“Comparison is the thief of joy”

– Mark Twain.

A conversation I’ve recently had with my boyfriend, made me reflect a little on my life aspirations. I grew up in a family where the absence of money was always an issue, I saw how my parents really struggled to get us by and how it wore both of them down. Because of that, I was taught from early on to look at friends whose parents had more money and to understand that their families were happier than mine because of that.

And that’s what growing up entails! We all have experienced things in our childhood that put us down in some way or another and that have shaped our aspirations. Some of us want to earn a lot of money because we didn’t have any growing up, some of us want to break free and travel around the world because we’re sick of our parents telling us what to do with our lives. Some of us are put down by our skin color, through subconscious discrimination; boys by locker room conversations, girls by pictures in magazines.

So we become insecure, which leads to viewing ourselves in terms of others—their accomplishments and habits, their wealth and their happiness. We compare.

Well, let’s compare. On social media, I post about traveling to Hawaii for business or instagram a picture of a “casual Friday night team outing” where me and my colleagues just have a blast. Or that birthday party in that hip beach bar where we all look young and successful and accomplished. From the outside, it probably looks like my whole life is just one hell of an opportunity- I have my own company credit card, am traveling for business, am being forecasted a managerial position in the medium run. If others compared themselves to me based on the above, the conclusion might be that I am on a promising career path and very lucky. When I compare myself to others, I see them being happier, more fulfilled and more excited about their jobs and I get jealous.

I am starting to realize though that I can’t compare myself to others because: I’m not them. I don’t have their mind or experiences or life, so why should I care if I’m earning just as much money as them or wear the same clothes they have? Why should I envy them for being passionate about their jobs, for having projects that are a matter of heart not money, for living in the moment? The spectrum of my perception, experience and existence should begin and end with me. It shouldn’t matter what others do or what they have.

Sure, others have more advantages or opportunities than you, but that’s their life, and it doesn’t apply to yours. Sure, your life could be better, but anyone’s life could be better. And even more than that, things could be worse.

And so, instead of looking around me to make sure I’m “on track for the career” I should focus on maximizing my situation, and what I have been given in life.

Finally, on the question of the people you are jealous of—do they suffer? Are they happy? Everyone suffers. No one is perfect. Everyone loses both parents. Everyone sees something they worked towards fail. Living is going through pain. Everyone’s life is simply normal to them, and full of both happy moments and sad ones. We need to remember though that we are behind the wheel. Where we go, how fast we go and what route we take to get there doesn’t matter, as long as we go! And I’m gonna try to do just that, instead of complaining about not being where I want to be while everyone around me seems to.

 

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One-Way Ticket

My first time of ever buying a one-way ticket was pretty much a year ago. It took me from Hamburg to London to Los Angeles and, finally, to San Francisco. I booked it with that bittersweet feeling of not knowing what to expect. Yet, it was the best thing I had ever done for myself. I knew it was my life, my journey, my way of starting over and I took the stir wheel once again. Booking a one-way ticket is a very liberating way of taking control while, at the same time, entering uncontrollable terrain. You should give it a thought!

Then, I arrived in San Francisco and fell in love. With a city. With a state. With a boy. With housemates that became more like my host family. With new places I got to see. Carmel-by-the-Sea, Big Sur, Yosemite, L.A, Stinson Beach, the Redwoods, Santa Cruz, Vegas, The Grand Canyon…

I also changed. From the outside, I became tanned and happy. I surfed and I meditated and I tried Yoga and Kambucha and Kale Chips. From the inside, I became my own best friend, a little more confident in myself and a little more determined in what I wanted my life to look like. And, overall, I was -am- very fulfilled and happy. But, after almost a year, my studies are nearing an end. Being here on a student visa, I had one shot at finding a job related to my field of study. It was either that or going home, without knowing if I ever were able to get such an opportunity again. I wasn’t ready to go back yet, I knew that my U.S. journey was not over. So I worried and applied and reached out and really really tried.

Yesterday, I got a job. I will be staying in the US for at least another year with the prospect of being sponsored for a long-term work visa after. I felt like Will Smith in the final scene of “The Pursuit of Happyness” – which happens to take place in San Francisco as well, actually. So, I guess, that’d be the part in a movie where the main characters wander down a street, off into the distance. Or where a book would end. But I am nowhere near finished, I am so excited for what lies ahead of me. I will be starting my first real job at a tech start-up here in San Francisco. I want to finally get my drivers license, regardless of how recklessly dangerous those damn hills in town may be. I want to go surf on the weekends and get good at it. I want to continue living my life, see the things I never thought I’d see and keep on laughing and being happy. I will celebrate another Thanksgiving and another Halloween, will yet once more live through SF’s seasons (“sunny” and “foggy”) and keep meeting new people. So, for all you followers- stay tuned! I will continue with my San Francisco updates and I hope you are just as excited about that as I am.

For now, I will use Rowling’s words: All is well. All is more than well!

Cheers,

Ari

Five Things You Should Know About Job Hunting

I know. I know.

This has basically been Ari’s blog for the past months now. I’m sorry. One of the reasons I haven’t been blogging was my internship, which kept me busy basically 12 hours a day, if you count the commute and lunch break, which you can’t very well spend blogging unless you want to be known as the antisocial intern.

Well, my internship ended a few months back, but then instead of blogging, I started writing resumes and cover letters, hunting for a position that would be both a step up from interning and a step over in the creative direction, towards Indesign and away from Powerpoint, if you will. And there’s one thing I learned in the weeks that I was job hunting… it sucks.

I know some of you have gone through this, the rest of you will once you finish your studies, and unless you’re the kind of lucky genius who a) turns a student job into a permanent position immediately upon graduation, b) has already signed with Microsoft to start working at their New York office upon graduation (yes, a friend of mine managed to do this almost two years in advance) or c) is taking over your dad’s/brother’s/grandma’s business and therefore will never worry about applications… well, unless you fall into any of those categories, you’ll be networking and cover-lettering and resume-tuning until you’re dizzy and frustrated. Even if it’s only a short time (in the end, I was unemployed for exactly a month), it will feel like forever and it will most likely make you doubt if you’re EVER going to get hired. So, I decided I’d share my grand wisdom (well, okay, bits of wisdom) in the hopes that someone will feel marginally less frustrated with themselves and their career than I did. Here’s five things you have to know about job hunting for the first time:

  1. Most of your applications will be rejected. Something like 80% of applications I sent out were ignored for a few weeks before I got a brief email stating that they’d decided otherwise. From some, I still haven’t received as much as an acknowledgement that the application got there in the first place. Initially, when this happened, I’d follow up, concerned that maybe my email actually did not get there. The most I got out of that was a brief response that basically said, “Yes, your application is here, now stop whining.” I know people tell you to follow up, always, and I’m sure it doesn’t hurt, but if the company hasn’t felt like inviting you for an interview or hiring you after said interview, then a follow-up won’t change that, either. You can cry about it (I certainly did a few times) or you can accept it and move on.
  2. For every friendly HR contact, there seems to be an HR person who doesn’t give a sh*t about applicants. Don’t waste your time with those people, it’s not even worth being frustrated about. Even if that firm was interested in hiring you, what does it say about them if the people whose main responsibility is dealing with applicants are inconsiderate or even rude?
  3. Ask for feedback. If you’re rejected from a position, send an email back and tell them you’d really appreciate if they could let you know why they decided otherwise. Again, in many cases, you just won’t get a response. I once received an answer that almost verbatim said, “Dear Judith, we do not give reasons for our decisions. Sincerely, HR.” On the other hand, once my question started a conversation with the owner of a small advertising agency. He’s now a contact in my business network of choice and who knows, something good may come of that eventually.
  4. Always, always, always find out who your contact person is. This is the number one advice you’ll find when googling “How to write a good cover letter”. After writing over twenty applications and imagining how many of these PDFs a HR person goes through on a given day – well, I can sort of imagine them just throwing out any that didn’t even bother to find out their name. Additionally, sometimes, when you have to call to figure out a contact person, you end up chatting with whoever’s on the line briefly – and maybe they’ll remember you when the application comes through, or maybe they’ll even give you a more personal email address rather than the standard jobs@… . You never know! It really doesn’t take that much effort – show them that you’re willing to go that extra mile! (More like an extra yard and a half, really.)
  5. You probably won’t see it coming. I applied to several positions that I had a really good feeling about, and a few that I had a “meh” sort of attitude towards. Around application #20, I became a robot. When I finally got invited for a job interview, it was for an application I’d submitted half-awake, barely two hours before I got the response. I had really liked the job ad, but I’d felt like I was too exhausted to write anything convincing in my cover letter. Apparently, I was dead wrong – three days later I had an interview, and a week after that I started work! On the other hand, some of the applications that I sent in feeling like there couldn’t possibly anyone with a cooler cover letter and more convincing CV… I never even heard back.
    Now, a few days ago, I even got a second invitation for an interview – this time I vividly remember telling my boyfriend that the application was “the worst I’ve written so far”. I half wanted to just go to the interview to ask what exactly they saw in my cover letter!

The bottom line is: It’s a struggle, it’s tough, but you will get through it! Just don’t give up. Just keep writing. All you need is one “YES” – and it won’t matter if you got 20, 50, or 200 “NO”s before that. So… go get ’em!

The right job for me?

So, I’ve actually been back on this beautiful campus that I just left earlier this month with a diploma in one hand and my teddybear Aristotle Panda, a goodbye present from my friends, in the other. (Okay, and a car packed to the roof… I really mean it, chock-full of stuff, I spent the car ride holding a plant on my lap and arranging my feet in between a guitar and a box that I’m pretty sure contained about 30 bottles of nailpolish.)

But never mind the tetris-like arrangement of stuff in the car… I wanted to talk about something else. I wanted to talk about coming back to help organize a conference. And by that, I pretty much mean, sending a ton of emails. Event management can be summed up in two words – “many emails”. I don’t want to offend any event managers reading our blog, so here is a disclaimer: It’s not easy. It’s not a lazy-person job. All these emails that you send – you have to make pretty darn sure you don’t delete the important ones, don’t forget to respond to the urgent ones, CC the people who will otherwise be confused and/or upset at being left out of decisions, and of course, you have to keep track of EVERYTHING.

A conference doesn’t just need people attending and people talking. It needs coffee breaks, cold drinks, accommodation, schedules, dinner catering, changed opening hours for the cafeteria, travel cost requests and reimbursements, conference fees, participation confirmations, flight bookings, emergency numbers, bedsheets, towels, soap, a welcome desk, a chair and table for said welcome desk, glasses, water, wine, beer, more coffee (this time for the organizer), and the list goes on and on and on.

Truth be told, I like most of it. I like being a head organizer. I like that this conference is something I created. I like knowing that people will have a vegetarian option at dinner because I requested it, and that they will have Internet vouchers because I thought of them in time, and that they will have a campus map with colourful dots on it that will make their lives so much easier. You know when you go to an event and you feel that you’re not being given sufficient information? Everything might be organized perfectly but you feel lost because nobody told you where to go. I like thinking that this will not happen because I created a guide to put in the welcome package which will tell people how to use the Internet vouchers and where (and when) they can get food.

So don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s not fun. But despite the fact that I feel I’m doing a really good job so far, I am also pretty convinced that this is not the right job for me. I’m not planning on pursuing it, anyways, this conference is the last big task of a student job I have held since October. But you know how people tend to tell you if you’re talented in an area, that is probably the work you should pursue?

I disagree. And you know why? Because I’m good at event management, but I’m not passionate about it. And I still believe that there’s that one thing out there that will excite me for the rest of my life. That one thing that will make me want to jump out of bed at some crazy early hour because I can’t wait to go to work. I know it’s in the creative direction, and I have a suspicion that it has something to do with branding, brand identity creation, brand design – both the strategic and the graphic/creative part of that field. I wrote my Bachelor’s thesis on this subject and I will start an internship in this field soon, so we’ll see if my suspicion was right. In the meantime, dear readers, I see a lot more post-graduation-confusion coming my way, and therefore your way… it’s good to know that our stories seem to be entertaining you guys, and by the way, can we say a big THANK YOU to our now over 20 followers… we know it’s a tiny number in the blogosphere, but it is hugely exciting to us that there are twenty complete strangers who like reading our ramblings. We’re not going anywhere – stay tuned! 🙂