About a year and a half ago, I was in the middle of my very very famous Nightmare Jobhunt of 2004-2006. I was working the same retail job I had been at since my first year of college, going on interviews whenever I wasn't at the bookstore, and becoming extremely frustrated.
One Sunday morning, I sat down to do one of my favorite pasttimes ever...
Make fun of the couples in the New York Times wedding announcements. I'm not making fun of them for being rich or having Ivy League educations...they are just sometimes really really funny. Seriously. Try it some time.
I came across a familiar name, and recognized the bride in one announcement as Karmine Alers, who was in the Broadway company of Rent for several years. I loved Rent, and felt a special kinship to Karmine ever since that day I was working with Students, Live and a girl came up to me after the workshop and performance to say, "You were really good!"
(Because ALL petite girls with curly hair look alike, don't they?)
I actually clipped out Karmine's wedding announcement and highlighted a part of it, and promised to think like her...
And by googling "Karmine Alers New York Times wedding announcements", I was able to find the exact quote I am talking about...
Unable to pay the rent on her basement studio, she moved back to her parents' apartment. When growing up there, she and her two sisters had sewn matching skirts with fabric her father brought home from his job as a cutter in the garment district. In them they sang backup while he belted out his favorite oldie, "The Great Pretender."
Ms. Alers decided she, too, could be a great pretender. "I said, 'I'm going to pretend that I'm happy and my life is good and singing in a wedding band is everything I ever wanted," she remembered.
After that her luck changed. Tenacious as Madonna, her idol, she auditioned 15 times to step into the starring role of Mimi in "Rent," the Broadway musical, which opened in 1996. She went onstage in January 2001.
After I read that, I told myself that I was going to do the same thing as she did, and tell myself that Barnes and Noble was the GREATEST place in the world to work, and that there was nothing I wanted more than to scan books and clean up after 3:00AM Harry Potter parties and deal with kids asking for SparkNotes for Judy Blume books because they are too freaking lazy to read something on a 4th grade reading level.
My friend Mike from the bookstore was also frustrated with his current working situation. I let him in on my great secret of how I was going to change my whole life by thinking positively. He told me, "But what if you really DO convince yourself that you love it here and you never, ever leave Barnes and Noble?"
I thought about that for a second.
And worried that he might be correct.
It became a joke between us at work. I'd go, "So, how are you doing?" and Mike would reply by putting on a huge grin and saying, "AMAZING! Because right now, I'm going to take THIS stack of books...AND PUT THEM ON A TABLE OVER THERE!"
It did make things a big brighter.
I started a new job last week, and tomorrow is my first Monday. Although the environment seems very nice and the people warm and lovely, I am going to keep Karmine's story close to heart in case I ever become frustrated again. I am going to go in every day and do my best. This position is not the greatest of careers, and I still have no idea what I am going to end up doing with my degree or, for that matter, my LIFE.
When I was in the 6th grade, we had to make "future books." We had to pretend we were thirty-five. We had to cut out pictures of houses, husbands, children and dogs, discuss where we went to college and what our daily lives were like. Looking back, I think that was a really pointless assignment, and I would love to go back and tell little 12-year-old Diana that you can't plan your life out like that and nothing is ever going to turn out the way you think it will.
Heck, if I was following my Future Book Life, I would be married with one of my four children by now! Not to mention, I'd have already written several bestselling novels!
I am okay, though. I am going to keep reminding myself that I am exactly where I am supposed to be "right now" and things usually have a miraculous way of falling into place.
This whole Quarterlife Crisis thing is FUN.