For My Girls
I wrote this a few weeks ago and never published it. So I thought I’d share it today.
Two weeks ago, I left my job in Chicago and moved back to the East Coast. I also left my junior associates and my interns, who were in my charge (I like saying it that way- it makes me feel like Michael Caine in The Cider House Rules. God, that was a depressing movie). This is the letter I wrote to them in my head.
I am leaving you soon. You know this. We’ve discussed it at length. But there are some things I feel necessary to share with you before I go. Please put your phone down and listen to me- I promise this won’t take more than a few minutes.
I’ve grown very fond of you over the last few days, months, years. With some of you, it feels like I stumbled upon a delicate baby doe in a forest clearing and guided you out into the light, feeding you mini-marshmallows and unicorn tears. With others, it’s more like I stepped out of that clearing and into a pile of dog poo- I scraped you off my shoe and molded you into a poo-shaped statue of middling substance (I’ll let you discuss amongst yourselves who is who).
During our time together, the generation gap between us has been made clear. When I stand up at my desk, having forgotten what I was leaving to get, you laugh at me. While you discuss which Flintstones vitamins taste the best, I am trying to choke down a fish oil capsul the size of my head. When you tell me you are not acquainted with Bridget Fonda’s body of film work (who?), you leave me yelling out words that mean nothing to you (Point of No Return! Singles! SINGLES!). I hope, despite these minor missteps in communication, you will allow me to bestow a few parting words of wisdom.
Here are, dear girls, a few things I wish someone had told me when I was your age:
It’s time to start looking and dressing like someone old enough to buy me a drink.
I’m not suggesting you join me on a jaunt to Ann Taylor Loft or something- but it’s time to put the T-shirts and cartoon hoodies away. This is a “creative” company, yes, but seeing you in a side ponytail does not inspire my trust in your abilities, sad but true. And it does not make our bosses think, “I think it’s time I gave that Child-Girl a promotion!” Forever 21 has some lovely pieces that are fun and work appropriate and they cost approximately $4. When they fall apart after two weeks, you can go out and buy something else- look at that! A constantly evolving wardrobe and you’re not even 24.
Ask questions- the right questions.
I know how hard it is to be in a position where you’re supposed to be learning and yet the people around you, for some strange reason, expect you to already know how to do things. When I see you sitting at your screen, frowning at it like you’re expecting that Word paperclip guy (who?) to appear and provide you with Jiminy Cricket-like assistance (wha?), I know you have questions you are afraid to voice. Let me tell you something- the ability to ask the right questions is a supremely valuable tool in your arsenal. It makes you look proactive and tells the other person that you care and want to do a good job. And what do I mean by “right questions”? I’m so glad you asked.
Try to Google it for yourself first.
If I thought about how many times you’ve IMed with a question that led me to turn on Google search, I would be a very rich person by now. I would own a media conglomerate and Hugh Grant (that old guy?) would be tapping my phone and we would not be having this conversation.
When in doubt, try to answer your question yourself. If you can’t, it’s time to speak up.
The biggest one: discover that being strong and confident does not make you a bitch.
I don’t want to be rude. I don’t want them to think I’m nagging them. I don’t want to be mean. I don’t want to sound like a bitch. I’m sorry but can you? I don’t want them to get annoyed. I want them to like me.
Nobody tells you this but respect is first and foremost an inside job. When you respect your own mind, opinions, abilities, instincts and voice, you send a message to everyone else that you deserve to be respected. And then a funny thing will happen- you will stop caring whether or not they like you. But that’s ok! Because respecting yourself means you will want to do a good job, for the best possible reasons, and that desire will make you good at your job and, if you have a good heart and are respectful of their minds, opinions, abilities, instincts and voice, your coworkers will like you. It’s like magic! It’s Harry Potter without the wands (hey, I got that reference!).
You will be fine. And if there’s anything you need, now you know you can just ask. (Unless it’s about an address or something- because, seriously, Google that shit yourself).
With love and affection,
Entry filed under: Random Bits.