verbal croquis

once bitten, twice shy

Posted in personal by verbalcroquis on December 23, 2006

I’ve been keeping myself busy the past month I’ve been unemployed–I got married, got sick, scoured the interweb for job postings, celebrated my birthday, my brother’s birthday, and my dad’s birthday, mourned the loss of a friend, updated my resume, and am currently performing head to toe cosmetic surgery on my portfolio.   The liposuction is complete, the boob job is in process and new skin grafts will be acquired soon thereafter.

I’ve been blessed by the career services department at my alma mater digging around for me too.   I also have a meeting with a headhunter on Tuesday.   I’ve also been looking on my own.  It’s been rough, since there aren’t a lot of jobs in San Francisco for designers.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but the company I was working for is located very close to my house.  I literally had a 6 minute commute.  So of course, I pass the offices quite frequently during my day-to-day happenings.  I always have mixed emotions passing by–sometimes sadness, sometimes anger, sometimes nostalgia for the good times, and always a feeling of “what ifs”.  I don’t regret my decision to quit, but there are times when I think maybe I didn’t try hard enough, or maybe I should have done things a different way.

I was having a conversation with a friend who was going through a difficult break-up not so long ago.  She told me that it was hitting her especially hard because this was the first time it was so harshly “non-amicable”.  I mean, the girl is still best friends with her ex-husband and the last guy she dated before this particularly vicious ex is still part of her inner circle.

I understood exactly how she felt, but at the time couldn’t put my finger on why, since I have not had any horrendous break-ups in my relationships with guys.  It has recently occurred to me that I could relate so well because I have had relationships with my jobs and this last job was the only one where things ended negatively.

There are several different types of people out there regarding their jobs.  Some view it purely as a means to an end, a way to pay bills and the stuff they really care about like new skis and food for their kids.  Some work jobs that they like, but leave their work at work, it doesn’t bleed into other parts of their lives.  Some work jobs that are so all-encompassing that it plays big roles in their lives, becoming a major identifier in the person’s makeup.

I am a member of that last group.  Fashion is a huge part of how I define myself.  Check out my Amazon wishlist–it’s all designer bios, photographer anthologies, essays on critical theory on society and dress, guides on production and entrepeneurship for the fashion industry, and manuals on garment construction.  I design stuff even when no one is paying me.  I regularly have long conversations with M, my friend the burlesque dancer, about future performances and costumes.  I write this damn blog and I also write for another industry blog!  I love what I do and don’t care to explore other fields.  I’d rather design for teeny-bopper hos that show as much skin as possible than work in another field.

I’m finally figuring out why I’ve been so anxious lately.  I’m skittish.  Yes, I’ll probably find a new job.  But what if this job treats me as badly or worse than the last one?  What if I love it in the beginning and when the romancing period is over, it becomes sorely obvious that this one just won’t work for the long run?  I feel like I need to find a job as soon as possible, but I’m not ready to “put myself out there” yet.

I know some of this sounds silly, but yet, here it is.  This is how I’m feeling right now.  Yes, this is temporary and yes, I’ll get over it eventually.  There’s just this new layer of wariness sitting on my shoulders right now and I’m working very hard at not letting it become straight-up cynicism.  Wish me luck.


7 Responses to 'once bitten, twice shy'

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  1. Wendy said,

    Zoe, it doesn’t sound silly at all. When you are privileged enough to work at what is your true passion, the rewards are great and yet the pitfalls can be deep. I don’t believe you need luck. You have talent, an impressive work ethic, and a deep passion for your field. These things all are more important than luck.

  2. Danielle said,

    Once bitten, always infected =D

  3. SIMON said,

    It is fairly common kowledge that in order to succeed in this business you need passion. Not just saying you have passion to please a few around you, but to exhibit that passion on a daily basis.

    You have the passion. Finding the right scenario in which to thrive can be a very tall challenge and this will become a priority for you .

    Keep in mind that when you land something, not everyone is going to operate at the passionate level you do and try to find a way to meld into the situaton and go about what you do best. Understand that many co-workers are just going thru the motions, and the most important thing to them is payday and Friday , 5 o’clock.

    Cream eventually rises to the top. The rest is either consumed or becomes milk byproduct you deal with on a daily business. You will be fine over time. You just need to understand more the very complicated world and science of fashion politics.

  4. Christy B. said,

    You always write my ideas I haven’t yet put into words,and this is no exception! I’m a third category-er myself and have been burned in the past. I now cringe whenever the phone at work rings because at my last position, I was in charge of answering the phones. 3 out of 4 calls were bill collectors, companies we hadn’t shipped on time, store owners my boss had been rude to calling back to give me a piece of their mind, etc. I don’t want to leave the company I work for in fear of finding another place like my past job! I think you can only accept the fact that the job you find next might not be perfect, but there will be plenty of learning experiences that you can take from it to apply to the next venture. The bad break-up analogy is so spot-on, it’s freaky.

  5. Andrea said,


    My heart goes out to you. The experience you described was every job I ever had. After that first sting it’s really hard to get back on the horse (especially if you don’t have the immediate opportunity to be viably self employed). My advice to you is to disengage your identity from your employer…not necessarily your profession, but your employer. It is apparent from your writing that this company was not a good fit from the beginning based on your description of the challenges you were facing.

    An employer is just a person who pays you to do what you love(in your case)…their loyalty and care of you is secondary to how you care for yourself. If you change your expectations of the role they play in your life you will be far more rewarded by your tenure at a job. My biggest challenge in working for others was that I took too much onto myself and felt very responsible for things that weren’t my responsibility…such is the case when you truly care about what you are doing. I guess the biggest lesson I recieved from my experience working for others is that they need you to help run their companies….you need them for a pay check. Even the most caring of bosses will hang you out to dry if it’s a choice between you and their bottom line, and if you don’t expect them to care for you beyond that mutual obligation it makes severing ties much easier when you need to, for you and for them.

    I hope that helps and I wish you the best of luck on your job search and merry christmas, too.


  6. Sherry said,

    None of what you feel, think, and are experiencing right now is silly. You are going through a tough patch and trying to deal with it head on (instead of being in denial). Do you want to be a whole person or do you want to allow yourself to be diminished by others?

    I thought so. This is part of the process — a test, if you will — of getting stronger. You reached a crossroads where you could accept a weak handshake or take the full bear-hug of life. Do not despair, things will get better. It might take longer than you might like, but it will take the time that it is meant to take to get you where you should be.

    Are you considering other cities in addition to San Francisco?

  7. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I have the best readers.

    I’ve read over your comments and mulled them over the holidays. I thank each one of you to put in the effort to help me feel better. A lot of the time, I exorcise negative feelings ramblings in my head by writing them all out. You all raise good points.

    Sherry: I’m looking in the general Bay Area (I have a car), but I don’t want to move. I love San Francisco.

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