Idle Thoughts

Rants, Raves, and Revelations . . . oh my!

Costume January 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — idlethoughtsblog @ 3:24 pm
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My first-ever business suit arrived in the mail yesterday.  I waited until this morning to try it on and couldn’t believe how much it felt like playing dress up.  How did I get here?  Wasn’t it just last week that I was playing with my grandma’s jewelry when she was off vacuuming and trying to walk in my mom’s shoes when she was napping?  Looking in the mirror at myself in that gray pinstripe suit coat (I couldn’t see the pants in the mirror), I realized that there was no going back — I am a grown-up.

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This shouldn’t have come as this much of a surprise to me.  I’ve been paying bills, rent, credit card, food, etc. since I moved to my apartment this summer.  I’ve been regarded as something of an adult for a long time by my mom and other adults I know, especially after I learned to drive and proved that, after not being pulled over or in a wreck once in the five years (wow, has it really been that long?) since I first put key to the ignition, I was more mature than many of my peers.  But seeing myself in that bathroom mirror stunned me.

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I don’t have a career-starting job yet, and probably won’t until I get my degree.  I bought the suit in preparation for the Associated Press Managing Editors and Hoosier State Press Association Foundation Journalism Job and Career Fair being held on January 29 at IUPUI.  To be honest, I’m more than a little terrified.  There will be a lot of students there with more media experience who are all vying for the positions I need desperately to meet my academic goals for the year (namely, graduate on December 17).  Ball State requires journalism majors to have an internship for graduation and I am really hoping to complete this requirement before my last class-taking semester at college.  I say class-taking because if I don’t get the internship this summer, I’ll have to get it in the spring of 2012 and graduate at the end of four years like everyone else.  That’s the trouble with personal goals — they have a tendency to remind you of your mediocrity.  I figured if I wasn’t going to be a doctor or an accountant with a master’s degree like my two older cousins, the least I could do was save my dad from having to stay at a job that’s more or less killing him on my behalf by graduating a semester early.  You see, my dad has been working at Notre Dame since I was about five and because of his many years there, the university pays my tuition to Ball State, but only as long as he’s still working there.  He is in constant pain, and while I know that no longer working at Notre Dame won’t keep him off his feet due to his stubborn unwillingness to relax, I don’t want him there on my behalf any longer than he needs to be.

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Another thing is needing to know if I’ll be interning this summer and where, because I need to know if I need to renew my lease.  My lease runs out on April 30th (leaving me not knowing where I’ll be living during finals week the first week of May) and I need to give 60 day’s notice of leaving, so I need to know soon about an internship for my college career and for my housing situation.  *sigh*

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What really hit me about an hour or so ago was the fact that, even though I’ve been on the journalism track for the past four years, I never really imagined myself in a suit.  I guess in my imagination, I always saw the world though my eyes, that is seeing my imaginative world through my eyes, where I didn’t see what I looked like, just the things maybe-me was looking at.  I never thought to think of what the person I saw was seeing.  Maybe because, in my mind, I never saw myself as an office worker.  Even though I know it’s not necessarily true, I can’t shake the feeling that only office workers in rooms full of cubicles wear suits.  I also know that journalists don’t always wear suits to work and really, the suit is probably more for professionalism in the interview.  But the gnawing doubt still persists — am I really cut out for this?  Is this really what I want?  Sure, I want to be a journalist.  I want to tell people what they need to know.  I want to let them in on what’s going on between people who view them as too unimportant to tell them themselves in words they can understand.  I want that.  But do I want the office full of gray cubicles and suits?  Is that where I’d fit best or would I be like one of those pathetic characters in movies that slowly die inside at their job, not realizing until half-way through the movie and twenty years into their job that the only way they can live with themselves is quit the job and go be a writer or a painter or a singer or a beekeeper or a chef or whatever?  I’m so tired of making mistakes and I don’t want to make another one.

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I know admitting this may cost me an internship or a job in the future, but living a lie would be worse, right?  When I’m back in South Bend, I watch my dad in a job he doesn’t even pretend to like anymore, wondering what would have been different if he had opened that restaurant after graduating from Johnson and Whales rather than taking the path that led him to working as a run-down supervisor at Notre Dame’s food service, overseeing his staff making bagels for students who couldn’t care less about the people behind their breakfast or scrambling to get a banquet together after some Grand Poobah in the university orders dinner for 100 on short notice, requiring him to call in people who have already left for the day and stay sometimes a few hours late himself.

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In the end, I guess I want to be a writer, whether I’m writing for a newspaper or for a magazine or for my own novel or short story anthology.  It doesn’t matter if I’m in jeans on my couch typing away or if I’m in a suit in a newsroom or at a press conference or interviewing someone on location.  And there are many things I can do with a journalism degree that won’t tether me to a cubicle farm.

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Maybe the suit is just a costume.

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