From the “Are You Kidding” File

I read several blogs that cater to chefs, food writers, and foodies. One post I read recently was a Q&A with a culinary R&D specialist at a large company, where she tests new products and develops and tests recipes for the company’s cookbooks and website.

Before I continue, let me give you a quick back history. Many of you know from various blog and Facebook posts that I’ve been extremely unhappy with my job situation. I took a job at a place where I never would have if I hadn’t been desperate. I’d been laid off from my last job when they downsized (cut themselves in half, really) and spent the next year and a half out of work. This was in 2009, at the height of the economic ugliness in the U.S. A friend told me about this job and recommended me. It was supposed to be temporary until something else came along. Five years later, nothing else has come along.

But this is not from lack of trying. Without going into the excruciating details or a whole “poor pitiful me” diatribe, let me just say that I’ve gone to great lengths to “improve” my chances of getting hired and applied for many, many, MANY jobs just over the last few years alone. I’m a skilled, experienced professional and I’ve gotten nowhere.

Which is why it’s like slap in my face whenever I hear people tell me that they got their job because they were “in the right place at the right time,” or met so-and-so at an event and that person offered them a job, or someone approached them online or on LinkedIn and asked if they wanted to apply for such-and-such position. I’ve heard so much of this sort of thing over the last few years, and it drives me insane. When you’ve slammed your entire body against doors of opportunity to get them to open, it’s really difficult to see the doors fly open for others and watch them just glide on through, and still maintain your self-esteem and a modicum of graciousness.

So back to the R&D specialist. In this Q&A, she was asked how she became a test kitchen manager. She explained that when she was in culinary school, she was assisting the dean at a cookbook photoshoot. He asked her what she wanted to do when she graduated and she told him that she wanted to work in the test kitchen at one of the country’s top cooking magazines, but they were all based outside of where she lived (and, I guess, where she wanted to continue living). He informed her that the local regional newspaper had a test kitchen. She called them immediately, got an interview, and got the job. This, in turn, opened up doors at large, well-known companies.

And all I could think when I read this was, “Are you fucking kidding me?” It was that easy for her?

How it is that all these people have somehow found their paths so easily? What voodoo priestesses have they been visiting? Did they get the big piece in a wishbone tug-of-war? I’d like to know how one can get a piece of that action.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for all the good things in my life, but imagine you’re a kid and you’re at a party. All the other kids at the party are given ice cream cones and you’re not. None of the adults gives you any real reason for not giving you an ice cream cone, they just don’t. Maybe not all the kids get cones, but that doesn’t make you feel any better for not getting one either. And no one will even give youa lick. (And, please, let’s just assume for now that all the kids at the party are in the same social and economic strata. They all get to go home and have good meals with their families.)

That’s how I feel.

I’ve been on this path the past couple of years to change my outlook on life. You may not believe this after having read this blog, but I’m much more positive these days than I was a while back. My attitude and mindset have improved.

But when stuff like this happens, it’s hard to stay upright on that road. I just plop down on the pavement, hang my head in my hands, and wonder what I’m doing.

I’ve spent my entire adult life chasing that elusive job that’s “right” for me. The last few years, I’ve been more focused on what I want and have pursued a narrower goal. And why not? People are always saying things like “Don’t follow your dreams, chase them,” or “Do what you love, the money will follow,” or “If you’re willing to work hard, you’ll achieve your goals.” I set my sights on what I wanted and went out to get it. So, now I have people telling me that my goals are too narrow and I have to be open to accept other things.

Well, which is it? You’d think that by the time you turn…ahem…23, you’ll have things figured out. But, alas, it doesn’t work that way. Didn’t for me, anyway.

So now I’m in the middle of this road to an unknown destination, totally flying by the seat of my pants. It’s unnerving when up until a few years ago, you’ve had your feet firmly on the ground. And it tends to stun me a little when I see people landing on their feet without really jumping that high. Everytime someone lands in front of me, hitting the ground ready to run, I just think, “Are you kidding? Really?”

That’s just the way it’s going to be until I feel terra firma under my toes and I’m off on a trot. Sometime before I’m ready to retire would be nice.

2 thoughts on “From the “Are You Kidding” File

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