARLY, this isn’t what he’s good at.

So for now I’ll just keep with my excellent (at the current moment) life choices. Because, let’s face it, I spent a long time getting to this level of perfection. And if you’re not quite as happy with your youthful choices – never fear. Unlike that butterfly tramp stamp, the DUI you have on your record after the “Boones Farm” incident of ’93 and that wicked scar on your forehead from when you attempted to dive into your pool from your roof during your sophomore house party, these are things you CAN change.

And here’s to hoping I continue to evolve. After all, when I was 18, Mel Gibson was the sexiest man alive, “Ace Ventura II” was the most hilarious movie ever, Roseanne was doling out television parenting wisdom and the waistband of my jorts actually sat firmly on my waist.

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