Recovery

It’s hard not to think about all the things that I could’ve done differently, but now I am in a better place. I am still struggling financially, but at least I enjoy what I do, the people I work with, and have steady cash flow. I wish I could’ve gotten here sooner, and I wish I could tell those people off who insulted me. I might just do that… (I heard that SNL overlooked Stephen Colbert and Jim Carey…) I could just send an email that says thank you for not calling me back so that I could work for a billion dollar company that makes your revenue look like lunch money…I’ll think about it.

Unfortunately, my feelings regarding towards Florida and mostly south Florida have not changed. I think they have actually been validated due to an article published in a Tampa news paper stating the state has agreed to lower achievement expectations based on race — as if the public school system in Florida is anything to be proud of, I guess unless you are from Latin America (http://tampa.cbslocal.com/2012/10/12/florida-passes-plan-for-racially-based-academic-goals/) — and my new job where all the higher level and non customer service positions are interestingly located outside of Florida, and in the Global North.

Regarding the article, which I actually thought was from 2014 and not 2012, this is all I have to say: Not surprising. I will be surprised when decisions are made based on sound empirical evidence and decision-makers stop thinking within a vacuum. I had to turn off a political discussion on the news the other day, attempting to be Meet the Press, because a woman quoted her source as “the internet”… If no one is vying to understand and emulate your educational model, then maybe there might be just a few other educational models out there that can be considered, maybe just a little. I mean, what if they were to consider looking into the educational models of this little unknown area far up north called New York. I hear they have a similar multiracial demographic in one of their smaller cities by the same name. The state might not be as established or well-known as Florida, and certainly people don’t consider it to have anything that could rival major cities in Florida, but I think they might be able to find a little something to work with.

In regards to my job, it is actually in an international affairs related field and I get to use Spanish and French on a daily basis! In fact, I am the only one on the team who speaks French! Also, it’s in the private sector and there appears to be genuine opportunity for growth. Another shocker, the job description was accurate, unlike that last place where I was called Business Analyst but was more Collections Agent/Customer Service Rep. Oh, and by the way, that company’s revenue has taken a hit, they’re overall revenue is only 1/4 of the revenue for my new company, which is in the billions, and I contacted the Department of Labor about them not sending my my COBRA information, so they should be hit with a fine of at least $100/day since my last day. Maybe that’s why the recruiter was checking out my résumé… 🙂 But on to the new job. The pay is low. It’s high for the area and if you went to state school, but as Florida is not the center of the universe from me, I cannot really join my colleagues in gushing over the salary and finally being able to give up their second job. This is what I made in grad school, without a degree, I declined two interviews for jobs that would pay me about $30K more — one maybe in the state of Florida, the other definitely not — but even with the higher cost of living I would still actually have a savings, and now I also have to look for a second job and possible relocation. The jobs I applied to right before I committed to this one appear to still be open, and if they’re still there in a month, all bets might be off…

In December 2014, I was ready to leave Florida and never look back. Neither my parents nor I had the money to fly me back home for the holidays so I was seriously about to spend Christmas by myself in this state that I am indifferent too (when it’s cold and people speak to me in English, its value to me plummets.) I could not do that. I sold the last of my stocks and got a one way ticket home. Right after I bought my plane ticket, I heard from the company I am at now, only a few weeks after I applied. I actually gave then the full résumé, except I left out my certificate in Chinese because it wasn’t really relevant. I played up translation and language skills because that appeared to be the tipping point, but now I am concerned by boss might think that that is my background… Anyways, I was supposed to have the last interview right before my flight, but it got changed, and I went north. I was there for two weeks before I did the last interview and received an offer. I lowered my salary expectations by $5K so I could get in the door, but I was told that there was potential. And the reviews on Glassdoor are amazing! As is the company. The low salary is a BIG issue though. The two companies who would’ve paid me more contacted me for interviews after I had verbally committed to my current job, but I did not have time to wait for a paycheck, and I was also curious to see where this would go. So, here I am back in Florida.

After this month, I will have been here longer than I was at that hellhole that I worked at when I first got here, and even the place I worked at through the temp agency. I met people at both those places who had a warped since of self, and just sometimes I wanted to be like, are you serious!? Now I want to be like who’s the one excelling in fast-paced environments will high revenue now. I’m still thinking about that email… It wouldn’t be beneath me because I am a Scorpio and I am human. I would channel Bill Maher’s smugness in my email. Anyways… My lease is up at then end of May and I have bills to pay. I am not going to pay a premium to sign a short-term lease, so I have to figure out where I want to be and where I can be. I would love to stay with the company, but all the opportunities for growth are elsewhere if I want to overcome the Florida ceiling. I might be able to negotiate staying here for one of the positions I am looking at, but then do I really want to stay here?

Honestly, for $15-$20K more and maybe also an analytical role, I could make it work, at least until I get engaged/married. I connected with someone the other day who is about to get married and he said that he could not raise his children here, and I completely agree. I came here for the weather, the beach, Latin America, cost of living, and to meet a multilingual foreigner (not fresh off the boat; Americanized), but I honestly do not want my children to be subject to the low standards and delusions of south Florida. (I also really want my daughters to go to my middle school/high school.)

UCF, UF, or one of these large Florida state schools was included in some list of public ivies. I found that list and understood why some people actually refer to then as Ivy League schools. But why do they do that? I mean I know why, but they are really serious about it. Always be proud of where you went to school if you must, honestly, I have mixed feelings about most places I attended, but don’t be disillusioned because then you look/sound ridiculous. “Pretentious” was an abstract concept until I got here… I did not go to an Ivy League school just to be clear. I’m always amused when I talk to my friend who went to MIT about the “Ivy League” Florida schools here by their acronyms and she has no idea what I am talking about. I do feel bad about this deep down, somewhere, but it helps me keep things in perspective. Everyone around here knows was MIT stands for, or at least has heard of MIT, but I have to tell her what USF, UCF, FIU, and FAU is, or for fun, I just make her guess… And then FIU has these new entry standards for their graduate school that would actually make her ineligible to apply, lol, while she actually got into Brown and Vandi. When I drive and think about things here, I just go WTF and just move on because my brain hurts after awhile. Cambridge has a cutoff like FIU, but they’re Cambridge, they can do that. When you have degrees that are known to be well transferable outside of the city/locale of your college, you can do that, it’s annoying, yes, but you have that established reputation.

So, so far Florida is more ridiculous than not #FakeorFlorida, but I am still here because I got a job and because of the multilingualism. I think I also might be here because my very self challenges the general population’s perception of who I should be, and it amuses me when I cause them confusion. I think that’s also the same reason why I must leave at some point. Probably just for my sanity: I can’t work with pretentious people, those who embrace the status quo, have a warped sense of self, and believe in strict gender roles. I guess I should also mention that my company is not based in Florida.

Why I am angry

From December 2014:

I had dinner with a friend of mine over the Thanksgiving holiday. My mother doesn’t like her at all, and she very rarely has strong opinions on anything, let alone my friends, especially at this age. My mother never liked my friend, we’ll call her L. My mother has very good reason not to like L and after I speak with her, I constantly ask myself why I am friends with her. I remember one time, L made rude comments about the dishes in the sink and the mess in the car. I said something of course, and am wary about introducing her to other people I know. But also, her family was/is not as wealth as mine, so I played it off as her insecurity, especially since I don’t really care for her opinions. As I think about why I still communicate with her on occasion and even maybe call her friend,  I think it’s because I have known her for so long, and she’s one of my few friends from childhood, outside of school, that doesn’t have at least one kid out of wedlock and aspired to more than just graduating from high school and finding a man. As I think about it further, my mother also has a friend that I don’t like because she insulted me, maybe there is something there as well…

Anyways, L is arrogant and annoying, but also loyal and ambitious. She’s not one you want to talk to when your down, but she’s educated, so you can have intelligent debates with her. She’s also a snob though, but I would be friends with a snob over a bum. She was supposed to go to an Ivy League college, according to her, but she’s doing pretty well without having gone to an Ivy League school, according to her. She thinks she’s quite knowledgeable although most things she says have very obvious counterarguments. She went to a summer program at an Ivy League school, and she would tell me that because she went to the summer program she would undoubtedly be attending that college, despite the fact that the fine print said that the program in no way boosted one’s chances of attending the college. Because my high school was feeder school for Ivy Leagues, did not know the extent of it until I graduated, I felt I had to apply to at least one. If I could go back, I would apply to the other one, which might have actually been a good fit, but weather and location were very important to me (academic rigor was a given). All those years, I kept my mouth shut, again because my saying anything would come across as arrogant because I actually had/could’ve had the pedigree that she wanted. I’m a legacy, sorority and college, but decided not to cash in on that either, because I wanted to be my own person. My children will have no choice, or maybe at least two between myself and my parents.

L is in law school know and had a series of jobs as a legal assistant. I don’t know the extent of her employment history, but I do know she stayed close to home until law school, when she still did not go far. Again she wanted to go to an Ivy League school, but seems well on her way to have full-time employment as an attorney after law school.

I was going to say that I am angry because despite her arrogance, she still manages to have a job and go to law school. However, it’s not that I want her to not have those things. As I think about this, I am actually quite thankful that she did not get into an Ivy League school for undergraduate or law school because NO ONE would ever hear the end of it. Unfortunately, now she wants the responsibility to fall to her children…

As I think about the one job that I wish I never agreed to, I’m also very angry that they’re still employed. I am angry that the heads of the company went to Harvard and are wealthy as the operate a patriarchal organization whose policy mirrors the practices of their home country, which should not be part of the culture of a US company as the goal is to move towards non-discriminatory practices and more of a work-life balance, and not away from it. Then again, the people that I aspire to emulate would have never worked there. So, I guess, they can have that. For most of the people there, that was the highlight, for me it was the lowlight. I said yes for the money.

There are other things that I can be angry about though, like the fact that I have very limited control over what I applied to, recruiters who recruit without understanding the industry and who give false hope, and also being in a sea of people who are under-qualified and are being hired precisely because they are under-qualified.

I worked hard to graduate from some one of the best high schools, I worked hard to graduate from one of the best colleges, and I worked hard to graduate from one of the top graduate schools in its field. Despite this, I got told by someone who was pretty and had long hair that I don’t produce results. Of all the people I had worked with, at much more respected organizations, she was the only to say this, based on her feelings. I feel like the genius on Scorpion who got arrested in Arizona and said that he could not possible be tried by his peers because of his high intellect. I do not go around saying things like that. I never even considered myself to be all that smart. Yet, when people say they’re impressed with my resume and make hints at me leaving for something better, it makes me certain that I am not being hired because I worked to hard. I had an interview once with a global company and the head guy said that unlike most people he was not afraid to hire someone smarter than him. He also was refreshed to see that I had some “normal” retail experience.

So now, I have to find some way to try to make myself appear somewhere between normal and impressive. I leave things off my resume, change the titles, remove certain responsibilities, and leave off some of the languages that I know. I tried full honesty, and it’s no longer an option. I have to make sure I smile, and act more personable and demure. I sometimes wonder if having longer hair would help, certainly in Florida… For certain companies, I have even wrote the college name of my university and not the university itself, so it’s not that obvious and I don’t have to deal with concerns over pay, etc, and all the other stereotypes that come along with it… No one seems to care about my graduate degree though, whose institution is less known that the other, so I was hoping that would create some balance.

And then it’s like, what was I supposed to do? I needed money, so I went to places that I hoped would give me the best ROI, and that I happened to enjoy as well. And now, what am I supposed to do? I tried honesty, full disclosure, and being myself, but then I get people saying things like “we don’t care where you went to school”. The only people who say that are those who do. Just like the only people who say “we’re about meritocracy” are those who aren’t. Think about it: do companies/organizations known for being meritocratic and diverse proclaim it every chance they get, or is it found somewhere on their website, or in their actions?

I’ve been dealing with a recruiter who did not get back to me until I contacted my former boss. She told me to call today, but still no response. I do not want to be a recruiter because I prefer analytical work over administrative work, and prefer not to be in customer/client-facing positions. But I sometimes wonder, if it would be better to have the actual analysts periodically receive and review the resumes, but I guess that’s what a referral is, but I had a referral, I used to work for the company before and was asked to interview for a full-time position even when I did not apply for one. (That’s one of the things I regret, but I now have a better understanding of the recruiting process.)

Most days I feel like I’m suffocating. If I had followed my high school plan, I would have been in law school now, but I wanted to try things, ignoring the fact that most people do not try things. I have made another plan, which of course has to include borrowing more from Uncle Sam, but as I think about how much debt I will have at the end of it, how I would much rather work, and how I had a plan before that got completely derailed, I just wonder if this is all futile. Then despite my best efforts I still continue to breathe. I search for jobs again, and then I stop as I think that they’re just going to hire someone less qualified.