Grown Up at Eight: A Short Childhood

“I want to move into an apartment because I can make friends there!” I said excitedly as we passed by a large, two-story building.

It was difficult to ignore the smiles and laughter as siblings and friends– kids my age– crowded the sidewalk after school. As an only child, I desperately wished to be like the other children in the neighborhood.

Within two years, that dream came true and it wasn’t what I had expected. Mom and I moved out of our three-bedroom house to a single-bedroom apartment.

I regret what I had said instantly. I miss watching TV on the brown living room carpet and running from there out to the vegetable patch in the front yard. I also miss eating ice-cream with mom under the cool summer breeze. Most importantly, I miss having freedom and a roof over our heads to call our own.

Sacrificing all of that, mom worked long shifts at the salon and resumed the rest of her day helping me with homework. I was too young without anyone else to watch over me, so mom often picked me up from school and brought me to the salon.

It was hard on her, of course, and I am thankful for everything she has done for me. I knew she was a wonderful mom even at that age.

Meanwhile, this was also when I began to hide a lot about myself. Because I was out in public, whatever I said and did became my sole responsibility.

I had to be on my best behavior in front of mom’s clients, who occasionally brought their children over to play. Of course, it also hindered my ability to socialize among my peers.

I never truly fit in. I still don’t.

Because of the environment I was raised in, I’ve lived more than one-third of my life behind a mask. I fear failure and I am afraid to disappoint my mom, who means the world to me. After all, I am her hopes and dreams– the one she has to rely on.

I’ve forgotten how to feel a wide range of emotions and I sometimes don’t know how to think for myself. All of these things are partially why I feel really anxious often– if not daily.

As a woman in her mid-20’s, I share a lot more common with friends ten years older than me. I’ve yet to enter the world and I’m already thinking about settling down and being able to afford a house.

I know these are material things that will allow us to be a little more comfortable, but they are part of a bigger dream. I think I’m starting to figure out what happiness means…

2018 Didn’t Kill Me, It Made Me Smarter

As OSH’s final days loomed closer, I decided to face reality.

Interning at The 7th Magazine was the right experience that I needed as a journalism major. However, there were still some financial obligations to settle at home.

Before I could think, my body moved on its own. I was already on Indeed, scrolling through job listings and ready to submit another application for retail.

I got a call back within a week from most of the places I applied to this time. One interviewer made it clear that I was underemployed and overqualified for the position she had opened.

For some reason, the thought had never occurred to me. My mind was already fixed on making ends meet, I suppose.

So I went home, hoping for another call – and I got it! Wanna hear more about that experience? Read this if you skipped it earlier and scroll down to the second half.

Safe to say, I ended up working as a seasonal sales associate at See’s Candies during the Christmas season. I made sure to sample and help the team sell high quality chocolates to our clients with a smile.

Of course, I’d have a sample, too.

However, there was one caveat. My health declined and almost gave up during December of 2018. Defeated by my own immune system, I would show up to work only to return home with a sorer throat and even more chills.

To my surprise, the store managers and supervisors were always super supportive and understanding. I still thank our team from the bottom of my heart.

I explained that my body was recovering much slower than usual due to stress. I spent most of my paychecks buying groceries for me and my mom.

However, that wasn’t enough. We were beginning to starve and my health wasn’t getting any better for it.

Stick around for my next blog post where we will dive further into this story. In the meantime, click this! Thank you for your support!

2018 Didn’t Kill Me, It Made Me Wiser

Freaking out, I applied to a dozen open positions for writing and in retail. Here’s why and here’s what happened after. I also applied to a couple of internship programs during my days off OSH.

Finally, I got an interview with The 7th Magazine during one of my shifts at the hardware store. I left with nothing but encouragement from the store manager and returned an hour later as an intern for the magazine.

As I came back to the register, people kept asking whether I had found a job or not. “I just got an internship writing for a magazine,” I said. Here’s how it started out.

This experience built character for sure. I started out by learning how to design newsletters while managing my time at OSH.

Just when I was getting into the swing of things, I lost access to the Internet for a month. My laptop, currently on life support as my boyfriend likes to say, has to stay plugged into an outlet with an exterior hard drive. You get the picture.

There was one instance when I submitted content via smartphone at a parking lot just to meet deadline.

I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage a job -under liquidation, mind you- and an internship at the same time, but I didn’t quit. I even got published in an interview with Brendan McGetrick for the Global Grad Show in Dubai in September.

I’ll have to admit that I was starting to feel pretty darn good about myself! Stay tuned for 2018 Didn’t Kill Me, It Made Me Smarter! You’ll find out why.

Time Capsule 1: From Retail to Education

I’m absolutely nervous. I’ll be entering Education as an tutor at an after school program starting tomorrow.

I never thought I’d be in this position at all. For the past few years, I’ve had family and friends encourage me to become a teacher.

How will I know whether or not I like it if I never try it? I suppose that’s what’s making me worried.

I’m not sure about what to expect. But that defeats the purpose growing as a person, I suppose.

I hope to read this in a year or two.

Maybe I’ll scoff or reflect on my life decisions at this point in time. It’s all part of the journey, after all.

2018 Didn’t Kill Me, It Made Me Stronger

I began searching for a job one year ago to this very day, but didn’t get one until last March.

As an inexperienced cashier, I began to familiarize myself in working with the Orchard Supply Hardware team.

At first, I was assigned to work the indoor registers. Soon enough, however, I was called to the nursery.

It was arguably, the most beautiful department of the store – and the hottest. Palm trees rested underneath the shade while succulents basked in the sun.

“I can get used to this!” I thought to myself.

As scheduled, I headed to lunch, but received a phone call the moment I got back. It wasn’t a normal event. The person calling meant it probably wasn’t good news.

He informed me that someone I loved passed away. I only cried once. Despite my boss’s offer to let me call out for the day, I refused and went straight to work.

“Are you okay?” a client asked.

“It’s just the allergies,” I replied.

I mean, what was I gonna do? Ruin her shopping experience?

For the next few months, I felt depressed. During that time, I honed my ability in providing customer service by watching my team help our community.

Not to boost my ego or anything, but people LITERALLY came to visit me. I began to learn so much more about our products and services. I began to feel comfortable.

That is until one evening before I was scheduled to leave for the day. Usually, we locked the gates as the nursery closed. This time, it was shut earlier to than anticipated.

As customers slowly exited the store, we held a group meeting. That’s when I learned about the liquidation.

Freaking out, I applied to a number of jobs and internships. And that’s where I’ll share part two of my story.

How I Got A New Job TWO Days After Losing My Old One

It all started with a phone call. A week before getting my new job, I applied to five other businesses in retail. I was desperately in need of money – pronto.

I received three calls from employers requesting to meet me. Mid-way during the interview, one them said, “I see that your experience is mostly in writing and that you graduated from a university.”

She was concerned for the right reasons. I realized how underemployed and overqualified I appeared from her point-of-view.

As the interview wrapped up, the store manager mentioned calling me IF there were to be a second interview. I left knowing I’d never get a call.

I arrived home in a saddened state, wondering what I had done wrong in my job search. I declined the other interview because I was sick and never got a reply as to what I should do next. Another location called back sometime later.

If I’m lucky, I’ll hear back from one more employer. I texted my friend, H, to keep her updated on the latest news.

Next thing you know, I opened a voicemail requesting an interview. Overjoyed, I texted my friend immediately and confirmed the meeting shortly after.

I arrived 45 minutes early. Overzealous, I know. I watched the time wind down until it was 5 mins before the interview.

As I finally walked around the dark green safety fence that stood between me and the building, I met a shocking revelation. The building was demolished!

Immediately, I walked toward the mall, approaching a man who appeared in to be in his late-20s. He pointed me toward the north end of the plaza.

I followed his instructions thinking he would know better, quickly realizing that his guess was wrong.

An older woman appeared out from one of the exits I happened to pass by at that moment.

“Get to the point, Diane,” I thought to myself.

Disclaimer: Children, please don’t do this! NEVER get into a stranger’s car!

“Excuse me, I’m late for my interview. Do you know where I can find…?” She knew exactly where I had to go and offered a ride in her car.

“What do I have to lose?” I thought, introducing myself as I opened the door and slid into the passenger’s seat.

We exchanged our names, she backed out of the parking spot and sped toward the opposite direction of the plaza, almost flying over the speed bumps and terrifying a pedestrian if only she had decided to drive any faster.

The vehicle came to a halt in front of the location. Relieved, I thanked her and didn’t waste time rushing to get my interview over with.

I arrived 15 minutes late and stood there as I watched a woman, who I assumed was the manager, work through a relatively healthy line of customers.

As the last person walked out of the door, I went over to introduce and explain myself. We were expecting three more people for a group interview.

After some time had passed, she began to ask me a series of questions that leaned toward hiring me. About an hour had passed when I learned that my assumption was right.

Well, also because no one else showed up for the interview, but I’m not complaining!

Late and extremely fortunate, I got the job along with a very good story to share with my friends!

I will continue this story on my next blog post! Keep in touch!

One Example Of Why Shopping on a Budget Is Actually A Bad Idea

Finding the perfect set of clothes can be pretty overwhelming. As you enter (insert the name of any store you frequent), it’s easy to get lost in all of the colorful options surrounding you within the maze that is the store layout and the long lines that make you think twice about what you’re buying. Within all of this lies one single trick question: are you really familiar with the production process behind the clothes you’re wearing right now?

No, really. Do you really know? Well, I certainly don’t. I just bought two coats from ZARA without much thought about the store’s ethics. As I walked out of the door, I can assure you that I was pretty happy considering how well my clothes fit my personal style. My size is extra small and I usually have to take a lot of time when considering an investment. I often think about the ratio of quality to cost and how badly I need the product (I intentionaly typed it that way). Honestly, I can’t afford quality clothes after a certain price point! I’m only in my early 20s and I mean, wearing clothes is pretty important!

You’re probably nodding your head in agreement, thinking same. Great! Well, I was on my way to the car and couldn’t help but raise a few questions after reading the clothing tags. And by a few, I mean A LOT. Are there sweatshops in Morocco? I Googled it and found this. Turns out, news had spread that the clothing brand had supposedly suffered backlash after reports of unfair labor. And I must warn you, the following list of questions is not meant for the faint-hearted:

Is there really a brand out there with a clean history? One that’s affordable and isn’t one of several options to choose from at a mall? How much money is reasonable enough to spend on clothing? Does the money I spend guarantee that the employees who make my clothes get treated fairly say, if I shopped at Nordstrom instead? Am I paying to promote an unsafe work environment? How much of the stuff online is true? What if there are competitors in the fashion retail industry who are out to ruin someone else’s reputation? How much thought does the average consumer put into this and do they really care? Do YOU really care? These thoughts rattled my mind as I drove home leaving me feeling overwhelmed.

What’s stopping you from returning them? You might ask. I admit, I love the clothes that I bought and I still plan to keep them. But will I shop at ZARA again? Yes, though I won’t be as enthusiastic about it. Will I feel good about it? No! However, I will definitely reconsider my options the next time I shop for clothes and I really need to do more research before doing so. I can imagine Justine Leconte shaking her head in disapproval. Am I the only one who thinks about this? Am I stuck in a perpetual cycle!? Please comment to answer a question (or two). Let’s get enlightened together, shall we?