Above & Beyond

When I applied to a store belonging to a company that I’ve previously worked at for five years, I went in for the interview and before I’d even sat down, the manager asked, “Do you want to be a supervisor?”

“Yes!” I told her. I’d applied to be a cashier. The store I worked at before gave me all the responsibilities of a supervisor, but never gave me the title to avoid giving me the pay raise. Yeah. I gave five years of my life to those assholes.

Anyway, she told me my wage (quite a bit higher than minimum which is what I’d be making if I’d been hired as a cashier), and I left the interview high on life. I’d finally found a job after dropping out of school and considering that I was expecting minimum wage, I was stoked.

In fact, I was feeling so good that I texted my mom to let her know.

“That’s disappointing,” my mother responded upon hearing my wage and popping my bubble of excitement.

I promptly ignored her for the rest of the week. This in itself is huge accomplishment considering that for my whole life I’ve let her opinions change mine, making me think yeah, I guess that is disappointing about something I’d been excited about only moments before.

I’ve since been working steadily and you know what? I love it. Every aspect about this store is an improvement from my former store, and I’m happier than I ever was in the education program. I’m still living in a city that’s NOT Bumbleton, and now I’m supporting myself for the first time in my life. I’ve been thriving, having mostly good days at work and spending my evenings doing things I love (as opposed to marking and creating assignments and seriously considering setting myself on fire).

A couple of days ago, I went for coffee with a friend, and she asked how I was liking my job.

My response was weird.

Despite how I was really feeling, I said, “It’s okay.” But that’s not all I did. I avoided eye contact and put my head down when like a puppy being asked about the last time it got kicked.

What the hell, right? I’m doing so well, yet I was acting like I was being tortured eight hours a day, five days a week. Why did I do this?

I’ve realized that I lied about how I feel about my job because I felt that unless I pretended I was miserable, how dare I get satisfaction from working in retail? That is my parents’ perspective. It is not mine, not at all. Yet, I was letting their view point was make me feel inadequate.

They think of working in retail as a rung just above servitude, that the only people who work in it are “losers” like my relatives who are in and out of jail and stealing from charity. It’s just dawned on me right now even as I’m writing this how cruel saying that to me is. I’ve worked in retail for over a decade. My parents have been very vocal about their perspective the whole time. Yes, I worked in retail to get through school, but their perspective robbed me of the ability to feel pride or take joy in those 20 hours a week I spent working in a store. That’s ten years of my life that by their standards, I’ve been a loser. That should be the title of my memoir: Ten years of loserdom: a Kat story.

Their view about retail work was one of the hardest parts of dropping out. In my head was always exempt from loser status if I worked in retail and was in school at the same time. Even when I graduated with a bachelor’s degree on the president’s list and I couldn’t find work anywhere else because the economy was shit, I was a loser because I wasn’t in school. I’d just made a huge achievement, but I felt like I was a go-nowhere. A nothing. Destined to be miserable until some prince charming in the form of a career rescued me from the supposed dregs of society.

That’s why I’ve been attending post secondary school for seven years.

But not anymore.

Now I’m a drop out with a retail job. I am the epitome of loser in my parents’ and society’s eyes (even though I have a degree). Of course this job isn’t where I want to be five years from now, but…this is where I want to be right now. It took a lot for me to realize that.

I am going to stop hanging my head with shame every time someone asks what program I’m in and I have to say, “I’m not in school.” Because I’m not ashamed. I haven’t been in and out of jail, and I don’t steal from charities. I’m not my relatives.

This job pays my bills and leaves me with an extra bit that I can put away for traveling, and when the time comes, it will let me have the time off to travel. This job doesn’t come home with me at the end of the night, and because of that, I have time to write, crochet, play the ukulele etc. A career, especially teaching, wouldn’t allow for that. Best of all, I’m happy. This is especially considering that I’m trying to learn how to deal with emotions again after being on anti-depressants for the last four years.

I’ve been clinging to this Postsecret since I dropped out:

hope

I feel like I’m finally in a place where I can be “above & beyond” happy too, no matter what I’m doing.

Also, this is just one more thing I am grateful for: this city actually has a creative writing club! If my life hadn’t lead me to this city, I wouldn’t be able to attend. Boom.

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2 thoughts on “Above & Beyond”

  1. Loved reading this! It takes guts to go with your own ‘flow’ and values – well done to you! We absorb so much of what our immediate influences tell us, but when you become conscious of what that does to you, and how it can control you against your very own nature, well, that is everything you need in life. I know this all too well from my own experiences. Enjoy your ‘now’ time!

    Like

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