Tag Archives: advice from people unqualified to give it

Practice What You Preach

4 Nov

I’m an adult literacy tutor, and I have five students total.  I don’t actually spend the majority of my lessons teaching anything–most of my time goes towards convincing my students that yes, they can read/write/spell if they’d only try.  That’s the thing with adult learners: they’re insecure, have low self-esteem, and zero faith in their abilities.  They hide behind a wall of “I can’ts” and “I don’t knows,” because that’s more comfortable to do than mispronouncing a new word or incorrectly answering a comprehension question. Since they think they can’t, they’d rather not try, especially if it means protecting themselves from failure.

I constantly tell them that “I can’t” is the worst thing they could say when trying to learn. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy–if you think you can’t, then you won’t.  I often suggest, “Why not tell yourself that you can, and see what happens?”  Then they try again, and 9 times out of 10, they correctly (if hesitantly) sound out a word or correctly define vocabulary.

Lately, I haven’t applied this sentiment to my personal life.  When it comes to job-hunting, I have a serious case of the “I can’ts.”  Rejection has been the theme of the last nine months, which has led me to believe that “I can’t” get a job, period.  When I don’t have the “I can’ts,” then I’m plagued by the “I won’ts.” “I won’t apply to this, because I won’t get it.”  “I won’t network, because they won’t have any leads, anyway.”

This attitude has given me a sense of futility when it comes to job apps.  I’d rather not apply to job  if I feel like I’m ultimately going to be rejected.  And since I’ve told myself that I actually can’t get any job, I don’t try to find one, particularly because I don’t want to feel like any more of a failure.  Does any of this sound at all familiar???

When I realized I was big fat lying hypocrite, it helped pull me out of my funk a little.  I don’t think I can be a good teacher if the attitude I’m trying to instill in my students is totally absent from my approach to life.  The best teachers lead by example.  It’s unreasonable for me to expect self-confidence in others when I don’t have it myself.  I need to tell myself that “Yes, I can a get a job, I’m just not trying hard enough.”

Not only will this mantra guide my job search, but I hope it’ll pack more punch into my lessons.  If I really believe anything is possible and all goals are within reach for everyone, then my students will pick up on it.  In other words, I’ll be the conductor of the Positivity Rainbow express, and I want you all to come aboard.


Show Me the Quan

5 Jun

When the movie 300 came out, you couldn’t walk near a frat house or a lacrosse team without hearing “THIS. IS. SPARTAAAA!” or “TONIGHT, WE DINE IN HEELLLLL!” A similar experience took place in 1996, after the release of Jerry Maguire.  Douchebags everywhere were suddenly exclaiming, “Show me the money!” “Help me help you,” and from the more sensitive bro, “You had me at hello.”

But as far as obnoxious catchphrases go, Jerry Maguire was different.  It produced a philosophy that can extend beyond the beer pong table, one that guides liberal artists in their career choices.  I’m talking about “the Quan.”

(Only the first 35 seconds of this are relevant here.)

Lovably obnoxious footballer Rod Tidwell just described the characteristics of the perfect job: “love, respect, community, and the dollars too.”  We each have different interpretations what these components mean to us.

I know what they mean to me, and probably to a lot of my peers.  I want a job that make me  feel like I’m part of something bigger.  I want a job that not only allows my to respect my ideals, but also work towards achieving them.  We would like to expand, or at least maintain, that feeling of community we had in college.  I want to wake up every morning and think, “I have work today? FUCK YEAH.”  And yes, being paid for all that would be nice too.  That’s my Quan.

The major lesson here is not that you shouldn’t settle for anything but the Big Kahuna; the lesson is that you should take those quan-less jobs until you hit career and life-fulfilling gold.  You’re not going to find all that on the first job, or maybe the second or third.  If you do, awesome.  But take what you can get, and never give up.  May the Quan be with you someday.