It’s Not Where You Start, It’s Where You Finish


Today I had a brief conversation– well, round of phone tag/voice mailing followed by a short phone call when we actually both connected– with a friend of mine.

It’s an interesting situation, as this friend of mine is older than me and much more established and well-known in professional circles and in his career. This friend is also someone who moved to Chicago, but over 10 years ago- so he knows the ropes here.

He called to apologize. He left the nicest, most sincere, honest, and authentic apology voicemail…. It went something like this:

“Hey- it’s me. I’m sorry I haven’t called you or hung out more since you moved here. I didn’t call you because I’m stressed and depressed about my job situation… and I thought I wasn’t fun enough to be around right now. I’m not sleeping well and just kinda crabby. …And then I wanted to hang, but felt embarrassed that I hadn’t called you in so long. So, I’m sorry and let’s do something… Well, damn…neither of us should spend money DOING anything…Ugh.. BUT, we can hang… We should hang. In the next few days…Here’s my schedule for the rest of the week… Call me.”

I listened to the voicemail, and grinned from ear to ear. I even started to giggle a little bit… Not because I thought it was funny or because I was amused by my friends’ current situation, but rather, BECAUSE I GET IT. It was what another friend and I refer to as “knowing laughter”. In all honesty, no aplogy needed AT ALL.

I also had “knowing laughter” and a smile because I LOVE the fact that I have friends that are that honest and authentic… and we can just say that stuff, and talk about it. I don’t know any different, because I obviously only know my life and my friends… but I’m thankful that I have it in just about all of my friendships/ relationships.

It’s interesting and strange (but kinda cool in a “yeah, I feel ya” kind of a way) that my friend and I are in this same situation- of having gone from being in a position of having more work and more offers for work than we know what to do with, to suddenly SEARCHING and APPLYING for work- it feels desperate & pathetic sometimes.

It’s a strange sensation. My search has brought me to Chicago… My friends’ search may take him from it.

….And it’s scary. …And nerve-wracking.  …And at the same time, most of the time we’re careful to be all “Guy Smiley” because that’s part of the game.

For us, it’s a strange feeling to know that we’re doing everything we should be doing (which is different for each of us- we are in different situations and work in different fields), but still feel like not much is happening.

Well, correction… It’s not that not much is happening…There’s  LOTS happening… Just not the ONE BIG THING I want to happen soooo badly!

Chicago is starting to feel like home. My apartment is clearly my place. It is now full of furniture and my pictures and all of my favorite things. Everything has its place. I have my local pharmacy and insurance worked out. I am going to see my new occularist (person who makes/ polishes/ cleans fake eyes) tomorrow. I have plans for most of the week! I have my first Chicago choir rehearsal tomorrow night. I just had a great (I think) phone interview on Sunday. I have a Pilates studio and running plan I like. I am finding favorite restaurants.  I’m having fun with lots of people here- old friends and new. I’m enjoying the culture and art this city has that Nola didn’t have too much of.  I’m already a week and a half into my last semester of grad school- Life is moving along…and I’m loving it.


I am acutely aware of the fact that I’m living on my first-ever student loans (thanks for always paying for school, Mom & Dad!) and savings… That’s scary.

I can no longer check my bank account on the 1st, 10th, 15th, 25th, and 30th of the month to see my 5 jobs worth of paydays direct-deposit. Nope, what you see is what you got, girl… Minus what you last bought.

I continue along my plan- which is 4 job applications per day, minimum… Which is forcing me to become less selective in what I apply for. That’s ok… I just want a job.

I think I’ll have some temporary work at my friends’ sisters’ company soon- at least that will give me some structure and generate some income. I’ve happily been doing odd jobs for friends… babysitting here and there, organizing a closet or kitchen or two… I like just DOING something.

I am just now hearing back from applications I put in at the end of July… Apparently, it takes people 4-6 weeks to sort through applicants…

It’s crazy.

I am much more “instant gratification” oriented. Patience is NOT my virtue.

My friends stress to me that it’s important that I find “the right job” or at minimum, a “right for right now/ a little while job”, and not just take the first crap offer that comes my way. I know they are right, but I also know that might be hard for me to do.

“Princess I always have 5 jobs” is quickly approaching employment panic mode.

But my friends are right… and I think eventually, it will work to my advantage. Just this weekend, when in a phone interview with a Board Member of an organization I’ve applied with, I felt like this guy gave me a pretty good compliment, and also had a true sense of who I am and what I’m about.

He said, “You know, one of the things we really like about you is that you’re super clear on the big, important things. You know who you are, what you like, and what you’re after. In looking at your resume, it’s easy to see that you follow that, and you only do things that you’re passionate about and invested in. You’re uncompromising. It’s a rare quality and it impresses us. …And your passions align pretty well with ours.”

I took that as a good sign.

Of course, I’ll hear in “2-3 weeks if I get a ‘finalist interview’ with the executive board.” (Le sigh)

I am hopeful- but not overconfident. It’s only a part-time gig anyway… But I’d like it. 🙂

Tonight, I was driving home… I had about a 30 min drive from where I was… So, not gonna lie, I nerd-ed out and was listening to the Broadway Showtunes channel on XM…

Singing like a damn fool as I cruised down I-94, thinking about my day, my conversations, and my plan for tomorrow… and the lyric came:

“It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish!”

…And I thought it was a good mantra to end my day with.

It’s tempting to argue with myself that I’m “not at a start”- I’ve been in the workforce for 7 years. But, I am at a new start now. A new beginning. A new place. Almost a new degree. A new phase of my life.

While it’s been almost 2 months here, and I think I’m adjusting to life here well in just about every way other than employment, I AM AT THE BEGINNING. I must try to be patient.

…And whether I find a job in the next two weeks or the next 3 months (please, God, before that!!), when I look back from that “finish” spot of being employed, it’ll all be ok.

…And the same is true for my friend. That’s why it’s good for us to hang. I’ll tell him the stuff I tell myself; he’ll tell me the stuff he tries to reassure himself with… But it just sounds more convincing and believable when you hear it from someone else, especially someone in the same situation.

“It’s not where we start; it’s where we finish!”

Until tomorrow,



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