Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Back to square one, or how Sam defeated her bruised ego.

So, I have to admit something...

I'm going back to work for Wal-Mart. (I can hear the gasps and tongue-clicking from here).

It came time to be brutally honest with myself about the occurrences of the last couple of years, and it wasn't pretty.

I started my business back in 2006, not because I had a passion for it, though I do like to travel (it was a business marketing wholesale travel packages), but because I was mad at the stupid store. I felt betrayed at the time, not that it was anything personal.

Okay, here's the breakdown:

In January 2001, I was a junior in college, and I started working at Wal-Mart for no other reason than to make some dough. Back then, I was working another part-time job in school-age child care (which I really liked), and was going to school full-time. Then I picked up the Wal-Mart job, a full-time position. I was very quickly burned out, tapped out financially, and decided to use this as an excuse to quit school instead of the store (which, looking back, was the biggest mistake I've made yet).

By November that year, I was a department manager, which was another horrid mistake. I became emotionally involved with this place. It was definitely a disillusioning experience.

Every time I tried to step down from the position, my very persuasive and charismatic store manager would talk me off the ledge. This happened at least twice. Finally, I acquired a full-time job at a bank as a teller, and as the schedules conflicted, I was released from being a department manager.

I continued on at the store as a sort of "odd job" girl, doing this and that, staying busy because I could cover certain things for other department managers when they didn't have time and because that store is fairly psychotic on a daily basis anyway.

After being at the bank for about a year and a half, I got into the cash office (or accounting dept.). Finally, finally, I was in a position I actually liked. Soon after, I quit the bank. I was in the office for over two years when they switched the whole program and a number of people were going to be moved out to the floor. I was devastated. If I didn't take a part-time position, I would have to go back to the floor or as a cashier or as a customer service manager. Ugh!

This little opportunity came along around the same time to run my own business from home. Looking back, I was looking for any excuse to quit that place, and I took it.

Look, I liked the product I sold (and can still sell if I choose). I thought there was a lot of opportunity there. But the truth was that the organization I was with focused nearly all of their attention on network marketing (getting people to start their own business) instead of retail marketing. Even the business to business marketing was annoying. Then that organization decided to drop that product altogether and go with something else (a very quick way for the founders - with thousands under them - to rake in millions - and we're talking a matter of days). It was an unethical situation.

I tried going it alone for a while, and I tried and I tried and I tried. It was so draining, and I didn't want to admit some horrible failure. But that's what it was. So here I am, all this time later with nothing to show for it.

I shredded my 720 credit score (God knows what it is now). I ruined my work history. I lost my car. My relationships have been strained to the breaking point. And it ended up being all for nothing.

So, here's where I got honest with myself:

I finally asked myself what it was I really wanted. Absolutely positively. In very certain terms.

What do I want? What do I want?

1. I want to travel. That's why I started that type of business. So, that's definitely on the list. I want to go everywhere (I'm imagining Tina Fey saying "I want to go to there".) Here I am saying, "Let's work on that". Paris, Dublin, Goa, Buenos Aires, not to mention a ton of other places. They're officially on the list.

2. I want to write. Ever since I was a little kid, I knew that's what I wanted to do. I've been incredibly inconsistent with it (and that I will definitely work on), but ultimately, I keep gravitating towards that. So, I'm structuring a novel. In the works, so check.

3. I want to find a way to be of service. I'm coming up with little ideas that will hopefully sprout into bigger ideas. My mom mentioned a few months ago that she was disappointed in herself that she didn't instill a sense of duty when it came to volunteering. When we were kids, she was going through a lot, and I think we still turned out relatively decent. I don't hold it against her. But I think that I will feel a lot more fulfilled when I'm making a contribution to society other than paying taxes, voting, and showing up for jury duty.

4. I want to take off the depression weight. At least thirty pounds of it. Yuck! How did I let this happen? Oh well. I can do it. I've always noticed that when I'm happy, I'm smaller. I'm guessing this has to do with a huge number of hormones that I don't know the names of, but they all probably have at least six syllables.

So, after an extensive job search that was both depressing and disappointing, I think I found the right job at the right time. And ironically, it's at Wal-Mart.

There was an opening in the accounting office at the store I used to work at. Apparently they are having a hard time finding people who don't lose large amounts of money.

As much as I dreaded the thought of going back, after the interview process and all the anxiety that comes with applying for a job I left because I thought I had something better, the people I used to work with are welcoming me back with open arms.

I know. It's Wal-Mart. There can't be a huge lesson learned from there, and in all honesty, I don't plan on staying forever. But I feel very lucky that this happened. Is there some kind of cosmic force at work. I'm not holding my breath, but I am sighing with a sort of relief.

At any rate, I'll have plenty of writing material.

So, I'm starting at square one. This is Sam starting over. Better I got through my mid-life crisis now. I feel like the rest of my life awaits. And instead of being overly depressed, I'm ready to get going, wholly optimistic, and, I think, in a frame of mind that is finally being honest with me.

I don't know if my story will be one of those inspiring pieces that will spread by word of mouth until I'm relatively famous for being a prodigal Wal-Mart worker (God forbid). But I do know that I feel like a ton of weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

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