A Work in Progress

By Alyson McHargue

I started my new job this past week at a home accessories store here in LA.

Now, for you to fully understand the weight of that statement, you need to understand I’ve been job searching for a good 6 months fulltime here in Los Angeles. Prior to that I did four internships within the film industry which I had hoped would turn into full time jobs. Guess what? They didn’t.

Maybe it’s my fault. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. Maybe I was scared to sell my soul to the industry at such a young age. OR maybe the film industry just loves to hire interns and ONLY interns. Who doesn’t love free labor?

Whatever the reason, I decided to stay in Los Angeles after my year long program was done to try and “make it”- whatever that means.

Well in order for me to do that I had to find a job. And fast. AND one that paid more than $300 a month which is about what I was making with random PA jobs. Don’t get me wrong, if you can land a PA gig that lasts longer than a week more power to you, but I had no such luck.

So, in a desperate attempt to stay here I applied to any and every retail store where I could stand the thought of working. Even though I’ve never worked a cash register in my life, I figured my college degree had to at LEAST be worth that.  I thought, if I can get enough hours, I could make rent AND have time for writing, which is what I truly want to pursue.

Well, I finally got hired at  ______ store in ______ mall ( I was recently warned not to post anything about my job on the web,  hence the blanks). I had my first day  two Wednesdays ago.  They threw me into the mix with barely any training, but I didn’t care. I was ELATED to be working and NOT sitting on the couch watching an episode of Parks & Rec.

I was opening boxes, unpacking things and organizing, all things that require very little brain power, and besides the manual labor, it was actually somewhat relaxing. Customers came in and I charmed them with the smile my mamma gave me and I realized, hey, maybe I have a knack for selling things! Needless to say the first day was stellar, and I came home exhausted and happy as a kid experiencing their first Warhead.

Well, here’s where it gets rough again.

I hung out with a bunch of friends the following weekend and heard all about their industry related jobs and all of the awesome projects they are doing. They asked me what I was up to and I received less than enthusiastic replies from the majority of my friends about my mall job- or at least that’s what I chalked it up to in my overly dramatic brain.

Now if you’d actually been at this party, you would have seen that this was all in my head. There were quite a few people who were excited for me and if I had taken a step back I would have remembered that most of them in fact do not have jobs in the industry! We are all trying to get by however we can and I am really and truly so thankful for their community and friendship.

One of my friends was genuinely excited for me and replied with an enthusiastic “That’s awesome!” I said “yeah, it’s not exactly industry related..” and he cut in with “well, that’s even better!”Another friend I spoke to was saying how great it’s been for her writing to have a job outside of the industry because you really couldn’t write up the things that happen to her in real life.

I’ve now worked what I’ll continue to call my “mall job” for a full week and I like it. The people who work there are all characters and I love being around them.

I enjoy my job as long as I’m not comparing myself to other people actually working at Warner Brothers or Walt Disney.  The point I’m trying to make is that comparison robs you of the authentic joy God has already instilled in you. You must put blinders on and stop worrying about what your friends are doing and wondering what they think of you. If they really are your friends, you can step back and realize that their love for you rests in WHO YOU ARE, not in what you’re doing.

Remember that the CREATOR of the Universe thinks you’re freakin’ awesome and when he looks at you, he sees beauty. He doesn’t care where you’re working, as long as you’re living for Him. Take a deep breathe and look for that inner joy. I think you’ll find it if you can manage to first put on those blinders and keep moving forward.

Reprinted with permission from Quarter Life Vices.

One thought on “A Work in Progress

  1. I love this!! We’ve all been there, all had some version of a “mall job” and this is a nice reminder that we are not alone! And that it gets better 🙂 Love your writing!!

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