Five Years

I have not been consistent with keeping up this site. Several reasons for that I suppose. Life gets hectic, laziness, and my ping-pong table of a brain forgets that I actually have a blog. As it goes most times I am minding my own business when suddenly I have a memory that reminds me of this site. I log in, and then I begin to peruse my former thoughts. I critique my grammar and sentence composition; and wonder why in the hell I use so many commas? This time, same process but something caught my attention. A date. My first entry was in July of 2014. 2014???!!! Holy hell, that has been FIVE years. FIVE years is a long time. I began to read and crawl inside that head of mine five years ago.

Five years ago I was working full-time as a labor and delivery nurse. I was single, with not a single prospect in sight. Dating was an interesting and complicated activity. We can discuss that at another time. I had four children, three of which were teen boys. The oldest was just beginning college and he had absolutely zero idea what to do with his life. Ironically, I think he and I were in the same place now that I think of it. My little girl was six and did not have a care in the world. As long as she could play Frozen on repeat all day, the girl was content.

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The first professional family photo of the kids and I; Mother’s Day 2014

I was renting my second of three homes at that time, and we lived in a 100 year old home that was decent, but in a terrible neighborhood. It was what I could afford. In the 18 months leading up to that my second husband and I split, I moved from our home to a rental, and then with my parents, and then “the yellow” house. Things were not easy. They were a struggle, but I was gaining momentum. It felt to me that things were finally starting to get a little better, slowly. The kids and I were settling into this new “normal.” We were content as our little family of five. We did not have much, but we had each other.

My middle son at the time was 16, and loved to play baseball. He had played the game since he was barely four. He played all the local teams, and even went outside of our little community to play for a competitive team. It was not a traditional travel team, but definitely a step higher than our local Boys and Girls Club. From there, he developed his skills as a very proficient pitcher. He was encouraged to try out for one of the “premier” travel teams. He did, and he made the team. I was so excited and happy for him. There was a catch. Premium teams, come with a premium price. My nursing salary did not afford much outside of the basics. It was so bad, that a few months prior I was buying food from the hospital cafeteria on my badge just to have breakfast food in the house. I was finally digging out of that when my son made this team. They needed something like $4500……at least that is what I remember. It may as well have been $45,000, because I didn’t have $45 extra to spend.

We talked, and this was something that he wanted. I told him that I was not going to be able to subsidize the entire thing, and we would have to get creative. He would have to put his money toward this as well. WE were in this together if that is what he wanted. I walked away from my conversation, and unbeknownst to him I broke. I broke down and cried. I was angry, scared, sad and disappointed all at once. Angry that I couldn’t just write him a check because of all of the shit that had gone down over the past few years. I was scared that I would not be able to come up with what I committed. Sadness for dragging my kids through the messy parts of life and disappointed in myself for letting certain things happen that led to these events. I was having flashbacks of my own childhood, and the struggles that my mother faced raising my sister and I. My biological father was no where to be found, and never provided any support for me. We were poor. There was not extra money for anything. I knew it. I was the oldest, and I saw my mom struggle and sacrifice to keep me clothed and fed. I felt guilty for that even as a child. I never wanted to ask for anything. I did not want to be a burden. This is just my personality; I am still the same way.

In that moment, I had a flash back of when I made the dance team in middle school. I was shocked and so incredibly excited. I remember being so scared to tell my mom, because I knew there were excess costs involved. I was also 14 years old and a bit deceptive at times. I remember knowing that if I made the dance team I would need a pair white cotton sneakers. Most of the girls had Keds, with their little blue label on the back heel. There were some that did not. I wanted to wear those shoes with the label so bad. I lied and told my mom that they were “required” as part of our uniform. I am not sure if even to this day, she knows that. I do, and I have always felt bad that I acted so selfishly……however, I was 14. She bought them. I have no clue what she had to sacrifice to make that happen. However, she made it happen and I wore those bright white Keds with pride.

That memory sparked something inside of me, a fire that I had not felt in ages. I knew at that moment that I needed to change something. My life up to that point could be described as “insane.” It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, but expecting a different outcome. Something like that at least. I did not know how, or why, or what I was going to do to make the change but I was going to do it. I could not go on just hanging by a thread.

I opened my computer, and googled “how to make a resume.” I knew the basics, but several years had passed since high school business classes when my last resume was typed on a typewriter. I created the best resume I could; researched something called LinkedIn, and created my profile. I submitted my professional work experience up to that point, tossing  myself in to what seemed an abyss of unknown origin. I did not understand or even know what a CV (Curriculum vitae) was, or even what half of the companies said they were looking for. I was a nurse, after all. All of this other stuff was just foreign to me. I was determined however to find a job in pharmaceutical or medical device sales. Going back to the “I am nurse” mentality for a moment. I was so stuck on my accomplishment as a nurse, I thought who wouldn’t  want to hire me.

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Night Shift Shenanigans

It is comical to me now. I want to say “oh my dear grasshopper, you have so, so much to learn,” as I think back to my mindset five years ago.

Ignorance is truly bliss, I am convinced of this to some degree. It has saved me, literally throughout my life journey. I am ok with ignorance to some extent.

I started throwing out resumes like candy in a homecoming parade. I did not care who picked them up, I just needed someone, anyone to pay attention. I finally got a couple of calls. I had interviews. Finally! One for a small device company based in St. Louis. The second an entry level sales position for a pharmaceutical company. I aced my telephone interviews with both companies, and made it to final round interviews at their hiring events.

I needed a suit. I was a nurse remember. I did not wear suits, or shirts, or pants with buttons, or dresses for that matter. Recall, I had zero dollars and suits are expensive. However, I knew I must dress for the job I wanted, even a bit nicer. I had to impress. So, I went suit shopping…..which meant I also needed suitable shoes. At that time my shoes were either tennis shoes or something that you would likely wear in a strip-club. I did not own anything in between.

I wound up at Nordstrom Rack, which seemed ridiculous at the time. I was thinking this is Nordstrom, I do not belong here but I needed a suit and shoes. So, I had to suck it up. I wound up with a Black Calvin Klein one button suit coat, and knee length skirt. I also found a nice button up white blouse, and a sensible pair of shoes. Total cost, $375. I did not have a credit card, and I had less than $200 in my bank account, until payday. I knew I had overdraft protection on my checking account. I made that purchase knowing that I did not have the funds, and I would be charged a $35 fee. I did not care. I absolutely could not care at that moment. If I had, I would have left that store empty handed.  I had to push that out of my mind.

I remember getting dressed for the one of the interviews saying I better get an offer because I just overdrew my account….I even left the tags on the clothes just in case I did not get an offer. I was going to return them. I knew I had one shot, one opportunity. As a side note, that is when the song from Eminem, “Lose Yourself,” became my pre-game song. To this very day when I have to do something hard, or uncomfortable I blast that song over and over.

I had my interview with the pharma company. I would be tasked with selling a drug that was the size of a horse pill, literally, that a patient had to take 3-4 times a day and it had a patent running out in 6 months. My nurses brain immediately began to calculate the opportunity being presented.  I wondered how compliant patients would truly be, and began thinking that this position probably would not be something that I was willing to take a risk on. I accepted a final interview, however I was not feeling confident that this was a great opportunity.

The  medical device company was a series of 6 interviews on the same day, with different people….It might have been 4, but I really feel as if there were more. It was this revolving door of people with different titles, backgrounds and questions. They were all different, but somehow the same. They were hiring this “new and exciting” position and I would be the first. I would pave the way for those hired after me. I would potentially be promoted to lead Clinical Applications Specialist and manage my own team. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it?

I was offered the job at the medical device company two hours after that painful interview. I accepted, and cancelled my final interview with the pharma company. I put my two weeks notice in at the hospital I had called “home” for nearly 10 years. That day was the beginning of five years of figuring out who I am and where I am going professionally. It let me here, to “today.” This opportunity also allowed me to help my children out with things that were “extra.” It was a good thing for my little family.

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Celebrating Mom’s new job September 2014

That leap of faith let me to experience things that I never imagined possible. I was afforded the opportunity to learn new things, push myself harder than I thought I could. I got to travel and meet so many people. I learned things about myself that I did not know. Doors were opened to new opportunities. I stayed with the company for about a year, until I was recruited to move back to healthcare. I was offered the option to not travel, and make even more money than I was. It was a no-brainer. I took the job. Again, I was relearning, and experiencing things I have never experienced. I was able to continue to build that resume. I started back at school to pursue my MBA. Once gain the tide was changing. I found myself in a new organization, doing a similar role. I still however kept looking for a position to put me back on the device side of things. You see, when I was working that first device job, I had that personal satisfaction that I had felt when I was a nurse. I felt useful, and challenged. I wanted that again. I kept looking.

I left that job about 8 months ago after nearly two years. I was not happy. I was “good” at my job and I feel that I was appreciated by my team. Something was missing. My soul was literally empty. I decided to go back to patient care working in labor and delivery again. I buckled down to focus on finishing my MBA  and just get “back to basics.” Part of me thought maybe I was giving up, and maybe a corporate gig just was not in the cards for me. Maybe I was trying to force something that just was not supposed “to be.” I decided, with the help of my husband (yes, I remarried in the midst of all of this; that is a story for another day) that I could take this step back.

©2018 James Bitz Photography www.jamesbitzphotography.com
©2018 James Bitz Photography http://www.jamesbitzphotography.com

I stopped applying for jobs in when I left in October. I was so tired of all of interviews, resumes, calls, application submissions. I was tired of getting to final interviews during this time, only to be told that the company is being sold, or they hired someone from a competing company, and they are now on-boarding a highly sought after physician. I was done. I was exhausted mentally, and I had counted nearly 100 submissions of my resume, since 2014. ONE HUNDRED. To me that is a lot. I have no idea what most people do, but it was a huge number to me. I saved a file of all of the “NO’s” that I have received as well. The number totals about 50. I began to save the rejection emails. It sounds sadistic, I know. I had a rationale. It was a two part rationale: I wanted my children to see how many “no’s” it takes to get a yes when they finished their education. The second, “no” motivates me to keep going.

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Back at the bedside after 4 years

So, one day as I am going about my “new plan,” I get a message from a recruiter about an amazing opportunity. Let’s be real for a moment, they are all “amazing opportunities.” A recruiter’s job is to sell you on an idea, on a job possibility. I had been down this road before. I had taken jobs, and interviewed for them and even turned down jobs. It is a crap shoot. I messaged him back, and we set up a time to chat.

I liked what this new recruiter had to say, but I was skeptical. Again, I have traveled this road before. I no longer needed a million dollars to fund my son’s baseball obsession, and I was no longer struggling to make ends meet. I had options. Still, I was willing to listen to what Mr. Recruiter had to sell me.

That was the last week in January 2019. This is June. Literally almost 6 months later. In the last 6 months my husband and I have sold and bought a house; renovated our forever home, traveled, had a second kid graduate from college and I am in my last weeks of my Master’s program. That is a lot of stuff. Still, I began to learn more and interview for a position that seemed to marry nicely my unique professional experience with what I wanted to do.  My skill-set I have learned is very “unusual.” I heard this over, over and over again during the last few years. At first, I thought this was something that should make me stand out and therefore, I am a great candidate. Looking back, this is not the case. I am certain this background cost me in opportunity. I realize now that this was a blessing in disguise.

Ironically I had peace during this entire process. It was a peace from knowing that what ever happens, I will be fine. Our family is fine. Yesterday, after almost 6 months, 8 interviews, two presentations, and a trip out of state I received a final offer for what I will call my “dream” job. THIS is what I had been searching for since that summer in 2014. I was not ready. It took the past five years, the people that invested in me, the relationships that I have made and the things that I learned to get to this place; this opportunity. I had to learn, grow and stretch myself to get to this place.

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The day I got my written offer, June 2019

I know this story is long, and if you made it this far….THANK  YOU. Do not give up. Do not get down when people tell you that you are not good enough, or skilled enough. Let that push you harder. Dig deeper and hold on. It is a bumpy ride. Seat belts are definitely recommended if you do not want to be tossed on the side of the road!

I am embarking on one of the most exciting times in my life, and I am scared out of my wits. I want to succeed. I want to make my mark and build the legacy that I have wanted to for so long. I have so much to learn, and it will be hard on some days. That is fine by me. The time will “fly.” Just like these past five years have flown by.

 

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