The dirty, smelly, adorable one 🐶
After I quit my high-strung, bedbug-ridden job as a residential counselor, I took up part-time work at an animal hospital. Why an animal hospital? I think you mean, why the heck not?! I still wanted to help someone, anyone, and the doggos were calling my name. Woof.
There were basically three types of employees at the clinic - administration, vet technicians, and kennel assistants. The kennel assistants were usually ending high school or starting college, and had dreams of becoming vet techs or veterinarians themselves.
So I swoop in, with my 23-year-old self, proclaiming my love of animals and dreams of one day opening a shelter. I think they were kind of confused, like what is this girl even doing here?
I just love animals, ok?
Let's just say I was expecting a lot of this ➡️
I did get a bit of that - with the doggie daycare, I spent some time with some of the cutest pups I've ever seen. I stand by that to this day.
What I wasn't as prepared for was all of that
Not everything was a puppy heaven. I spent a lot of my time assisting the vet and vet techs with examinations, X-Rays, vaccinations, and sadly, euthanasia. I got to experience a variety of animals that I would never have interacted with otherwise: boa constrictors, hedgehogs, parakeets to name a few.
It definitely wasn't as demanding or stressful as my previous work, but it was novel, and from novelty springs the procurement of education 🤓
Despite the copious amounts of 💩 I was responsible for cleaning up, being a kennel assistant was pretty awesome (partly because I knew it was so temporary). I ended up staying for several months and really only quit because I moved back to my hometown. More like, back in with my parents. But that's a story for another time.
I've always wanted to help people.
When I graduated college, I figured that I should get some experience with the "in person" side of psychology. See, when I was studying, I was mostly involved in data, research, and statistics - the "behind-the-scenes" of creating studies to learn about human behavior. Psychology is a huge field, and I thought I could benefit from experiencing various subcategories within that realm.
Enter my first full-time job as a residential counselor at a psychiatric residential treatment facility (PRTF, if you want to know the jargon).
Translation? Keep teens and pre-teens safe and entertained so that they can follow an agenda designed to get them out of institutions and back into "the real world".
They were already receiving an education and therapy within the walls of this facility - all we had to do was make sure they didn't hurt themselves or anyone else during or in between these activities.
I was barely older than some of these kids, and I was expected to be in charge of them 😅 Well, if you've ever met me, I'm not exactly cut out for bossing people around (which, ironically, I would be very successful at at my next job). I wasn't maternal enough to be a tough Mama-bear figure, like one of my coworkers who was very successful at connecting with the kids without falling for their mischievous ways. Nor was I an example of a strong man with a healthy view on masculinity to be a role model to the boys.
Yet, somehow, one day (during training, mind you), I found myself alone on a unit of boys who were always one step away from an inappropriate comment (on a good day) or beating someone up (on a bad day). I kept my cool, assumed I'd just have to fake it till I make it, and miraculously they respected me.
That didn't change the fact that I was on guard for a solid half year.
It's incredibly stressful to be on guard all the time. It's mentally and physically exhausting to be ready for a verbal or physical attack at any given moment. While my nerves were running high, I quickly learned quite a lot.
Other than the lasting bed bug anxiety that still wakes me up in the middle of the night, I'm grateful to have worked in a psychiatric facility. I was lucky to work with an amazing team of people who always rushed to your side when you needed it. Nothing brings a team together like the potential for danger. We had each other's backs. Ultimately, I wasn't happy with how I wasn't able to really help or make any difference.
So I started my yoga training. But I'm getting ahead of myself - I didn't teach for another year after that. We're still missing a few stories and many, many lessons 😉
The romantic one.
Or so it would seem.
When I was little, there was a Borders* around the corner from my neighborhood. I loved spending time there - the fonts of titles and the smell of ink on paper was intoxicating. My little self wanted to work there.
What could be better than being around books all day? Somehow I thought this inherently meant that I could read everything. (Spoiler alert: I had absolutely no time to read anything as I was a full-time student.)
By the time I had enough time on my hands to get a job (I was a busy kid, ok?), Borders had closed down. So I went to the next closest, biggest, baddest book retailer (there were no independent bookshops in my town), and proudly started working as... a cashier.
During the holiday season.
If you've ever worked in retail, God bless your heart. I cried in public twice. I can't even remember the details, but it was a classic case of customers verbally taking out their unresolved emotions on to someone who is just trying to do their job.
Anyway, I promised you the lessons I learned from being a bookseller. Because, yes, after the holiday season they kept me on and trained me to be on the floor. Booyah.
I met some really cool people there (customers too!), and it is pretty awesome to be around books all day. Eventually I decided I was more into the books than the people I was supposed to be selling them to, so it was bye-bye for me.
Would I do it again? Probably if I could find a little bookshop. Quaint and cute and a little more romantic - the kind with lots of nooks and crannies where the shelves are overflowing and the people are passionate about the fonts of the titles. Let me know if you find one.
*For those of you not from the U.S. or born within the last decade, Borders was a HUGE books and music retailer that went kaput in 2009.
Let's play of game of 3 questions.
What are the three questions that someone asks you when you first meet? I'll give you a moment. Oh. You already got it? I can bet we have the same answers. Scroll down to see.
I grew up in the U.S. so I'm curious if we're on the same wavelength here (feel free to comment your own answers 🤓).
The problem with these questions (namely the third one) is that we immediately value each other based on our preconceptions of the input and output of the job (what you have to do at your job and how much you get paid for it). I won't go into specifics on the social psychology of this question - you can read more about that from The Minimalists.
Instead, I want to ask you if you've ever felt ashamed of your job. Have you ever dreaded that question? Steered clear of the subject before it was asked? Felt nervous that someone will judge you for the way you earn your living?
I have. A lot. Like all the time. At face value, I figured this was silly because I've always felt that someone else's occupation is not an accurate representation of their talents and abilities. Upon a deeper analysis, I realized I was actually ashamed of myself. I was able to find everyone else's jobs interesting and valuable to some degree, but I thought that my own job was underwhelming and pitiful.
Well, I have a new mantra to celebrate myself, and I want to share my stories with you. Here's a sneak peek of some occupations I've held and will be dishing my little scoop on:
These are just a small selection 😂 And yet, no matter how trivial or un-fancy they may sound, all of the jobs I've had have taught me something useful.
Say it with me: no more job shame!
See for the first one very, very soon 📚
P.S. If you're feeling or have felt job shame before, I'm curious to hear about your experience, too!