“What did you do today?”
I cried like a druggie in rehab pleading with God and my dead father to help me. Also, I slept. Tried to sleep. To ignore. To escape. Between sleeping and crying, I tried to be normal.
“Nothing much, I ran some errands,” I replied on a Saturday night out at the bar, trying to be normal. Going out with friends for the first time in a long time. Friends that were good enough to forget that I ignored them for the past eight months. Because that’s what happens when I’m in a relationship.
Everyone likes me better when I’m single. If you lined up the town and asked them to raise their hands when they saw a cool person, and then presented Me, In a Relationship and Me, Single, the hands would most assuredly go up the second round, and I would raise my hand in line with the rest. I’m not good in a relationship. Perhaps because I don’t think I am, and perhaps because it never really mattered before now. Because when you date assholes, you can be a bitch right back. So dating a good guy is a complete shock in terms of how to act and how to behave and how to live.
So of course you push this cool person down the same worn-in path as before, and as you go, you look around and know that the two of you don’t belong there.
And I am angry that the Universe could present me with such a being when I’m not primed. I’m not prepared.
It’s not that I don’t feel worthy, exactly. But that I never saw myself with someone so all-American, so normal, so right. Because my life was messed up the moment my father died, and surely God doesn’t think I’m ready for a life that isn’t messed up. Surely, I should keep punishing myself. I am not ready for such greatness. Surely, I am not ready to lead a normal life yet, with barbeques and endless cuddling and television. Life is jaded. Always and forever. This will never heal.
Being single, it doesn’t matter. But being in a relationship – the good kind, at least – brings all this other responsibility. And I don’t really care for all that. To care about someone so deeply and they just might up and leave, or want you, or die, or get sick, or let you down, or need you, or care about you back. I get anxious. So anxious I can’t breathe.
Okay, so I have issues. The kind that should be capitalized and underlined, and you should take note of it.
But I’m working on that, and back to Saturday night, I declared that it was the beginning of “New Rebecca!” exclamation point, let’s take another shot, done and done. I was fabulous. I smiled and was totally level-headed and ingratiated myself back to the good side of the Universe through two hipster bars, three slices of bacon, spinach and yellow-tomato pizza, and a pair of four-inch heels. Cue the soundtrack as the shot pans up and fades out. Walk out of the theater with a happy ending. It was fun and I laughed.
Sunday morning, I got up and cleaned the wine bottles from the counter, threw away someone else’s cigarettes, and vacuumed the dirt from the corner. And somewhere in between, I found a little bit of normal.
I changed my design blog, modite / character, to be my personal blog. That’s all I really wanted to do anyway.
I also changed the url from modite.com/design to modite.com/character. Please update your bookmarks, and if you were subscribed before, you will need to re-subscribe. Sorry for the inconvenience.
If you just want the original modite / career and life advice you’re still in the right place and don’t need to make any changes.
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AGREE: I sometimes think that HR people are the least qualified to give career advice, via @lruettimann (see comments)
AGREE: You have a good thing. Then it turns into a rut. Then you go through a transition. Then you find another good thing. Lifehacker was a great thing. Then it turned into a bit of a rut, @ginatrapani
Then I get stuck. Interminably stuck. Because I’m really excited and pumped to work, but for what? I’m a lucky person, but I wonder is this it? Really? Because I thought there might be more.
Marcus Buckingham of the Wall Street Journal gets it. “This is a deeply anxious and insecure generation,” he argues. “On the surface they look self-confident, [but] deep down they know that they don’t actually know what it takes to win.”
Apparently it’s going to take a decade of wandering for us to figure it out. New York Times columnist David Brooks describes this new Generation Y life stage as the Odyssey Years – a decade of exploration and experimentation (via Tammy Erickson).
“During this decade, 20-somethings go to school and take breaks from school,” Brooks reports. “They live with friends and they live at home. They fall in and out of love. They try one career and then try another.”
And all this unbridled choice has us delaying marriage, children, and permanent employment – accomplishments that have traditionally defined adulthood. Not for Gen Y though. Brooks reports that fewer than 40 percent of 30-year olds have achieved these things versus 70 percent forty years ago.
The consequences of our aimless wandering delay adulthood, but also our chance at genuine happiness. Generation Y’s passion is defined by our idealism, not our pragmatism. So while it may seem like we’re enjoying our freedom, research shows that we’d be a lot better off with more structure, less choice, and working through problems instead of moving on to our next big adventure.
We need more accountability. We need restrictions. Because passion needs direction. It needs filters, and red tape, and four walls. Passion needs to be challenged to be passion at all.
This is the fascinating juxtaposition that is Gen Y. We crave structure, efficiency and effectiveness, and yet, we “have a huge willingness to believe in a grand vision of things — both [in ourselves] and the world,” Buckingham reports.
But grand vision makes it dangerously easy to be underwhelmed at the banality of everyday life. Too much choice keeps us reaching and searching and never doing anything at all.
“When our ambition is bounded it leads us to work joyfully,” happiness expert Daniel Gilbert reports. So Generation Y can keep wandering. Or we can open a door and see what happens when dreams hit reality.
A lot of bloggers are more proficient in words than in person, so it’s not surprising that many haven’t taken the leap to video blogging. But they should. Video posts provide a great, unique way to connect with your readership. I’m still learning, but here are six tips that helped me get started:
1. Watch a lot of videos.
Write down what you find appealing and what you don’t like. I tend to like short videos with lots of personality. Pay attention to the video content, length, and the format.
Check out these places to start: Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine, Marketing), Ill Doctrine (Hip-Hop, Political), Startup Lucky (Entrepreneurship), Design for Mankind’s Dialogue (Art/Design), Momversation (Lifestyle & Mom Blogging), Brazen Careerist (Contest Announcements), Sam Davidson (Social Change & Motivation), and Shama TV (New Media Marketing).
There are many more out there, so feel free to share your own favorites in the comments as well.
2. Stop procrastinating on the technical stuff.
A big barrier is researching the right methods to use. Like, what camera should I buy? How do I transfer video to computer? What program do I use to edit with? What site do I upload it to? How do I embed it?
But these things are remarkably easy. Just trust me on this. If you can use blogging software to write, you can use a video camera to talk. I use a Flip Mino, Windows Movie Maker and Vimeo. You don’t need anything more to start. Even big media companies like Momversation have their contributors use Flip cameras. Fancy schmancy is out.
3. Create relevant content.
Video and written content is not the same. The content you present on video should be a better fit than if you wrote about it. Videos make it easier to be self-involved, so ask yourself, are viewers gaining value from watching?
I generally use videos to clarify or expand on previous posts, instead of presenting new information. This is because the medium is so different from writing that it’s sometimes difficult to present big ideas concisely.
Another good way to use video might be to start dialogue with your readers. Present a quick problem and ask your readers for input on the solution. Or use video to respond to comments in a more personal manner.
Whatever you do, make sure that your videos are good enough to stand on their own, whether they’re complementing the rest of your blog or are the main spotlight on your video-only blog.
4. You still have to write.
Your video should have a point if you want viewers to watch the whole thing. While a conversational tone is great, it’s good to either:
a) Write down two to three bullet points that you want to cover, and/or
b) Write your entire spiel out as if it were a speech
Don’t just ramble. I tend to jot down what I want to say (a page worth is usually one to two minutes in length), and then highlight the key points I want to remember. And okay, sometimes I just practice what I want to convey in the shower. Spontaneity is good too.
5. Practice in front of the camera.
Pay specific attention to your body language and how you present yourself. Video is, after all, a visual experience and viewers want to watch someone who is both authentic and engaging.
Take up space with your arms to project confidence (good for speeches as well), or frame the shot close to your face for a more intimate conversation. Emphasize your points and exaggerate your personality with your facial expressions for an energetic video, or keep your movements tight and slow if you’re trying to show authority.
Watch yourself, experiment and then re-record until you’re happy with the result. You don’t have anything to lose. No one is watching yet.
6. Post a video that’s not perfect.
Don’t worry about getting it right your first video. It will probably be too long, you’ll look like a huge dork, and the guys building a hotel next door will probably take the exact moment you’re recording to use their jackhammer. Whatever.
So if you’re being a curmudgeon, stop it. The recession is a great time to advance your career. It’s a myth that there aren’t any jobs. Here are three places to discover your next position:
1) Companies that save consumers money.
“While most big retail chains are closing stores and radically cutting back on new outlets, the dollar chains are planning to open hundreds of stores this year,” reports the New York Times. Dollar stores are out-performing even the Wal-Mart giant.
Not only are these once-shifty chains grabbing up market-share, but they’re now considered hot. Not just for the prices, but because consumers are discovering their service is better.
Consumers opt for value and family time over shopping in a recession, so personal attention and conveniences like an easily-accessible staff, less-crowded aisles and traversable parking is tracking with the consumer’s re-discovered values.
The online coupon distributor Coupons.com is also rapidly expanding for similar reasons. Just look at their jobs page; they have twenty-nine open positions in engineering, finance, HR, sales, marketing, and operations. And my own company Alice.com has hired three additional employees since I began work in January.
Saving money, value and convenience are hot commodities during a recession, and these companies will need your help satisfying the consumer’s appetite.
2) Start-up companies that disrupt markets.
Start-up companies like Alice thrive during a recession not only because we will provide value to the consumer, but also because we will disrupt the traditional retail market.
Other start-ups with disruptive business models are poised to take a strong foot-hold as well, like Hulu. In a recent video interview, CEO Jason Kilar reported that Hulu is ahead of their revenue plan for 2009 and they have ten advertised jobs available.
Indeed, Business Week’s Mike Mandel cites evidence that 80% of the top-ten Fortune 500 companies were started during a recession. Recessions have historically weeded out bad ideas and enlivened entrepreneurship, all of which comes together in a perfect storm for job-seekers, innovators and new thinkers.
3) Public sector jobs that solve problems.
The shift in talent to disruptive markets and new growth industries (like green, tech and health care) will have a lasting effect on the nation and the economy.
Especially since traditional careers like law, journalism and finance are all suffering from an identity crisis drastically altering career paths towards public-sector jobs including positions in non-profits, cities, counties, states and other government agencies.
“New career directions are tethered less to the dream of an immediate six-figure paycheck on Wall Street and more to the demands of a new public agenda to solve the nation’s problems,” New York Times columnist Steve Lohr argues.
And those do-gooder jobs tend to be fairly recession-proof. The top ten cities for job growth in 2009 as reported by Forbes all benefited from plentiful government jobs.
Topping the list for job growth is Madison, Wisconsin, the city I call home. A spokeswoman for the city’s chamber of commerce claimed that Madison is “historically recession proof,” in part because the city is the seat of city, state and county governments, and they all provide jobs.
The tie that binds these three opportunities for job-seekers – smart retailers, disruptive start-ups and the public sector – is the emergence of meaningful work in the face of complex problems.
What do you think? Have you had trouble finding a job in the recession? What industries have you seen luck and growth in, and which have been more difficult? What companies are poised to hire the next generation of talent?