Friend or foe, and success

I Was Caroline Calloway

This story has been the talk on the internet over the past three days and I, too, am fascinated by it. (For one, it is a real life version of My Year of Rest and Relaxation.) It feels very personal and you definitely identify with either Caroline or Natalie. I want to say most people will identify with Natalie, just because so few people get to be Caroline. There have been many stories written from Caroline’s point of view, because after all, they tend to be the protagonists in life. The fact that Natalie got to tell her story was really different. I also loved that it was such an honest look at the history between two women. Yes, men definitely have a part in the dynamic between them (making them into the archetypes of the desired vs. undesirable), but it ultimately is about the relationship between women.

I’ve felt that this kind of story was missing from feminist discussions! I’m a strong believer that a woman’s best ally is another woman, before men ever enter the picture. (Men are kind of a distraction. Feminism should not be centered on women in relation to men… but that is another long post!)

Anyway, so much can be said about this story. I love that it resonated with so many people and it’s one of those rare stories that actually strikes an emotional chord. If you’ve ever been a woman, you know you can’t make that stuff up.

Metrics of Success

Oh my gosh, this is so validating to me as an unemployed person and someone who has failed from a career T_____T. The biggest thing is not to see this failure as my personal failure and all that I am.

The myth of meritocracy tells us that some people have “better” jobs than others because of their behavior alone, and not due to any societal factors or institutional biases. That is: obedient, hardworking individuals get the best jobs.

One frustrating thing I’ve realized this year as I’m applying for entry level jobs is that I feel EXACTLY like that employers are asking for–hardworking, responsible, and organized–so it’s EXTRA frustrating to not get any leads. I know I am not alone in this feeling. You could do everything right in this job market, and still not come out on top simply because there are soooo many qualified and smart people out there.

Work can be fulfilling and character-building. But it is not the only way to become an adult, to grow, to become your whole self.

This was the other part that really resonated with me. A custodian at my first school had actually told me that the hardships I was facing as a teacher “builds character.” At the time, I could only listen and accept it. I guess that’s *one* good thing out of this terrible time I am having? It’s building character? Things did not get better, and I ended up having to give myself a pep talk everyday. I realized that I did not want work to be the thing that builds my character. I want to become my whole self not through workplace bullying, but through failure, experimentation, and as corny as it sounds, what makes my heart sing. I don’t feel proud about the awful things that happen to me. I would never tell a victim that what happened to them “builds character,” as if they should be glad it happened or is even helpful??

When I think about the most formative moments of my childhood and teen years, they had nothing to do with the career I did not yet have, or grades I was or wasn’t getting.

This part also stood out to me because the most formative moments in my life (it’s literally in my Notes, year by year) have little to do with my career. My job got me to the place I needed to be, but it was what I chose to do that formed my worldview and the people I met that shaped who I am, and what kind of person I now aspire to be.

If I was asked what kind of person I would like to be when I grew up, rather than what job I would like to have, I would have thought about my identity, existence, and behavior beyond a career.

This is the exact thing I am asking myself right now. Without a job, what AM I? What am I worth, and in what ways am I valuable? I think this is the real question of adulthood and the real work is coming to an answer you feel good and solid about. ❤️

 

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