Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I finally met with my career counselor last week and laid it all out for her. How I've had three jobs in this town and each has been progressively worse than the last and each have ended up in some form of lay off and how I'm sick of the accomplish - nothing - in - a - timely - manner work ethic and how I'm tired of the political games and the bullshit and that I'd like to consider jobs outside of Washington, D.C. (The one exception would be, if I could land a job in editorial production at National Geographic, I'd consider a job here. But that is the only institution I would consider.)

She gave me homework, which is due tomorrow. I'm working on it right now, but I'm going to ask you to help me with my homework, too. Being brutally honest, please answer these questions based on your knowledge of me--whether it is personal (i.e. we've been friends for more than several years) or observational (i.e. you know me through my blog, we've never met in person, but you've formed an opinion--positive or negative--about me.)

Specifically, answer these questions:

1. What do I like to do? (Doesn't have to be work related necessarily.)
2. What am I passionate about?
3. What do I want my life to look like?

Along with those three queries, add these for extra consideration:

What is important to me?
What am I looking for?

I know they're sort of lame questions, but at this stage, I need to ask them and be serious and honest about the answers. I'm doing that now and will post my reply tomorrow, but I'm interested--from your perspective--how you would answer these for a friend (in this case, me) and if you'd like, for yourself. Sometimes, you're too close to a subject yourself and it helps to have the perspectives and perceptions of others. This is certainly true in my case.

Thanks in advance! I'll be back tomorrow with answers of my own and responses to your answers, which I won't read until after I've compiled my list.

Photo copyright: Passionate: Creating Passionate Users. Click on the graphic to see a larger image or click on the link and read the article and see the image. Don't you love choices?


Di said...

OMG! Do you remember me doing this very same thing over three years ago?? I think I still have your response to my questions, and I'm going to go hunt it down. I think it will give me insight into you as well, don't you?

I'll probably email rather than comment.

Debi said...

From blogging and a few emails...

What do I like to do? Write, take pictures, learn about things, and meet goals for yourself.

What am I passionate about? Being engaged in the world of people and ideas. (Eg. The Holiday Meme, the photo of the homeless person, sharing information about DC, taking on 2 Things)

What do I want my life to look like? A place where your talents are used, where you matter, and where -- by Golly -- people get along with one another.

From this distance, and granted it's only a window of pixels, that's what I'd say about you. I have an extremely positive opinion of you.

Whatever your previous work history has been is the PAST. I'm so glad to see you've gone to a career counselor and I hope that works out.

By the way, have you ever taken an MBTI personality test? You can search my blog for "MBTI" for some info and links. Knowing my type has helped me understand and learn more about myself. More importantly, it has helped me better understand others that don't think like I do.

I can't wait to see what happens for you next! When you get the right fit...watch out world!

ME said...

I'll take a stab at it:

1. You like to write, blog, cook, eat, spend time at the beach, host fabulous brunches and get-togethers, take photos, travel, play with new technology, wrestle with and solve problems, and engage your brain when you work. You like humor, good manners, teaching by example and being a dependable sort of person.

2. Passionate about your Mac and what you can do with it; once upon a time Mormon Studies was a passion--maybe sociology & religion/ethical living still is? Passionate about learning and expanding your mind, sharing with others, friendship, being who you are. Passionate about sensitivity and good manners when others are behaving badly.

3. You want your life to be rewarding, meaningful, rich in experiences and friendships, challenging in ways that inspire you to improve. You want your life to be comfortable enough to take care of your obligations, creative enough to stimulate you, varied enough that you don't get bored, and with enough bumps that you'll grow and all the laughter you need to make the harder parts bearable.

4. Friends, love, feasting, feeling valued and appreciated, putting out quality work, being fair, improving yourself, feeling better about your life.

5. Re: employment, a good fit for your skills and abilities, the opportunity to grow and be challenged, working for a place that actually lives up to its billing--no bait and switch once you're hired. A workplace where integrity is important and where your humanness and personality are assets.

I'm going to add some questions.

6. With regard to your career/work, what are you not getting or not getting enough of?

7. The things you identified in #6: do they exist in the workplace? How do you know? Where can you find them?

8. If you know where these things are, can you find access? A way in?

For example, if National Geographic has what you need in an employer, take a tour, set up some meetings with HR, give them your resume, let them know about your skills and see what happens. Can't hurt, right?

Good luck! We're rooting for you! oxoxox ME

ME said...

PS--Why aren't you writing tour guides for D.C. for people who dig history, dead guys and great photos?

Cele said...

Oh very interesting, and I'm so playing.

1. Photography and people, that is what I glean from your blog. You seem very into finding insights about your surroundings and the people about you.

2. Photography, finding a job, and cats errant (the last was a joke)

3. Successful and full of people you like, adore, and respect.

4) To be valued and respected for your work ethic, knowledge, and ability. It seems to me what I've heard from you is that you are not respected, not valued, and abused at work. How can you work for people like this who have destroyed your respect of them?

5) A home. We spend so much of our time at work that it should be a home, a place we look forward to being each day. Since I've read your blog, you job has seemed a place your want to flee, not want to be. You want to give your all because it is right and appreciated, that has been impossible because you've worked for cold, calculating, little people.

I have a very positive view of you. You are open, giving, and genuine. You want to be the best you can be, and accepted for who you are, not for what someone else wants you to be. Just my thoughts.

Phoenix Touch said...


I hear that you are seeking something radically different for yourself. I feel excited that you are possibly stepping onto a new path that will bring you infinite joy and fulfillment! I am also appreciating that you posted these questions, asked for feedback and invited me to join along. These are intensely personal questions that I believe will unlock magic within me.

Knowing you only through our interchanges here in blogger land, I will share with you how I feel...

1. What do I like to do?
I see you as an amazingly creative person, whether that be in making delumptious food or creating breathtaking photos. I see you as introspective and eloquent in your writing and imagine that your passion lies in CREATIVITY. You love to catch the world in a snap, be it in words or images and you love to share good food with good friends. Also, I see you as committed to openness and integrity in all that you do.

2. What am I passionate about? Oh! Well, I answered both one and two in the answer for number one. LOL

3. What do I want my life to look like? I see you as wanting your life to be one of ease and flow. I hear you express a longing for peace and stability, safety and security. I feel that you want to be able to live fully, laugh often and look at the world straight in the face without lowering your eyes.

What is important to me? Being true to yourself, even if - or especially if - that is done through laughter.

What am I looking for?
The center of you where you stand firm, balanced and completely certain that all is right in your world.


ps... I am aware that most of my answers are a projection onto you of what I want for myself! :)

Jess said...

I feel a little bit useless doing this because I've only started reading your blog recently and I don't feel like I know you that well yet. But I will say what I can. And by the way I saw that meme and thanks for the tag. I'm sure it'll take me forever to come up with my six words, but when I do I'll post them.

Okay. You like to write and take pictures. You are passionate about learning/studying/understanding, DC (good and bad), and photography.

You want your life to involve doing something that matters to you and to other people, that has significance in some way. You want other people to recognize that and respect it, and you. You are looking for all of those things to mesh together into a position where you can do things you're passionate about and positively impact other people through your work. And be recognized for it.

I feel very invasive making these guesses about such personal things. But I hope it helps.

Anonymous said...

I forgot what the question was, but here's what I think you like to do:

Both creative and analytical writing.

You'd like a place where others are as people-oriented as you are.

You'd like a place where your sense of humor and intelligence are put to use.

You'd like my job :)

Everybody else's comments were so good, I don't have anything to add.

Just -- good luck with the career counselor!! You're so focused, this is bound to lead to something good.


Adriana Velez said...

I went to a career counselor over a year ago with mixed results ("went to" is a euphemism as she's in CT and we did all our sessions over the phone). I answered questions like this -- and many, many more and the end result was "gee, it sound like you should be a food writer." (And now, here I am, not making money from writing about food.) I still think it's helpful to answer those questions truthfully, to think outside the box, pie in the sky, etc.

I guess I would say be upfront about your conflicts -- if you have difficulty describing what you'd like your life to look like because it involves seemingly mutually-exclusive elements, for example, that's something pretty big to talk about.

I mean, I want to write about food, have time to cook and tend my family, travel, drink wine, keep living in Park Slope, AND HAVE MONEY. Hmm, I see a conflict.

Adriana Velez said...

Oh god, how embarrassing. I wrote about myself instead of you.

Well, I think your other readers did an excellent job of answering those questions.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Thank you everyone! I made a similar list last night and everything you shared here affirms what I've been feeling and leaning toward. I'm glad to know I'm not as far off track as I thought I was.

Di: I remember an email you sent me a few months ago with six questions in it, which I answered. The thing three years ago, I don't remember. And I'm not good about saving my emails.... If you have it, I'd love to read it. If you don't, don't sweat it.

Debi: Thank you! You're right: my previous work history is past. I need to focus on the present and a little on the future. And yes, I have taken the MBTI a couple of times. I'm an ISTJ. Unfortunately, I haven't done a good job of learning what others are and then dealing with them accordingly. (I hate putting people in a pigeon hole, but maybe in this case, it would be a useful tool and I need to get over my squeamishness about limiting anyone to their four letter MBTI.)

ME: Thank you! Your additional questions are also providing more food for thought. I'll ponder them tonight and get back to you. As for Nat'l Gee, you've outlined exactly what I've thought about doing. Part of what I have to weigh, though, is, do I really want to stay in D.C. and would a job at NGS really be compelling enough. I say it is, but is it really? I have to figure that out.

ME, again! Interesting you should say that. I actually shared an interesting tidbit about the Lincoln Memorial with some tourists today and they seemed to enjoy it. That said, though, I think I'd have to live in the city a lot longer. Still, I have printed in book form some of my photography as a gift and it was well received. Perhaps I could offer custom/unique coffee table books....

Cele: Thank you for all of these, but especially for #5. You're so right: my last three jobs have been places I've wanted to flee from, not spend time in. I do need to find something that feels a little more like home.

Abgue: Project away, my friend! I'd like to be centered again. I miss the centered me.

Jess: Thank you for taking a stab at this. I think you really hit the nail on the head with the respect thing. I haven't had that in any of my jobs here--for whatever reasons, real or imagined--and that's a crucial part of feeling successful.

Phoebe: Thanks! I'd like to think I'm focused, but mostly I feel like I do about a lot of things: I'm just makin' it up as I go along!

THANK YOU AGAIN EVERYONE! I'll post my list of answers tomorrow.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Adriana: I love your answers. And you're right: I need to figure out what is and isn't compatible. Somewhere in my lists, I know I'll have conflicts I'll have to reconcile... Yuck. That sounds like an either/or proposition. Hm. Well, you've given me something to ponder.

Thank you!

Di said...

What six-question thing from a few months ago?? I don't remember that one... Hmm.

You're ISTJ? I'm ENFP -- so we're EXACT OPPOSITES! Weird, eh? Well, about half the time I'm ENTP, so we'd have the "T" in common here and there. ;-)

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Di: Years ago, when I first took the test, I was an ESTJ, but as I've aged I've learned to interact with people differently. While I enjoy a good crowd still, I also find myself more easily drained by social interactions and work interactions. The result, I tend to lean more I now than E, but it's pretty borderline.

In truth, I think I'm E in my personal relationships and I in my professional ones.

And I'll email you the other...