With Thanks.


Well, I’m just about a week shy of “6 months in Chicago”…. And I am so, so, happy to say that before I reach that landmark, I have the ability to say, “Yeah, I’m employed!”

Before I began writing this post tonight, I quickly scrolled though all of my previous posts to make sure I hadn’t already used the title that “felt right” for my thoughts today. I came across THIS POST from August 9… literally when I had been in Chicago for about 2.5 weeks… at that point, I was already COMPLETELY frustrated and exasperated by my job hunt, and honestly a little insulted that I had hadn’t been offered a great job yet.

A little narcissism? Perhaps. Probably mostly just naivety, having never had applied for a job before. Either way, I “worst case scenario” expected 6-8 weeks of job hunting. Nearly 6 months? Completely unimaginable.

I am thankful I have the ability to laugh at (I mean, of course, WITH) myself in hindsight.

While I do NOT wish to have the journey of these last 6 months again ANYTIME soon (preferably, not EVER AGAIN), I have learned and grown tremendously during this time. My life is now completely different than it was 6 months ago, when I was enjoying the beach on the Gulf Coast with my dearest friends, contemplating “a little change”.

This “non-crier” has cried and sobbed more times than she cares to count or admit to. …and more importantly, I’ve learned that sometimes, that’s ok… and even can be good and/or “normal”.

This “Brene Brown evangelist” has learned experientially about facing the “not good enoughs” and has been challenged to be authentic and vulnerable, practice what she preaches, stay true to herself, her ideals, and her vision… Even when that means I kinda wanna crap my pants, take all that idealism back, or just hide in my blankies for days. (Still a work in progress, clearly)

This girl who is really hesitant to “really” let people into her world has done just that, particularly with 3 amazing people in my Chicago world who were gonna be there whether I welcomed them in or not, because that’s just what “real friends” do… and they made sure this girl got that message, loud and clear… via text, phone call, voicemails when I wouldn’t answer, visits, lunch, coffee, cocktails, job leads, new friends/ networking, good advice, local scoop,  a card thrown under the door, or something I could help them with (because I’m much better at helping other people). I never “name drop” on my blog, for many reasons- including: forgetting amazing people, hurting people’s feelings, not respecting people’s privacy, etc, etc… But, I’m gonna go ahead and violate my own rule for once. There have been a million awesome people- friends from New Orleans, new friends in Chicago, and dear friends who live all over the U.S. and the world that have been super encouraging, loving, kind, and supportive, especially over the last 6 months- and I thank you ALL…. But Tim, Jodee, and Pauli- I love y’all, and thank you sooo soooo sooooo much. I am so very lucky to have you in “my circle” in my new city. 🙂

This girl, who for years taught and preached to her students about living a life that mattered and following your gut and your heart, and doing things you believe in, living with passion, and being true to yourself was seriously challenged! On more than one occasion I thought, “Man, this SUCKS following my own advice!” But if there is one thing I hate, it’s a hypocrite- so I’ve done it.  I don’t expect that most of my students listen… but I’ll say this: Kiddos- it’s hard as F*!K! and it’s scary and uncomfortable. …and I’m not done, so I’m not sure yet… but I think it’ll be worth it. But it’s not for the faint of heart. However, I hold out hope that doing something that means something (if even only to me) is worth it. Despite moments of CRAZY doubt, I am THANKFUL I turned down the positions I did. I’m thankful for the applications I didn’t even fill out, because I knew it wasn’t a fit for who I am. And again, I’m thankful for those people who helped me remember those things in moments where it would have been way easier to “sell out”. It’s hard to keep a long-term vision when you’re in a short-term crisis…

On that note, I am so thankful to Nora, my friend’s sister, who got me some temp work with her company, which very well may have saved my sanity and certainly eased some of the pressure on my bank account while I kept looking for something that was the “right fit”. I never realized how much of my identity was wrapped up in going to work until suddenly the girl with 5 jobs had none. The task did not matter- while it may not have been my life’s grandest ambition, I was SO HAPPY to have work to go to. Thanks so, so much!

I am thankful for music, which yet again, swooped in to feed my soul in a rough time. Finding places where I could sing and where my “inner music nerd” could nerd-out with other like-minded folks was incredible. Choral music feels like home to me. It’s a language I always understand and place that lets me breathe and be myself. Paul French, OLMC, William Ferris Chorale, Paul Caldwell, and Windy City- a debt of gratitude.

My love of music led me to my undergraduate studies in music therapy, and from my music therapy days and connections made there, I made a friend and found a professional colleague that helped me find this job. Lesson for the kiddos: Never burn any bridges, make and build professional contacts, and network, network, network. I’m thankful for old friends, Kim and Sarah, who introduced us, and thankful for new friends and new working relationships… and for someone (Erin) willing to go on the good word of others and resume to help a sister out. 🙂

I am thankful for my family and friends back home, who showed their support in so many ways during this very rough period. I am thankful for my former professors (shout out to Dr. M) and my classmates from grad school who really helped me to make connections here in Chicago and helped to make me feel welcome.

Although it sounds cheesy, I am thankful for my faith and for church- which can be incredibly sustaining in trying times. I am glad it seems that my “Saturday” is over for now… but I am glad to know that whether I am in a “Saturday” or not, I will be loved and sustained.

I am thankful that since Monday night, I’ve slept without a problem and the nightmare of trying to use my debit card and there being no money in my account has stopped happening.

I am thankful that on Monday afternoon, when I walked out of an interview, having accepted a decent job offer that I felt good about, I sat in my car in a parking lot and shed a tear or two out of joy, happiness, validation, and extreme relief… Before I could even call anyone.

I have a job.

…and to the person that told me “if you don’t have a job before the holidays, just count yourself out until March”, I would just like to say, “DUDE, IT WAS JANUARY 14th!”

Hahahahaha! Kidding; kidding! (sort of)

I may suck at this job. I may be completely terrible at it- I’ve never done it before. But, I’ve done (and found success at) jobs I’ve never done before already… I am excited about the new challenge. I know there will be tough days as I learn policies and programs and how things are done; as a staff adjusts to me and I to them. I have a new schedule to figure out and adapt to… and my alarm will go off at 7:30am… Yikes!

But all that stuff is my NEW challenge.; my new adventure; my new mountain.

And I feel ready for it.

I should start my new job in a week or two, just about 6 months behind the “Tara’s perfect life” schedule.

Better late than never, right? 🙂

I have friends currently beginning their job searches, or still in the middle of one that is taking much longer than they expected to. All I can say is, “It’s hard; I get it… but hang in there!”

In the words of my Gram, “Trust. Soon come.”

I KNOW that’s way easier said than done…

But for tonight, I am thankful.

-TM 🙂


One response »

  1. Congrats, Tara! I’m so thrilled that you moved to Chicago. I’m certain the struggle will be worth it and you’ll “make it” in the big city. Much ahead!

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