A Grown-Up Job
$13/hr. One week vacation the first year. Overtime expected. Looking for a go-getter with a can-do attitude, 5+ years of experience. Send us resume and cover letter explaining what makes you stand out from the crowd.
What is it with employers these days? I think to myself as I scroll through the 5th job board of the day. I spend most days jumping through elaborate hoops, with a folder of 12 different resumes, 12 cover letters, 2 portfolios, 5 salary histories and 1 list of references, only to not hear back from 99.99% of places I contact. I keep a spreadsheet of every place and position for which I apply, so I know my math is accurate.
It’s hard not to break down and cry around mid-morning, but there are days I manage not to.
– – –
When I walk by the large, sober instrument in my living room, it feels like a relic from another life. Sometimes I open the cover and blast off a few songs, and it renews my faith that there are still things worth living for in this world.
Every so often I’ll hear a familiar melody, and the sound will take me back to my swivel office chair, pulled up next to the piano on the left-hand side. Listening. Watching. Sometimes correcting. Sometimes demonstrating.
The folks at my very first office job kept wanting me to work more hours with them, but I resisted. I earned twice as much teaching piano lessons, and I didn’t have to deal with paperwork or my eyes glazing over from boredom doing it. Eventually, wooed by the idea of stability, possible benefits and the fear of losing a great portion of my income if I didn’t make myself more available, I dropped a few students, certain I was making the “grown-up” decision.
When the company let me go a month later (“budget cuts” I believe was the line fed to me), I seethed: at them, at myself. Building clientele for piano lessons wasn’t easy, and this was the first of many business decisions I later regretted.
Sure, some days the students frustrated me to the brink of wanting to stab myself in the eye with my black pen. Why couldn’t they just get that there wasn’t supposed to be a rest on the third beat of that measure? or the ever pertinent Shit, they didn’t practice again! There were days when I’d go home humming a fandango, or worse, a student would squeeze in a few bars of Heart and Soul and that earworm would chip away at my brian for the better part of an hour.
But then there were moments when a student would play a Viennese waltz with as much precision as I could. When they would look up at me with a 100-Watt grin and a missing front tooth. The hundreds of thousands of times they respectfully called me “Miss Natalie.” The immense swelling of my heart after a recital, when I reflected – totally baffled – that every single one of those students got up and played a song on the piano in front of an audience because of me.
“Are you studying music?” some parents would ask me, when I mentioned a change in class schedule.
“No,” I said, aware of how strange it must have sounded. What music teacher doesn’t study music in college? But I wasn’t really a music teacher. This was merely a stopover on the way to my “grown-up” career.
– – –
I close the cover, silencing the echo that my piano makes after I play. Then I go back to my computer, my resumes, my methodical hunt for a grown-up job.
This post is so good and so sad and makes me so frustrated at the notion of grown up jobs. (Well done,there.) I want you to be solidly successful without ever having to take a grown up job again. Dammit!
celeste recently posted…And Then She Turned Three
Right? Sigh. Me too. I feel like I did not get what I signed up for.
It’s a Wonderful way of showing your frustration.
It is indeed.
My Tiger Mom routinely extolled the benefits of “real jobs”. I never understood her logic, as we paid a good deal of money for private piano lessons …
Mollie Claire recently posted…Why keeping up appearances is bullshit
Exactly. If only I’d learned that sooner…
Cindy | The Reedster Speaks
Natalie – beautiful as always. It made me cry and ache and the compromises we make.
I know. I know.
*cringes* I hate when people have to compromise for a “grown up” job. This was so beautifully written, Natalie. As always. Made me sad for many people, most specifically the hubs who grunts through a very stressful job every day and never brings it home, all so I can raise the boys and be a writer. *heart squeeze* Someday I’ll buy him that bike shop in Durango, Colorado.
Beth Teliho recently posted…You Know You Want It
Me too. I feel like it was a distraction from doing what I was meant to do. You are very fortunate, indeed!
Oh! Oh, no! Go back, GO BACK! This made me so incredibly sad. I was a piano player, and I always wish I hadn’t quit when I did. My love for the piano makes me tearful sometimes. Maybe you’ll write about it again next month? I’ll be here, waiting.
Samantha S recently posted…Practice Makes Better
Me too. I know you can’t go back, but sometimes I wish I could do things over. I miss it.
I worked in construction sales for 8 years before finally landing my current gig – project manager for a communications company ending in ‘ola, in 2004. I’m older than you so when I was your age, I was miserable. I was selling concrete, hating it, and wanting to use my degree – communications and of course, write.
All I can say, and this is coming from your much older, kinda like a brother, writer friend, is that things will work out. Because you’re talented, motivated, and deserving,.
Hang in there
Lance recently posted…100 Word Song – Lips Like Sugar
God I hope you’re right, Lance. This was incredibly encouraging. thank you.
The older I get, the more I realize “grown-up jobs” are for suckers. Boring, uncreative, lifeless suckers. Sure we all, to an extent, need that grown-up job but nearly every single one of does nothing but make us miserable. Why do we keep doing this to ourselves? For the appearance of being responsible? Pulled together? Blech.
I can relate to your frustration in all of this and I sure as heck would be as well if I was going through this. I get a little pressure from school to decide a career but thankfully I keep most of it at bay, somehow.
Crossing my fingers for you in landing a decent job soon enough. Hopefully one that doesn’t make life a living hell for you.
Kim recently posted…Hi, My Name is Kim and I’m a No Niche Blogger
They are, and I hate that I need the money. But I do. Sigh.
I love this post so much. I too postponed my dreams to pursue a “grown up job” because I thought it was the logical thing to do. I hear from my employees all the time that they need to branch out and find grown up jobs. At least you had the mind to realize that a grown up job is something that puts food on your table and joy in your heart. Cheers!
Martha recently posted…Get That Bear off My Head
The idea of “grown-up” anything is severely overrated.
Ah man! You make a great piano teacher.
Life ain’t easy. There are always choices to second guess and paths we don’t travel. Be we usually end up being exactly where we need to be. Lovely post.
Pam Huggins recently posted…COUNTER WHAT?
I keep reminding myself of that when it’s hard, that I’m exactly where I need to be. It’s not easy.
that cynking feeling
This was beautiful and heartbreaking.
that cynking feeling recently posted…my blue period
Natalie! I was a piano performance major in college for two years! I used to love to play the piano. I would spend 8 hours a day practicing. I remember going to my lessons and when all of that practice didn’t produce the beautiful results during that one hour, I would break down. I so miss my piano. When we moved, we just didn’t have room for it. Thank you for the beautiful trip down memory lane.
Bill Dameron recently posted…Eye of The Beholder
Were you really? That’s fantastic. I’m sorry about the loss of piano. I lived without one for two years, and it was haaaaaard.
Being a grown up is severely overrated.
Twindaddy recently posted…You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry
hello! i randomly clicked on your post through Yeah Write and didn’t expect such a lovely post…i could totally relate though, because i teach piano too. i definitely have those “you didn’t practice.. AGAIN?!” moments… i have a 6 yr old student who pretty much cries every other week whenever she feels like the lesson is too hard. *sigh* but you’re right.. when they finally churn out a song that actually sounds like music, it’s as though i can hear heaven’s chorus singing “Hallelujah!” =D
soapie recently posted…When You Mourn, I Mourn Too
Ah, a kindred spirit! Yes, it can be a frustrating job, but the intrinsic rewards are through the roof! Glad you stopped by; thanks for reading.
Ice Scream Mama
oh this is so disheartening. i am so sad for you and for the compromises you have to make. can you go back to piano teaching? around here, it pays 5x that an hour, more.. with no overtime expected and you could write on your own time. i hate that help wanted ad soo much!!
Ice Scream Mama recently posted…I run because I can’t hide
It is. It’s hard not to get discouraged every damn day. I think about going back to teaching sometimes, but I think that door is closed for me now for various reasons.
I wish what you love could be your grown up job. Why do we need to work? Blah!
Kate recently posted…Boy behind the blog
Me too. It should be that way.
Don’t you find it ridiculous applying for mid-level jobs where the employers ask for as much as if you were applying for senior management?
Have you thought about taking in students again? At least you would be doing something that makes you happy.
Vanessa D. recently posted…Jobs of Last Resort
Such a beautiful post. Being a grown up has to be about the biggest sham ever. If I had known what it would be like, sometimes I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been so excited to get here. I know something amazing is waiting for you. Also, the piano is my most favorite instrument. I tried to learn to play, but I am so musically challenged it isn’t funny. I would love to hear you play some time.
Michelle Longo recently posted…Everything Changes in an Instant.
Great post, Natalie. Finding the balance between doing what we love and loving what we do – it’s so hard. My partner studied music in college and worked as an accompanist for a year or so after she graduated, and it broke her – she found that making music for a living was so stressful that she couldn’t enjoy it. We still have a piano, but she rarely plays. 🙁 I hope you dust off the keys often, just for your own peace and sanity.
Christine recently posted…Like the Tides
Are you where you’re meant to be? Adunno. Life is On Purpose, and all that, but sometimes sucky crap happens and we just have to try to take the good from it, whatever meagre scrapings of good we can find.
That’s not WHY these things happen – we’re collateral damage, but whilst they occur, we have choices.
I’ve made horrendous business choices which resulted in us being nearly homeless several times. Shit happens.
But I do so hope you get a job soon.
Considerer recently posted…A-Z April: Opinion (Hardwired)
Aw, Natalie, I hate that you have to look for a grownup job. I want you to be able to live off of doing what you love (not that I necessarily do either although I have traded travel and stress and 70 hour weeks for 1/5 of the pay and that was totally worth it). Sigh. Here’s to hoping the very best of both worlds comes your way – grow-up job pay doing something you really really love. Sigh. And hugs.
Kristi Campbell recently posted…Our Land- Found: Purpose and Joy
Sarah @ LeftBrainBuddha
Oh, such a lovely and heartfelt post. Trust me, the jobs are out there and there ARE “grownup” jobs that can sustain and fulfill us… the challenging trick is finding that place where ‘your greatest passion meets the world’s deepest need’ … and then get paid do it. Best of luck to you.
Sarah @ LeftBrainBuddha recently posted…It’s Hard to Be a Kid! Tips for Compassionate Parenting
The more grown-up I get the more I wonder if the whole “real job” thing isn’t just an elaborate hoax. So many things like teaching piano lessons or writing or whatnot are so fulfilling and, while you don’t pull down $$$, you make ends meet. Especially in a world where “sensible” jobs pay $13/hr, I sometimes wonder if it’s worth growing up at all.
Larks recently posted…Comment on The past week(ish) in pictures. (4/2-4/14) by Kay
Kim at Awkward Laughter
Oh my, my search for a “grown up” job has taken me in many directions. My final decision was that my job didn’t need to represent my day-to-day happiness, just something that I enjoyed. I wish you the best in finding a similar fit/peace in your life. I discovered the search was much easier when my job no longer needed to be my “passion.” There were other outlets for that.
Kim at Awkward Laughter recently posted…I Have an Ass!: 30 30-Somethings
I hope so. I just want to do something I do well and enjoy. I don’t need to be a nuclear physicist or anything, I just want to not hate my job. Thanks for the wisdom.
This post reminds me that I am about to finish grad school and it is expected of me to get a grown up job after I graduate. I’m only two months away and have little motivation to send out my resume this summer. Ugh!
Josie recently posted…Back to reality
Sigh. It’s so hard to do when you don’t have the motivation.
I love this so much, it just resonates with me.
Jack recently posted…Are You The Master Of Your Destiny?
Thank you, Jack!
I played the piano as a child (guitar now), but i still sit in awe when a true master sits and plays a classical piece. Still love the instrument. I tried to give lessons to some kids on various instruments and realized my tolerance for annoying is very low. So I became a teacher in the real world. What was i thinking? Some days, when the class is about to lose it, i put on some Bach (or others) and think of a tropical beach, and I want to be mute, and explore forbidden fant…oh wait…That’s the plot of The Piano.
Chris Plumb recently posted…Finding the Right Words for Easter
Haha! I think we’ve all enjoyed those fantasies now and again…
I play the guitar, too, though not nearly as well as the piano.
I’ve been applying for some jobs here and there for the past few years, and yes, the requirements and lack of response are getting ridiculous. I even recently applied for a supervisory position in another district, doing my same job that I have 13 years of experience with, and sending it to my boss’ boss who acknowledged receipt. Yet, that was 3 weeks ago and I’ve heard nothing since. So frustrating. Have you thought about going back to the music? It sounds like you miss it and it might make you happy. Just a thought.
Misty recently posted…I’ll Be Back
It is incredibly frustrating. Sigh.
Yeah, I’ve thought about it, and even tried to for a while. But my network has shrunk so much, and I didn’t leave on the best of terms. I’d have to start from the bottom up again, which doesn’t sound all that appealing.
Oh, I can so relate to this Nat. I taught guitar, and after that, worked a series of mind numbing, soul crushing temp jobs. But I know that with your smarts and talent you’ll find something that makes you happy and makes the most of your abilities. Hang in there my friend.
Linda Roy recently posted…Social Climbing Mount Everest
I hope so. My fingers are crossed for that day…