Moving Forward

I very rarely have days off. I have two jobs: one for professional development and one that pays the bills. There is very little time left in between.

The professional part of my week is extremely satisfying. I volunteer my time at an exciting startup at the crossroads of education and publishing. We develop adaptive digital books for children. What are adaptive digital books, you may ask? You are not the only one who has raised this question, so here is a video produced by me which explains it pretty neatly:

As you see, we are working for the good of Johnny and Timmy and even of the poor Ms Levi who clearly doesn’t get enough sleep. So it’s a very do-good kind of operation and I am happy to be part of it only for that, let alone my professional development goals.

As for my second job, here’s how I came to have it. In order to move to New York City, I had to quit a decent job at a public relations firm in Vilnius, Lithuania. The company I worked for was well known and respected and liked to promote from within, so I could see myself ending up at a fairly good position had I stayed there a couple years longer. But the sheer thought of sitting at the same desk in a shared office with four other people in the same small Eastern European capital city where I grew up and lived all my life except for the breath-of-fresh-air year abroad seemed suffocating. “So that’s all?” I remember thinking to myself. “All these dreams of grand career opportunities, world travels, exciting people, new experiences – where are they?” Same city, same streets, same home, same bus ride every morning – none of that corresponded with my severe thirst for adventure. So I packed my bags and came to New York.

In hindsight, I should have thought it through a little better. Have a plan. All I knew was, I want to be somewhere big and exciting, and since I had lots of connections with the United States (this merits a separate post, if it ever comes up again), New York was the only plausible place to go. (London seemed too cliche, as reportedly certain neighborhoods ring with the sounds of the Lithuanian language.) So instead of applying for scholarships as a graduate student or trying to figure out a way to get a professional job, I just stepped off a plane, printed out a made-up resume (incorrectly stating that I had worked at a pizzeria in Vilnius), and knocked door to door at local restaurants until I got hired on the third day.

Since then, I’m a waitress. It’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because it’s flexible and easy cash, pretty relaxed (What’s the worst that can happen? Someone will wait for their steak 10 minutes too long?), and, most importantly, pays my bills. A curse, because after a while, it leaves you brain dead. Working at the same restaurant for even six months, which normally is a very short time for one job, is pretty excruciating. In six months you pretty much get a hang of what that particular restaurant is all about and your movements become automated. Which means that it’s boring. B-O-R-I-N-G. In addition to that and the fact that it’s almost impossible to have free weekends, health insurance, a stable income, or friends in the “real” world, it is also simply not why I went to college, read all those books and wrote a research thesis. But of course, I’m not the only one. The restaurant industry is full of people who are on their way to something else. The trick is to figure out a way how to not get stuck.

And that is what I’m doing: working on a plan of how to move forward. That is what my blog is mainly about.

Are you also juggling two jobs? Are you a restaurant industry worker? What career are you aspiring to get into? What’s your plan to move forward?

If you’ve read this far, don’t be shy and tell me about it!

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