My First MeetUp.com Meetup

My very first #meetup (I survived!) Why you should try it too! via J Seeks Joy

One of the things I’ve been striving to do is meet new people and put myself out there. I just finished Brené Brown‘s Daring Greatly (if you aren’t following Brené’s work on vulnerability and shame, you should for sure seek it out! She’s amazingly human and her research is wonderful) and you guessed it, the point of this particular book is to dare greatly through taking off your armor and being vulnerable.

I came across Meetup.com through my Google searches for a book club and found that there were TONS of meetups in Pittsburgh for tons of different interests. After looking through what felt like millions of groups, I decided on a 20s and 30s social group for women, which was not a book club at all. Ha! I saw that they were having a happy hour meetup the next day downtown.

At first, I immediately dismissed the idea of going. “Well, that was a terrifying couple of minutes!” Then, I remembered that my schedule was open that evening. Plus, I’d been to the restaurant before, so I knew where I was going. And I’m supposed to be on this journey where I try new things and put myself out there… You know. That thing. Right. *straightens tie, clears throat*

I talked myself into going, reminding myself of all of the GOOD it would do me, and spent the next 24 hours or so nervously anticipating meeting up with a bunch of strangers. LADY STRANGERS! I didn’t let myself think much about what could go wrong, and just channeled my nervous energy into my blog :)

I ended up meeting four women and they were all great. We had good conversation, good drinks, good food, and it was so nice to just be around people.

Since I moved to Pittsburgh 3 years ago, I haven’t made much of a social network. I’ve been busying myself looking for a job in higher ed, moping about not being able to find a job in higher ed, and working at my current job. Those three things have really dominated my life and haven’t had much energy left to get out there and meet people. Being depressed and discouraged is exhausting.

My meetup was a great reminder of how essential it is to be surrounded by people, and the human drive to be accepted and belong. While I may never see those women again (we’ll see!) it was a pleasant couple of hours of feeling welcome, relaxed, and relieved. Which is exactly what I needed.

My First #MeetUp.com Meetup (I survived!) Here's why you should try it! via J Seeks Joy

On Vulnerability, Plans, and the Crooked Path

I’ve been having a lot of conflicting feelings lately, and they all stem from my own sense of vulnerability.

I’m gonna rewind here a bit. Since I started college in 2008, I’ve tried very hard to do the ‘right’ thing. I graduated in 4 years, knew I was destined for something other than advertising, found my calling in academic advising, went straight on to grad school and finished my master’s in a year and some change. I did everything pretty formulaically. The next step in the equation for me was getting a job in higher education. This is where things start to sort of veer off track and life takes the wheel. I’ve been applying to jobs that I don’t have enough experience for to even be considered for an interview. I’ve been networking my arse off and the general consensus is that yes, I need experience on top of my degree. Meanwhile, I need to be a current student at a brick and mortar campus in Pittsburgh to get an internship, and volunteering isn’t something most offices will allow you to do as you can’t just ‘work’ for free. And FERPA etc.

That brings me to where I am now. For the past five years I’ve been able to pride myself on my plans going as, um, planned. And now?  I am extremely vulnerable. I have a master’s degree and I’m working retail for minimum wage. WOW this was so not a part of my plan. I guess you could call me a control freak of sorts, and not being able to control this part of my life plans is making me a bit crazy. I’m stuck in the experience cycle.

It’s obviously not something exclusive to me or my situation but it’s hard not to take personally. Some days I feel like giving up on pursuing advising and channeling my energy elsewhere. Other days, I feel grateful to have a job, no matter what kind it is, and I construct unconventional dream plans to worm my way into an advising job somehow. Sometimes I feel alone. And then there are days like today where people I’ve only met through Twitter shine through the clouds like sunshine I haven’t seen in months. And even though I’m no closer to a job, knowing I’m not alone helps immensely. Being vulnerable doesn’t have to be something I bear privately. I can be openly vulnerable. It’s pretty frightening, but it’s so much easier than internally feeling embarrassed that I didn’t immediately get a job out of grad school that uses my degree.

We’re all on a path, and for most people my age, that path is crooked. There are more unemployed and underemployed people than there are job openings, we all have a good chunk of debt from our education, and it’s a buyer’s market, to put it in real estate terms. Employers can afford to be ultra choosy with job candidates because there are so. Damn. Many of us.

I’m completely unsure as to where my professional life is headed at this point. I’m vulnerable and my pride has suffered quite a bit as a result. There. I said it. And I put it on the internet so there’s no taking it back now.

Here’s to the crooked path, vulnerability, and the willingness to accept the unpredictability of my life going forward.

Thanks for reading :)