ASK ALEX: "I'm in a Job Rut".

 
“Does this filter make me look wise??”

“Does this filter make me look wise??”

It’s been tough for me to write lately. I feel like every time I put pen to paper, something angry comes out. With the state of our nation, it’s been difficult to care about much else these days than the atrocities that are taking place at the hand of our own government. It feels like everything I have to say comes back to the fear and heartbreak I feel for our country.

Last month, I asked you guys on Instagram what kind of advice you were in need of. I got a multitude of answers, ranging from how to find the best sunglasses for your face shape, to help with getting rid of toxic people from your life. I’ve sat down a few times to start writing my answers, but every time I got sidetracked and ended up on more of a tangent than a talk. But last week- something shifted. After the El Paso & Dayton shootings, and the round-up of undocumented immigrants in Mississippi which left a dozen children without their parents, I felt a burning helplessness to do something. And I realized the quickest way to do something was to start spreading kindness, compassion and empathy. And I know I can do so with my words. I also bought a stranger a cookie last week- only to find out they “don’t EAT COOKIES”!! So, here I am, back on my computer!!

So, without further ado, here’s my first article with “Ask Alex” or “Advice from Alex” or “Talking Out of Her Ass, it’s Alex!”- whatever we want to call it- I’m answering your questions!

 

“I’m in a job rut. I’ve been with my current employer for a few years, and I really hate my job and want to look elsewhere. How did you end up finding a job you like?”

 

If you would have asked me a few years ago (hell, even a few months ago) to dish out job advice, I would have laughed and then gotten in my 2001 Saturn Station and popped in a Jonas Brothers CD. SIMPLER TIMES! But I didn’t start out very strong in the job-scene (does anyone?). My first job, I diverted away from fashion, which I had gone to college for. I took a job that paid well-enough and gave me experience and I was grateful- but I was miserable. It wasn’t for me. And I remember in that time, everything felt so final. I felt like I had chosen my course and I let my job dictate my moods and my life. I never shut the job off, I came home every night riled up and angry.

Eventually, I left that job and got back into fashion, working for Linda Dresner. Out of college, I had pretty much stalked Linda, emailing and calling her store until she agreed to meet with me. At that time, she didn’t have any work for me. But I offered to come in and help with sales and whatever else she needed, and we formed a relationship. Three years later- she called me and I left my job to work with her. I worked with Linda for almost three years- and it was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. Linda brought life back into my goals.

When we moved to Las Vegas, I was convinced I would never find a job in fashion here. I was applying for anything and everything, sitting in coffee shops almost everyday firing off my resume. After about 5 months of nothing, I took a seasonal job working in the Zappos Call Center. I had really wanted to work for Zappos, and I felt this could be a good foot in the door. The hours weren’t ideal, I sat 8 hours a day in a call center, fielding customer service calls. I surprisingly enjoyed it- but I think more-or-less I was just happy to be working again and talking to actual people, not just yelling wrong answers at Alex Trebeck.

Three weeks into the 8-week program, I got an email from Chloe Gosselin. I had actually applied for a job to work for her husband, when she came across my resume. She was also looking to hire someone for her business, and we met for coffee. I left the call center and starting working with Chloe two weeks later.

Here’s the thing- sometimes luck just has something to do with it. But it wasn’t without hard work. For five months, 4-5 days a week, I was actively applying for anything that sounded remotely interesting to me. I reached out to companies that didn’t even have job postings. This leads me to my best job-hunting practice:

You do not have to wait for a company to have an opening. Think of what you want to do. Is it marketing? Advertising? Tech? Research a company that you admire or are interested in and find someone who works in the related department-or, if it’s a super small company, reach out to the owner. Many times, I would just send a cold-email, ask if I could come in and meet with that person over coffee because I admired their company or wanted to learn more about it. You would be shocked with how generous people can be with their time. Don’t get me wrong- 8 times out of 10 I got no response. But the other two times, I made valuable connections and was on their radar if an opening did arise- that’s how I got the seasonal work with Zappos. I emailed a recruiter asking to have coffee and learn more about Zappos- a few weeks later, she emailed me about the Customer Service role. I immediately went to Whole Foods and bought a lunch box, I was back in business, baby!!

Never think that a job or task is beneath you. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve talked to, fresh out of college, who thinks they should be able to skip “entry-level”. It’s not what you see on Instagram. You have to work and be willing to do it all. Sometimes you take a new job and feel like you’re taking a small step back. But one step back, to ultimately take five forward? I was terrible at math in high school but sounds good to me!!

If you are currently in a job that sucks the soul out of you, you have to do everything you can to not bring it home with you. Leave work at work. I used to sit in my car for 15-minutes after a certain job I had, just to decompress and shake it off. I was letting the misery of the job take the joy out of the rest of my day, and I didn’t want to give it that power.

If you work with people who are intent on making you miserable, remember that flowers still grow among weeds. Or in simpler terms, don’t internalize the bullshit happening around you that stunts your growth. That was the hardest lesson for me to learn, and the hardest habit to kick.

In terms of applying for jobs- making my resume was truly the bane of my existence. I thought I had a killer resume- until I sent it to a few friends who kindly roasted it into oblivion. My experience was strong! But my resume might as well have been written in Comic Sans. It had a lot on there, but it said nothing. The best tip I ever received was that every sentence should have a result. So instead of:

“Responsible for all e-mail marketing initiatives”

It should be:

“Responsible for all e-mail marketing initiatives, leading to a 33% increase in active subscribers”.

And while we’re at it- delete your objective sentence. Delete it like your racist Uncle from Facebook. It takes up valuable property on your resume, and it tells the employer what they already know- that you want that job, CLEARLY!!!

It also helped me to buy a resume template off Etsy- it took the hard work out of designing my resume so I could focus on the content of it.

I think we’ve been fed a myth about the “Dream Job”- and we pressure ourselves to find it as fast as we can. We tell ourselves we’ll be happy when we have it. In those five months that I wasn’t working, I realized that I had associated my happiness with work, and the jobs I had. If my job sucked- I was miserable, even when I wasn’t there. I had gotten completely dependent on my job to dictate the other parts of life. I struggled to find things that could fill me with joy and purpose the way I had told myself a job should make me feel. In those five months, I had to learn that my happiness came from other outside factors. I had to focus on how to create a “Dream Life”, instead the illusive “Dream Job”. And it wasn’t this poetic, romanticized journey people sell- sorry but that’s only for people who don’t need MONEY!!! It was challenging and stressful as hell.

I’m not a job expert, I’m really fortunate to be in a position now where I enjoy going into work and feel respected and happy. What I want the takeaway to be is that while your job environment is extremely important to your well-being, it can’t be the sole factor of it. If you’re ready to be onto the next thing, start putting yourself out there, be willing to get a little uncomfortable. The amount of cringe-y emails I sent (I actually put “Hello, Is it Me You’re Looking For? as the subject of an application email. GOOD TIMES!) and unanswered calls discouraged me at times, but all it takes is one. Again- you might be in weeds, but you are a flower (one of those cool, Instagrammy ones) and growth requires action.

In Repair

 
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After a rough stretch of days, I officially declared myself in a “funk”. You know the feeling- you don’t quite feel like yourself, every emotion and feeling seems to be heightened. My first memory of this feeling was when Marissa Cooper died in The O.C….BUT THAT WAS DIFFERENT! A “faux funk”, if you will. A real, adult funk is hard to shake, surrounded by feelings of self-doubt, uncertainty and unworthiness.

I have very little reason to be anything less than ecstatic these days. We just closed on a house, we have a cute new puppy to love (and to chase around the house when he steals my underwear from the laundry and puts it on his head. MY GIFTED SON!), we just got back from a vacation, I’m healthy, and I actually like going to my job.

But for the past few days, I just haven’t been feeling it. I have felt removed from myself, my routines, my usual character. I’m not going to be too hard on myself here- these periods happen no matter what your life looks like in that moment. But I knew I had to take back my humanity. I’m not a runner, I don’t “find myself” with yoga, I can’t “sweat it out!!” with boxing. Over the last year or so, I’ve had to find activities and practices to put in my arsenal that bring me back to myself. My personal practices include:

-Going to the library and finding a new book (cookbooks are therapeutic to me, even if I never make anything from them.)

-Sipping my coffee in the morning at home, not from a to-go cup in my car (great news for my cup holders, which are usually espresso stained)

-Reading outside

- Going to Trader Joe’s and perusing every aisle, grabbing all the snacks that look good (and usually opening a box of something in the car to eat on the way home…maybe I should be taking better care of my car)

-Baking something (this week it was a cherry tart, which I overcooked but Michael said it’s the best tart he’s ever had. 1000 POINTS TO MICHAEL!)

-Buying flowers that I will most likely kill within 3 days but that first day…they are healing!

Even writing this right now, outside with a glass of wine (blame any errors on the Pinot), is a therapeutic action in repairing myself. I take these mundane, somewhat daily things and I put them on priority. Some may call it “self-care”, but it’s more than that. It’s the practice of reminding myself that I am worth caring for.

We all require healing. Maybe it’s once a month, or once a week. Maybe it’s massive work (I firmly believe therapy is the greatest gift you can give yourself), or just a tune-up. To heal is to be human.

In my favorite book, Heart Talk , Cleo Wade says “It does no good to think about running a marathon when you still have a broken foot”. Take the time you need, put priority on your practices, your “self-activators”. Find your way back and remember, you can never be truly lost if you know who you are.

dust

 
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Don’t worry- I’m not going to start this post with an “I’m back after a little hiatus!” bit. I’ve played it and it’s gotten old. The truth is, I just stopped writing. Not because I didn’t enjoy it or have anything to say, but simply because life got busy. Right after I published my last post in November, I finally got a job in Nevada. A job I love, and I decided early on I would give it my all. I put all my focus not just into my job, but also my marriage, which was finally back on the ground after a difficult move, and immersing myself in our new community. The last few months have flown by, and it’s almost a year-to-date that we found out we were leaving Detroit. And guess what? I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and it completely snuck up on me.

In all my contentment, I still I felt an itch to put pen to paper again (I write all my posts in a notebook before typing. Eat your heart out, Shakespeare!!!) Every day when I would walk into my closet, I would pass a framed copy of “The Nines” logo that my friendly so sweetly made me for my birthday one year. I would walk by it, think “I should write soon”, and then just go in my closet and get distracted by a sweater. But yesterday as I walked past it, I noticed all the dust that had accumulated around the frame, and it hit me. I was letting the dust collect around something I loved. I gave up on something that was supposed to be growing. And in true “Carrie Bradshaw” style (even though she is THE WORST, don’t get me started) , I had to wonder “When being content stunts your growth-is it really such a good thing?”.

No-one made me stop writing. It was actually the opposite. My husband would ask if there was anything new to read, my boss said she really enjoyed my writing. I feel supported by the people around me. But I used all the things going on in my life as a crutch to avoid doing something that was enjoyable, but required a lot of effort. I was so busy with life and happy with just-the-way-things-were that I forgot that growth requires doing. That in order to have a voice, you have to speak. I neglected the piece of me that loves to talk about women’s rights and skincare and how not needing a bra until 8th grade ruined my self esteem- we’ll get to that later, OH WILL WE EVER!

This post isn’t about “being back, guys!”. It’s meant to serve as a reminder that if you have let dust collect around something you love, something that makes you who you are-you can always clean it off and pick it back up. You can also hire a cleaning company. That has no double meaning- the dust was so alarming that we literally hired a cleaning company. Talk soon. xx

Viva Las Vegas!

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That's right- the Ayaubs are moving from Detroit to the desert! We are living the dream of being closer to Celine Dion...OK, OK, Michael got a really great job, too. This summer, Mike and I will be moving to Henderson, Nevada to pursue the next stage in our careers. 

When Mike initially got a call about a job in Las Vegas, I stubbornly declared that I could never, ever move to Las Vegas. I had images of someone handing me naked-lady cards on my way to get coffee, or running into one of those giant "Elmo" characters on a morning walk. And although this new job sounded like this would be a great opportunity for him, what about my job? We are both two very career-driven people, and I got overwhelmed with the thought of not finding an opportunity for myself out there, too. 

When we flew into Las Vegas for his interview, we drove about 25 minutes from The Strip to Henderson. I was ready to hate it. I told you guys- I'm horribly stubborn. We toured around the town and even looked at a few apartments. My ego was displeased to find that I didn't hate it at all- I actually loved it. It was nothing like the flashing lights and endless buffets that The Strip boasts. It was very comparable to our life here in Birmingham, just with more palm trees and a bigger "Whole Foods" (put that near the top of our "pro" list). We saw an apartment we loved, and now we had a decision to make.

When we got back to the hotel that night, I completely shut down. We cancelled our dinner reservation. We got room service and I cried. The overwhelming sadness of leaving all our friends and family behind hit me like a true Vegas hangover. I couldn't imagine not being able to call up my parents and meet them for breakfast on a Sunday. I couldn't fathom not being able to drive 10 minutes to my best friend's house, or meet my sister for a pedicure, or visit my in-laws for dinner. And what about my job? What was I going to do? 

I realized I was using the word "I" in my thoughts far too much. I wasn't in this alone, I had my husband, who had this really exciting opportunity, and I cried all over it. I will say, I haven't quite mastered some parts of marriage yet. This isn't to say we aren't happy. Being married to Mike has been my favorite 6-months ever. But anyone that says this is easy, is probably lying. It's not just about you anymore, there's two people that need to be considered in every single situation. You have to compromise, work together, and always keep in mind that it is the two of you fighting against the problem. Not fighting against each other. You work on these things everyday, and sometimes you fall short.

When we got back to Michigan, I felt calmer, more excited about this next step in our lives. I knew moving was the right thing to do, and so did Mike. We applied for the apartment and started calling moving companies.  We came to terms with the fact that our parents won't be a drive away for dinner, and we will go a while without seeing our siblings and friends. But we thought of how fun it will be when they visit, or we road-trip to California to meet up with them for vacation. This is going to be a huge change for us, and not every day will be butterflies and swimming pools (ok, we will have a bomb a$$ swimming pool though). But change is just a part of life, and we can choose to panic or embrace it. 

I am going to miss the hell out of Detroit. I tear up just as I type that, because I have grown to love this place after complaining about it my whole adolescent-life . I'm going to miss our neighborhood in Birmingham, and walking to get our favorite coffee. I'll miss driving downtown to a cool new restaurant, or store, and experiencing the thriving, beautiful culture of Detroit. I'll miss movie night with our friends, brunch with my girlfriends, Mediterranean food-binges with my sister, seeing our parents almost every week. I'll miss the people and places that made our life here so hard to leave. 

But I am excited- WE are excited! I can't wait to find a new pizza place together, decorate a new apartment, not experience winter (sorry guys), see Celine Dion more often (sorry, Mike), walk outside and sit by the pool with a book in January, experience all the ups and downs of change with my husband. I'm excited to see what's next for my career, while watching Mike's take incredible steps forward, too. 

We don't know how long we'll be in Nevada. Or if we'll move to California next, or London, or Idaho, or back to Detroit. We are taking this all as it comes, and I can't wait to see how it all turns out. 

To the desert! 

Lately.

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The start of a new year- typically filled with optimism, new beginnings and a whole lot of green vegetables. But so far in 2018, I’ve felt a bit anxious, un-easy and filled with more cookies than kale. So this year hasn’t been off to the best start for me emotionally, and I feel the only way for me to face that, is to address it and move on like a the lead singer of a boy band on the brink of extinction.

I’ll start off by saying I am happy. I am fresh into marriage and truly loving it, happy with my job and other endeavors. But what keeps me up at night other than binge watching “Game of Thrones” are the thoughts “Where am I going?”, “Am I good enough?”, and “What SHOULD I be doing?”.  A consistent theme in my life has been comparing myself to others and their doings, and feeling inadequate when mine don’t seem to be up to par with “theirs”. Lately, I’ve found myself on a lot more Instagram benders, watching other people’s lives while mine slowly passes me by. Time I could spend bettering my future is spent admiring the lives of people I don’t even know. And I’m anxious while I’m doing it, because I know it’s not time well spent, and that leaves me beating myself up and feeling badly about my laziness. And repeat, and repeat, and repeat.

I saw an article on Facebook the other day (yes, another social media bender!!), from a 26-year-old Australian woman named Holly, who was dying of cancer. It was all over my newsfeed, so I clicked on it while I was eating breakfast. There was one part in there that hit me like a truck:

“Life isn’t mean to be lived through a screen nor is it about getting the perfect photo…enjoy the bloody moment, people! Stop trying to capture it for everyone else.”

Stop trying to capture it for everyone else.

I know that social media is a business for a lot of people, and I think that’s a really cool thing about the world we live in today. But I have come to the realization that I am not one of those people. I don’t think I want to be a professional blogger, or "influencer" (it’s hard work and I give those people who have made a legitimate success out of it their props). And not because I think those are dirty words- there’s a lot of bloggers I look up to and keep up with regularly. I struggle with this a lot every day- in that I don’t know exactly what I want to be yet. And if I don’t know, how can I convey a specific “image” online if I don’t even know what that is yet? I just want to be me- un-photoshopped, un-calculated. 

Here’s what I do know:

I want to write. I want to impact someone’s life. I want to do something someday that will change the lives of women and other underrepresented groups. I want to give back all the kindness and support that has been given to me. I want to chase a dream and a goal and not a an Instagram-able life. I want to be more present in moments-big or small. I want to not be so hard on myself when I do find myself binging on social media- but I want it to be for positivity and motivation and knowledge. Not to make me feel inadequate and bad about myself. I want to enjoy and capture moments for myself- without needing the validation of the world and their likes.

This isn’t a vendetta against social media. I am very grateful to it, because I have met some truly amazing people- some of which have become my greatest friends that I talk to every single day. I love communicating with people everyday- I always got my seat moved in class for "excessive talking" so this makes a lot of sense. But in this year, I am actively going to try to enjoy the moment instead of capturing it for someone else. Yes, I will still share by beauty routines, my matcha-lattes, an outfit I feel bomb in, something funny that happened to me in the meat department at Kroger, or a new lipstick I’m excited about. I enjoy sharing those things, and getting to interact with people. But I am no longer going to force it. This may mean less ~content~, but that means that maybe I’m out enjoying the moment for myself a little more.

I don’t want to wait until something catastrophic happens in my life to realize these things, and I think that’s why I wanted to write this all down. I needed to hear it, and maybe someone out there needed to as well. This is my reminder and your reminder that we are not deemed inadequate or less because our lives don’t look like someone else’s. Life has different stages and plans for everyone, and I intend to seek mine out, starting now (okay...gonna finish this coffee first).