I think we can all agree a new job, a promotion and a cross-country move count as big milestones, right? Well, I think 2018 held about a million of those, and in between losing jobs and apartments, I may have gained some knowledge that I think is worth sharing.
I worked a lot in 2018, like a lot a lot. Throughout the course of the year, I held about six different positions, sometimes working as many as four different part-time jobs at a time. The funny thing is, I don’t think I was fully qualified for any of them. When I became a dog walker, I failed the leash test the first time around (yes there is such thing as a leash test.) When I walked into my first campaign office, with nothing but a knack for telling stories and a deep belief in the person I was working for, I barely knew how to start a project on the software I was given. I was first and foremost a writer, little did I know the writing I was expecting would come much later. Even my short soundbites and mirrored messaging were getting turned away, and I felt unqualified in every sense of the word. However, in being unqualified I found new ways to use narrative. I realized my job was so much more about connecting with people, displaying their words in a way that truly represented them and elicited further response, than it was about writing any of my own words.
When I walked into my first state office several months later, I had learned the fancy design software and was presumably still a good writer. At least that’s what I thought until it took me almost an hour to write my first press release. This was supposed to be the thing I was good at, and yet there I was, . I mirrored the words until they became my own as I had done so many times before. I stayed late, took on project after project even if I wasn’t sure they were going anywhere. I may have fibbed a little bit at both interviews, said I was trained in software I only barely knew, stretched my class essays into exciting policy research, but I still got promoted at both jobs by the end.
I’ve had to beg for jobs and flounder around at job interviews, all that to say that maybe being a little under-qualified isn’t always a bad thing. It pushed me to approach things from different angles, to teach myself the skills I thought everyone else already had. Somewhere in the tug of war between what I knew and didn’t, between my own perceived strengths and weaknesses, between the sheer excitement and the hidden fear of being turned away, I came out stronger. I walked away with some nice additions to my portfolio and the knowledge that I had gone farther than the job description ever asked me too. Being under-qualified also taught me not to be as afraid in the upcoming year. Because I will take on many new roles as the years go on and realistically I may be under-qualified for all of them, but that’s never stopped me before. Whatever the uncertain may be, and how under-qualified I may be, it’s nothing I haven’t done before
I also moved a lot in 2018, three times to be exact, and by the end of 2019, I expect to have moved seven times in two years. Last summer, while nursing the biggest hangover of my life, I threw all of my belongings into paper bags and moved out of my college dorm and into a sublet for the summer. The move could not have gone more horribly wrong and for three months I lived in an apartment that was crumbling apart with all of my things still shoved into paper bags and scattered around a room that wasn’t even fully mine.
At the end of the summer, I moved back to the dorms and relished at the idea that I wouldn’t have to move for another full year. I had my own room in a suite I was sharing with some of my closest friends, I had a great view and impeccable decorations, I was finally home. Little did I know that in just about a month I would receive a job offer that would turn my world upside down and send me packing yet again. I had barely put up my Christmas lights when I had to take them down again and start packing. I moved out of the dorms once again, this time sans hangover and with an upgrade to cardboard boxes.
There is nothing more exhausting than packing, and nothing more nostalgic than seeing the room you had come to call home as a blank canvas yet again, littered with cardboard boxes. All the pictures I had put up, the little trinkets from the Primark down the street, the memories I had tried so earnestly to capture had been ripped off the walls again and tucked into a manila envelope for safekeeping. Moving over and over again taught me that things will never go according to plan, which for a whimsical dreamer and a serial scheduler is hard to come to terms with. However, each move brought something better and I slowly learned to grip my planner and pen a little less tightly.
Moving also proved to me I was more capable than I ever imagined, mostly because each time I had to do everything myself. I am a small girl, of merely nineteen years, and standing at a staggering 4 feet and ten inches, meaning most of my boxes were taller than me. How I managed to stuff everything I own into an UberXL and carry it up several sets of stairs (twice), I’ll never know but it happened. The act of moving itself taught me more about independence and my own boundaries than I think living alone did.
It is because of these lessons and these unexpected experiences that 2018 may just be my favorite year yet, leaving me wondering what comes next. I’ve never been good at not knowing, but whatever the future holds there’s a high probability I won’t be fully qualified for it and totally surprised by it, nothing I haven’t done before.