Career Cupid: Tips on Living Happily Ever After on the Job

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It’s an all-too-familiar feeling. The restlessness, the conviction that there has to be something more – or at least something better – out there. Somewhere out there, the ‘real thing’ awaits, the love of your life, a career to bring fulfillment, happiness and financial independence.

For Sally, the quest for the love of her life began when she was 12 years old. Her next-door neighbors, the Petersons, had planned an evening out, but their usual babysitter was sick. Would Sally be willing to fill in? At first, she was so excited. Here was somebody who could see that she was mature enough to accept such a huge responsibility.

Standing in the Peterson’s big, open kitchen, Sally felt some apprehension mix with her excitement. The kitchen seemed so similar and yet so different from her own. Still, she was eager to get started. She could feel that she was on the edge of something, but that something would have to wait while Mrs. Peterson ran down the list of seemingly endless instructions. Here were the emergency numbers, here were the feeding and bathing instructions, here were the bedtimes and the TV times and a few games. Feel free to help yourself to a snack. Finally, they were gone, and Sally was in charge.

The baby was easy enough to take care of, but little Timmy Peterson was a terror. He ran Sally ragged. He wouldn’t eat what Mrs. Peterson had left. He wouldn’t take his bath, he wouldn’t calm down, and he certainly wouldn’t go to bed when it was finally time. Sally was so frustrated that she almost quit twice. For the first time, she had begun to realize that having a job wasn’t all glamour and excitement. It took hard work and dedication.

Somehow she made it through the night. She was so relieved when Mr. Peterson walked her to the door and counted out her pay for the night. As she put away the stack of HER crisp dollar bills, she felt so responsible, so grown up. Here was something that was uniquely hers. Money that she’d earned herself that she could spend on anything she wanted. On that magical night she felt that she had become an adult, and every job from that moment forward would be an attempt to recapture in some way that first wonderful feeling of accomplishment. Counting and recounting her money for the fifth time, Sally dreamed of the babysitting empire that she would build.

Young romance is fickle though, and before long, she grew disillusioned with babysitting. She wanted better pay, and a job that would leave her Friday and Saturday evenings free.

She thought she’d found it with a fast food restaurant. Better pay, and free sodas and cheeseburgers whenever she worked. She was in love again. And again, reality set in. The customers were impatient. Her manager wouldn’t give her the Friday and Saturday nights off that she requested, and every night she went home smelling of grease and feeling disgusting.

A series of jobs followed. Each had their benefits, and each time, Sally thought that here might be the one she was looking for, but each had their drawbacks as well, and it seemed that every time the drawbacks outweighed the benefits before too long.

In college, Sally once again thought that she’d found the one. Her job in the school library was everything she thought she was looking for. She thought about changing her major to Library Science and dreamed once again that she had found the one. She’d been so happy doing the work that she hadn’t paid any attention to the politics and rumors. She lost her love before she even realized it.

Playing the field had seemed fine while she was in school, but once Sally graduated, she started feeling pressure from her family and herself to find a nice job and settle down. Her mom kept trying to fix her up, sending her resume to the gentleman she met in the store or to that nice woman who manages the local bank branch.

Dutifully, even hopefully, Sally would go out on the interviews that her mother arranged for her. They rarely seemed right. Her mother’s ideas of Sally’s career were obviously very different from Sally’s own ideas. Eventually, Sally went to a match-making service, an employment agency that sent her out on some interviews and a few temporary assignments.

Sally liked the variety, and she was starting to develop a sense of what she did and didn’t want from a career. Things still weren’t clear to her though. Sally still wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.

For a while she considered going back to school. It had all seemed so much easier then. There’d been less pressure to find the career of her life. It was acceptable to just enjoy herself and experiment with different types of jobs. Sally wasn’t sure what she’d study if she went back though. And, she knew that going back to school would just be delaying the inevitable.

A few years passed. Eventually, Sally stopped trying so hard to find that one perfect career and just decided to enjoy each opportunity for what it had to offer. Somehow, as soon as she stopped worrying so much, everything became easier. One of those temporary assignments she went out on turned out to be really challenging and interesting and rewarding. Here, for the first time, was a job she could see herself spending the rest of her life doing. When the company made on offer to bring her on full-time, she happily accepted.

It’s been 15 years now, and every day brings something new to Sally’s relationship. Every day, she’s excited to get up and out of bed. The love of her life was out there, but it wasn’t until she stopped looking so hard that her Career Cupid was able to make the connection for her.

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