When Things Don’t Go According to the Plan (Personal Life Edition)

It’s been a while since I’ve had the opportunity to sit down and type anything.  This past month has just been so busy with getting our daughter ready for Pre-K, doctor/dentist appointments, and the job hunt.  Somehow, through all this perceived chaos, I’ve managed to stick to my marathon plan.  I’ll write more about that when I’m 1 month out from the race date.  Right now I just feel like unloading about other things.

Job hunting.  Oh, boy.  For some reason I thought this would be easier than it really has been.  You just put in an application, interview, and bam, you get a job offer, right?  Wrong.  Oh, so wrong.

I realize that I really went into this job search with a cocky attitude.  I mean, come on.  How could I not be a desirable candidate?  Both interviewing for JROTC positions and police departments have taught me a huge lesson in hubris.  Am I a qualified candidate?  Yes.  Am I what people are looking for?  Not every time.  Thing is, I’m a terrible interviewee.  I’m a shy person.  I have social anxiety that is my Achilles’ heel, if you may.  That makes interviewing the most painful process for me…and it’s all due to unnecessary pressures I put on myself.  I can never really put into words what I want to convey.  I’m more of an eloquent writer when it comes to explaining myself.  This has shot me in the foot so many times now.  Thankfully, I’ve come to realize that.  I know that I need to work on my confidence in the future.

As to the jobs in particular, they’ve come with their challenges in terms of securing them.  With regards to JROTC, I’m not what most principals and Naval Science Instructors (NSIs – the enlisted counterpart of the teaching staff) are looking for.  A lot of it has to do with my experience.  Let’s face it, I have zero teaching experience.  Outside of divisional training where I’ve maybe led 20 people at most in a lecture I have no experience leading a classroom or setting up a lesson plan.  I know it’s something that takes forethought and planning, things I am more than capable of doing.  I’m also fairly young and the vibe I’ve gotten from a few NSIs is that they feel as though I’ll be more like a division officer rather than an instructor.  The JROTC world is a lot different than the actual military.  We’re not “all powerful” because of the rank we hold.  We are equals and really just teachers.  Yes, we have the military experience but the whole “I’m an officer and you’re enlisted” relationship means jack squat when you’re teaching high schoolers.  Now, I’ve never been one to sit back and have other do the work for me while I “manage”.  In fact, I love to get in there and learn a few things along the way as well.  After all, I don’t like being in the position of having to explain something to my superior without understanding it for myself.  Still, because I did only make it to LT in the military I think most NSIs think I’m not at that “level” yet.  I can understand that.  I am technically just out of the military.  I do now realize that I need to refocus how I approach these interviews and convey that I am not just there to teach about the Navy but also to help the students succeed in any direction they choose to go.  Interviewing for this position has been a great learning experience.  I did manage to get 2 interviews under my belt but unfortunately with the school year having already started I probably won’t get the opportunity to interview again. I’m okay with that.

Law enforcement…that has been a whole other beast entirely.  So, when I first started applying for LEO (law enforcement officer) positions I didn’t quite realize how intense the process was and what I was getting myself into.  I just saw fitness test, application, written, interview, background, medical.  Easy enough, right?  Well, I didn’t think through how my medical history would play out and how, oh, you know, I was medically discharged from the military.  Yeah.  On (non-medical) paper and in person I am the glowing candidate.  I was told that with both departments I interviewed with.  However, when it comes to divulging into my background things get a little dicey.  Medical records are requested as part of the process.  There lie my deepest, darkest secrets (I kid…sort of).  Well, if you know me well enough you know that I have had some dark times.  Misdiagnoses, mishandling of situations, and overall ignorance on how things were approached led to things becoming more difficult and severe than what they had to be.  Now, I’m in a much better place now than I was 2.5 years ago.  Ask anyone who knows me personally.  I’m not the same person I was when I was discharged.  Still, in LEO community standards not enough time has passed to show things are better.  Sure, I can come in and reassure them that things are better and how I’ve learned to handle my medical condition.  However, because I was medically retired from the military my condition is considered permanent.  I could go about saying “Hey! I’m all better now!” but then the departments will question the validity of my diagnoses and whether I should be receiving my retirement if I am “all better”.  It’s really a double-edged sword when it comes to my retirement situation.

If anything this has taught me how unfair life can be in regards to my medical condition.  Time and time again you’re told to care for yourself and not be afraid to seek help.  Medical conditions will never be held against you.  However, what you aren’t told is that there needs to be a little asterik mark placed next to that sentence.  It won’t be held against you if your medical condition is physical.  Anything mental makes you unstable therefore not trustworthy and a liability.  How unfair is that?   You could say that this isn’t true but just the other day I read of a surgeon who suffered from bipolar disorder.  She had the condition managed and was living a normal, fruitful life.  Somehow it got out that she suffered this condition and suddenly her abilities to perform the job were put into question.  She was placed on leave with the great possibility that she could lose her job.  She ended up commiting suicide because the thought of her not being able to do what she loved was unbearable.  How sad it that?  So, things were fine when she kept her condition secret but the minute they found out she had a mental illness she’s not capable of doing the job despite the fact that she had been doing it for years and no one was the wiser about her condition?  It’s truly an unfair fact.

I know that last paragraph was quite the rant and off topic a bit but it’s what I currently face as I try to enter the civilian field.  I feel as though I’d be a great LEO but because I suffer from something I can’t be cured of I’m suddenly unreliable.

Okay, I think I’ll stop with the tirade about that.  Moving on…

Well, since police work didn’t quite pan out for me, I’ve gone ahead and moved on.  I decided to work with a company that helps veterans find positions with large corporations.  Though most of their hiring lists are engineering/communications heavy, I’ve been lucky enough to see that many employers do wish to hire managers.  The core of my officer duties was managing people and I really did enjoy that.  It brought a lot of joy and satisfaction working with others in getting a task complete.  It filled my heart with joy when I was able to see those who excelled at what they did and know that I could ensure they got the recognition they deserved.  My nature to be very organized (I’m a big planner) really helped in driving a team to reach a goal.  Knowing that companies out there look for that kind of leadership is comforting.  All that time outside of my degree specialty wasn’t for naught.  I don’t have to start from scratch or go back to school to hopefully beef up my lab skills.  I can find a good job doing what I learned to do and know I can do well.  I just need the help finding those jobs.  That’s what this agency is helping me do and I’m so glad to have them.

Well, that’s enough rambling on my part.   I’m a month out from my marathon so I’ll be posting about that sometime in the next few days.  I really need to get back into talking about running again =D.

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