The Dreaded Job Search

Now that we’re back from the beach, it’s time to tackle the thing that is causing most of my anxiety right now – the Job Search. I’ve got the fancy piece of paper that says I graduated, I’ve started paying on some of my student loans, it’s time.

I have a number of anxieties – money being the first. My student loan payments are intense, and I need a job that will cover them. If it doesn’t? I guess I’ll be working a second job. Which is exactly what I don’t want to do.

But I’m also terrified that hiring managers will look at my resume and immediately toss it in the no stack and think that I’m not qualified. I mean, sure, I’m new to the business side of things, but I have marketable skills. I have the MBA. I can do this. I know I can do this. But after five years at the same job, doing the same thing, I’m terrified of the change. But this is what I’ve worked for for the last two and a half years, isn’t it?

It is.

So it’s time to put on the big girl pants and do what I need to do.

I’m off on Friday. It begins then.

PS – I turned 35 last week. It’s time for a new chapter.

An open letter to my sixteen year old self

Dear Self,I wish I could start out by telling you that your life is going to be nothing but wonderful and you’ll never struggle a day in your life. But that’s not life – that’s not reality. You will struggle at times, but I promise that the struggle will be worth it. To see all of your hard work and sacrifice pay off is a great feeling.  
Your life isn’t going to turn out like you expected. It won’t be easy – you’ll even drop out of college at one point. But you’ll find yourself in unexpected places doing unexpected things. If I told you that in 29 years you’d have a degree in biochemistry and an MBA you wouldn’t believe me. But those are facts. Your journey to this place will be strange, but you’ll learn a lot both in and out of the classroom, and especially about yourself. Don’t pass on opportunities just because they might be hard, or not something that you want to dedicate yourself to. Take them all and learn from them. The best lessons can often be found in unexpected places.  

Don’t despair that you still don’t have a boyfriend. Because your first real boyfriend? You’ll end up marrying him. And he’s amazing. Every woman likes to think her husband is the best man in the world, but at least to me, mine really is. He’s stuck by me though so many ups and downs I can’t even begin to count. He genuinely is a good man. Pap was thrilled when I married him, and I know that his approval is important to you.  

I also want to tell you its ok to be yourself. Don’t try so hard to put yourself in a mold just to fit in. Your true friends will like you for who you are, not who you try to be. And once you figure out who you are, don’t stick yourself into another mold to fit in with people like you. It’s ok to be nerdy, its ok to be girly, and its ok to be both at the same time. Don’t let anyone dictate who you are or the things that you like. Be true to yourself, and no matter what happens you’ll always be happy. 

So embrace the nerd, embrace the girl, and don’t worry about the lack of boyfriend. It’ll all sort itself out in the end. 

Love, 

The 35-year old you 

Why I write

I can’t imagine that there’s anyone out there that actually cares what I think, or what I want to write about. I’m not narcissistic enough to believe that what I say will really impact anyone out there. But I put these thoughts out into the ether in hopes that maybe, someday, someone will read them and something will resonate with them. Is that you? Maybe. Maybe not.

I read The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher last night while at work. In it are exerpts from her journals during the shooting of A New Hope. The way she writes… While I enjoyed the book, her writing made me feel inadequate. I mean really, who talks like that? Especially in something that they assume that no one will ever read other than themselves? I’ve read a number of things that do that same thing recently. Blogs I can kind of understand as the whole point of them is for other people to read them. But some of the prose that’s used, the wording, the cadence, just sometimes reads as kind of forced.

One interesting thing I noticed in Carrie Fisher’s writings is that you can definitely see some of the bipolar coming through, they have a bit of a manic-y feel to them. Overall an interesting read if you like Carrie Fisher or are into Star Wars.

I’ve got nothing else today. Vacation started at 630 this morning and my brain is mush.

 

The U2 Concert

Last night was the U2 concert. It was amazing. Mike called it the “once in a lifetime” concert, as who knows how much longer they’re going to tour. You figure they’re all in their late 50s at this point, how much longer can they really keep that kind of touring schedule up?

2017-06-07 21.12.02

Anyway, the show was amazing. At one point I looked across the stadium and thousands of people had the lights lit on their cell phones and for a minute I felt like I was part of something bigger. We were all there for the same reason. It was a beautiful moment. Sometimes it’s just nice to have the feeling that you aren’t alone in the world.

Some random ramblings

Thanks to my husband for talking me through the fog, and thanks to my psychiatrist for upping my dosage of Risperdal, the negative thoughts have mostly subsided. In the meantime, I’ve developed an eye twitch. Also probably anxiety related. But it’s a lot better than the alternative. This is just mildly uncomfortable when it starts up, but it only lasts a few seconds and then goes away. Sometimes it comes back right away, sometimes it’s a few hours later. At one point I actually thought it was gone as it had been so long since it had twitched, but no, on my way home from work it started.

But in talking to both Mike and my shrink I’ve come to realize that despite classes being over and being done with my degree there’s still a lot to be anxious about. I’m going to be entering a new phase of my life. Most likely I’ll be leaving science behind and entering the business world in some capacity. It’s a total change from everything I know and I’ll be going into the unknown. (Although if we’re being honest I’m most definitely not going to miss working night shift and weekends.) Lab work is all I’ve known for the past seven years – eleven if you count undergrad. I’ve been at my current job for five years. That’s a long time by any stretch, but it’s the job that I know. The job that I’m comfortable in. Leaving it and entering something new is both exciting and terrifying at the same time.

There’s a thousand questions – will I work downtown? Will I have to work crazy hours? How will my life change? Will it be for the better? What direction is my life going to go in?

But I’m trying to be optimistic in the face of all of the anxiety I feel about it. I have to believe this will be a change for the better – no more night shift, no more 12 hour shifts, no more stress of making a mistake could kill someone, hopefully more time at home and more with Mike, more time with friends… I have to believe that this will be a good thing.

I think I’ve finally got my resume under control. So I’m hoping Friday to sit down and start applying for jobs. I have to move on this soon – student loans are going to be coming due soon and I can’t afford them on my current salary. And aside from that I’m incredibly not happy at my current job. They’ve known for awhile that I’d be leaving most likely this summer, so they already have my replacement hired and trained. I swear they’re looking for one good excuse to fire me and get me out of there so they don’t have to pay both of us. I voiced this to one of my coworkers who claims that they would never do that if only because morale would drop so much because they’d all know the real reason I was fired. On some level I honestly expected to be fired on Monday, but that didn’t happen so that’s good.

In other news, Mike and I are home improvement city. We had the furnace and air conditioner replaced about a month ago (our old ones were 25 years old and when they came out to service each of them last year the tech told us that they’d last us through that season, but after that they weren’t going to hold out much longer, we just decided to get ahead of the curve and replace them before they blew. We got a nice discount for doing both at the same time, so that was nice). Since then we’ve had a roofer come out and give us an estimate on putting in a roof vent or two, a concrete guy come out and give us an estimate on fixing the concrete pad that makes up the floor of the front porch (it leaks into the basement), etc. (These are all things that were budgeted for before the student loans and desperately need to be done.) Hopefully after this round nothing new pops up and we can go a year without a major project.

I just need to put my life back in order – a new job, get everything that needs to be done around the house done, and settle the hell down.

Bipolar disorder and why anxiety is almost worse

bipolar

Hi, my name is Meghan and I have bipolar disorder. In many senses, I’ve had it a lot easier than others that have my diagnosis. I’ve never been hospitalized. With the right medication, I can lead a relatively normal life. I’ve only had a few major episodes – in high school I had a major bout of depression, during my first attempt at college I had a manic episode with some mild psychosis, between my first and second attempts at college I had a pretty bad mixed episode that was followed by a moderate stretch of depression, during my (ultimately successful) try at college I had a fairly major depressive episode, and since then the episodes have mostly been mixed, and only one could be considered any kind of major.

But right now, my anxiety is through the roof. My husband noticed a trend that I tend to go through this during any major life change – in this case, I just finished my MBA and am looking for a new job. I have a lot more time, and you would think a lot less stress. I’ve been trying to keep busy (see my last post about the socks and the kitchen, but at the end of the day my mind isn’t kept constantly engaged as it once was (which I’ll admit, was part of the impetus for starting this blog). When my mind isn’t constantly focused on something, it starts to run wild. It’s like a small child – as long as they’re occupied everything is fine, but as soon as they lose interest or whatever they were doing ends, that’s it. It’s off to the races. Like that small child, when my mind is left unattended and unengaged, it gets into trouble.

So, my anxiety (and to be honest, I don’t have a formal anxiety diagnosis, but when it quacks like a duck…), when it begins, manifests as negative, intrusive thoughts. And my brain is like a dog with a bone with them – when it latches on to them, that’s it. They don’t go away. Everything from my husband is having an affair and is going to leave me and take the cats, to I’m going to get fired from my job, to someone is going to break into the house when we’re not home and disembowel all of the cats. Academically I know these thoughts are not true. But I literally cannot convince myself of this. To me, they’re actual pieces of my reality, and no amount of rational thinking will make them go away. So what’s the solution? I don’t know. I’m already keeping busy (the few times I’ve been off since classes ended I haven’t had a whole lot of down time, although slow times at work are the worst as it just becomes a constant stream of negative thinking that I can’t turn off). The bipolar part is under control. But I know from history that if this isn’t tempered I could be on the edge of something bad. And that is the last thing I need right now.

As with any mental illness, having bipolar disorder (and just for transparency my diagnosis is bipolar II) means keeping a constant assessment of my mood and thought process. Not getting enough sleep can trigger an episode, getting two much can trigger in the opposite direction. Eating well and trying to stay healthy can be important. Sticking to a routine – bedtime at a certain time, getting X hours of sleep, regular meds morning and night, getting out of the house and being around people, not drinking too much (or at all), not doing drugs, etc. It doesn’t sound like much, but for people with mood disorders, these things can be incredibly important. Keeping to a schedule can be hard for me – I currently work 4 days on, 4 days off, 12-hour shifts job. On those four days on it’s nearly impossible to get anything done – there just isn’t enough time and by the time I get home I typically don’t have the energy to do anything. Getting the right amount of sleep can be difficult too – when I’m working daylight I’m in bed by 9 up by 5:15/5:30 and I’m typically exhausted for the first three-four hours of the day. When I’m working nights, though, I’m in bed by 8 up normally around 2/2:30, and I’m wide awake and totally fine on six hours of sleep. Sure, I’m getting tired by the end of the shift, but nothing that I can’t work through or make it home at the end of the day. But I try to eat right, take my meds on time, get at least some exercise every week, get out of the house and see people other than Mike and my parents. But sometimes the episodes come despite doing everything right.

And it sucks.

But it’s the nature of the beast. And it’s something that those of us that have bipolar disorder – and those in our lives – have learned to live with and deal with as they come. I know Mike’s gotten to be a bit of a pro at this. All the same, when these intrusive thoughts pop up I hate talking about them – I feel like a legitimate crazy person. Mainly because I know that they’re not real, but not being able to convince yourself of that is probably the worst part. So, Mike and I talked about them, and for whatever reason, my brain was more willing to listen to him than it was me (traitor), so for today at least they seem to have subsided somewhat. And I already had an appointment with my doc on Wednesday, so he and I will talk about it then. But for now, I’m taking a win when I can get one.

The Art of Choas… and lots of socks

My life is generally in some state of chaos. Up until the last few weeks I was juggling working, classes, keeping up with house chores, grocery shopping, a husband, and four cats. Classes are over and I’m done with my MBA (hooray! Now I just need to find a job), so that frees up a lot of time in any given  week. So what do I do? Fill it with more chaos!

My husband recently came home from work to find me standing on the kitchen counter with everything that had been in the counters spread all over the counter, table, sink, stove, and in a few cases, floor. When we moved into our house two years ago everything in the kitchen just kind of got put somewhere. Most of the placements didn’t make sense, things that were of the same kind of thing (think pasta),were often found in different cupboards. This, more often than not, led to me buying more of things we already had just because I couldn’t find anything when I’d start planning meals for the week. So what did I do? Rip it all out and put it all back together again. Once the cupboards were done I did the same with the pantry racks, and the fridge. I drove Mike nuts for the better part of three hours as I planned and  then talked to myself as I put everything away again.

Another day was my closet and dresser – I haven’t worn most of that stuff in years. And with me in the process of revamping my wardrobe, I likely wasn’t going to. That turned into an all day ordeal as a number of things I had to try on before I made a decision one way or another. Nothing was safe from my purge. Haven’t worn this shirt in two years? Gone. Vera Bradley bag from 2014? In the bag. Again Mike came home to an absolute disaster, this time in the bedroom, as it looked like the contents of my side of the closet had barfed all over the bed.  And then there was the socks. I should explain that I hate white, cotton socks. All of the socks that I wear on a day-to-day basis are those thinner (not quite dress socks, but not as thick as athletic socks), mostly acrylic socks that have things on them. Doctor Who, Lilo and Stitch, Slytherin, owls, etc. The only white socks I own are no-show socks, and even then only because I couldn’t find them in fun colors or
prints. I wear scrubs to work, and funky socks make me feel like at least a little of my personality is showing through. That being said, as you can see from the picture, I have far too many socks. The picture was taken after my sock drawer regurgitated its contents all over my bed. I finally did the smart thing and got rid of all of the ones that I don’t wear, the ones I don’t like, the ones that have holes in them. I’m still left with over 30 pairs of socks, but progress is progress. Maybe later in the year I’ll start
retiring some of the Doctor Who socks – I’ve had some of them for 2-3 years.

(This is just not necessary. Watson for scale.)

Anyway, now that I’m totally off topic.

I seem to thrive in chaos. I grew up in an Italian household with my grandparents, my mom, my uncle, one aunt, and one aunt who didn’t live there but was always around. It was generally madness. When I went back to school to finish my bachelor’s degree, I normally took 16-20 credits a semester, and worked at least three jobs in a combination of an on-campus job, tutoring, and a retail job where I worked 25-30 hours a week. I was constantly under crazy deadlines, but I made it through in three and a half years with above a 3.0. After college I worked two jobs for a number of months just to try to make ends meet as my first job paid jack but it gave me a lot of really valuable lab experience and skills. About two years into my current job I decided that my bachelor’s in science really wasn’t going to help me climb any ladders, and I could already tell that the kind of schedule I was working was not something I wanted to be doing long-term, so I figured hey, let’s go get an MBA while I work full-time.

My point is that if you don’t like where your life is or the direction it’s going in, there’s always the opportunity to change it and make it better. Get a new job, get a new degree and a new career, move to a new city. Chaos isn’t necessarily a bad thing – sometimes the best ideas are borne from chaos. At least personally I’ve found that when things are chaotic and hectic is where I really challenge myself and test my limits. I refuse to be one of those people who sit around and wait for things to happen to them.

Because in my experience they just don’t happen. You have to work for them and make them happen.

A bit of an introduction

I think it’s common for people in their 20s to assume that they have it all figured out. How to succeed, what they want to do, even who they really are. But I’m turning 35 in a few weeks and I’m just now starting to get it. Sure, I’ve got a wonderful husband, a great little house, a good job, and I just finished up my MBA, but it wasn’t until I started making some real changes in my life that I started to think, “Wow, I’m really starting to like the person I’ve become.”

I’m a nerd. I don’t make apologies for it, nor do I expect everyone to have the same interests as me. I love Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, old school Nintendo, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and on and on and on. But I also like to do things like crochet and cross-stitch. One of my greatest pleasures is making something for someone that they truly appreciate and will either use or display. A lot of my hobbies are sedentary, individual things. I love my cats – we have four of them, all named after scientists. Darwin, Watson, Newton, and Rosalind “Rosie” Franklin. I prefer spending time with them and/or my husband over most people.

But I had a kind of awakening in January. I was hitting the thick of my mid-30s, I was about to finish a master’s degree, and I still dressed, acted, and thought like I was in my mid-20s. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but that’s not who I wanted to be. I had definitely changed over the last 10 years, grown up. Why didn’t I embrace that? Why didn’t I let that person shine through? I was still dressing in beat up jeans, hoodies, and geeky t-shirts. No makeup. My skin was a mess. And I was often mistaken for someone ten years younger, and not in a good way. Mike and I make good money, why was I still dressing like we were broke?

So I resolved to make a change. I signed up for StitchFix because I just didn’t know where to start with my wardrobe. I went to Sephora and had a makeover where they taught me the basics. I started listening to podcasts instead of just the radio. I started eating better, going to the gym (I take my first taekwondo class on Wednesday!). The result? I look my age. I look like I have my life together. I look accomplished. And I feel like a better version of me. I have more self-confidence. The prospect of leaving the science world and entering the business world doesn’t seem quite as intimidating.

I still crochet and watch Doctor Who. I still spend most of my time with my cats and husband, but I’m getting out of the house more with friends.  But I’m more involved in diversifying my interests. I’m not as afraid to try new things or go out and meet new people.

The reason I’m writing this blog is to put my thoughts and experiences down on paper. Sometimes I’m sure they’ll be very stream of conscious-like. Other times I’m sure I’ll rant about some political thing or another. I’ll talk about crafty projects or projects around the house that I’m working on. I’ll talk about my hunt for a new career and the ups and downs of that. I can guarantee that I’ll talk about Mike and the cats. If you chose to take this journey with me, welcome aboard.