On a Wednesday afternoon at Rebel Lunch (lunch with a pint) with my closest girlfriend, my phone dinged with a notification of a new email.
“Oooh, it’s from the library,” I said with unbridled excitement. “Looks like one of my books is ready! Is it Amy’s book or the new Flavia DeLuce mystery?”
“It’s gotta be Amy’s,” my friend replied. “You’ve had that book on hold for forever.”
It was indeed Amy Poehler’s audiobook, “Yes, Please.” I believe I started out as number 72 in line for the audiobook narrated by the hilarious “SNL” veteran and “Parks and Recreation” star herself.
It had been only minutes before that I was telling my friend how much I needed this. A good solid break away from my stressful financial job where she worked one floor up from me. Good food, a good brew, and Radiohead playing as my friend and I talked books and travel. It hadn’t been that many weeks before this lunch where I was excited over an incoming email from the local newspaper. It wasn’t a writing job, but a business job that I was later warned could not be parlayed into a writing position. Worse yet, the pay was what I made five years ago as a bank teller.
At this particular lunch, I was letting the stress melt away and allow myself to be excited about fun things. Like Amy’s audiobook. And if I only knew then how much Amy’s book would reiterate that feeling and sense of self. Amy wrote:
“You have to care about how good you are and how good you feel, but not about how good people think you are or how good people think you look… Treat your career like a bad boyfriend. It likes it when you don’t depend on it. It will chase you if you act like other things (passion, friendship, family, longevity) are more important to you.”
That really struck a chord with me. I had given up on my search for writing and marketing jobs for a while, but after getting some help on my resume from someone I wrote with on my college newspaper, someone was now speaking to universities and who had writing in the works for the hilarious show “Archer,” I was back at it. Armed with my beautiful InDesign resume and solid advice, I was still struggling.
I had started at my company five years prior as a bank teller with the intention of eventually getting into the marketing department. I would talk about my dream of a ‘real job.’ I understood how bad that sounded when a co-worker said the job we were both working was a ‘real job.’ But I also hoped this co-worker, one who related to my lament one morning that I thought I had put my tights on backwards since the ankle area seemed to be closer to the top of my foot because he had worn tights in theatre productions, also understood how I felt. And Amy talked about that in her book, too. Of not wanting to be too good at the waitressing gigs she worked while she was auditioning for parts early in her acting career.
"Talking about something is not the thing. The doing is the thing," Poehler said. "The way you do the thing, is you just have to do the thing." This woman is so wise. If I landed a marketing job for a large corporation like the one I was currently working for, would that even be the thing? My career? Would it make me happy? It would make me happier, certainly. But it was not the thing. Promoting an art gallery like the one I interned at in London would make me happy. But those spots are hard to come by.
I have talked about writing a book, but as Amy said, the talking about doing the thing is not the thing. Writing a book would make me happy. I need to give writing more love because my writing is something I can control. I can’t control all of the marketing jobs I was being rejected for without even getting an interview. So instead of getting discouraged while HR reps marked up the Microsoft Word/ corporate version of my resume like a teacher grading a paper, I needed to do.
When life gets you down, I recommend listening to Amy’s book. Especially her chapter on time travel—it’s a beautiful bit of what will be my life bible now. Or listen to Amy as Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation.” They are both such good and wise souls.