All the Single Ladies

There is nothing like an important life transition to show you who your friends are. Maybe I have never reached an important life transition. Maybe I was never so attached to my friendships as I am now at this point in my life.

This weekend was my bachelorette party. Amidst the stress of sorting RSVPs and scrounging for money and making plans to move out and in for the third time in a year, I took a weekend to spend with my girls. My best friends, my surrogate sisters, my soulmates. There were a few abscences. (Damn economy.) Most were there though, as promised, armed with mixers and clad in cocktail dresses just for me. There are pictures that will never be posted online or shown to our grandkids. There are stories that will be told forever. It was a fabulous weekend, one for my books.

As we sat around my living room sharing our "First/Worst" kissing stories, I contemplated each girl. My breath caught in my throat for a fraction of a second as I realized that each chapter of my life, each major transition that I survived was represented in the room. A surreal sense of wholeness settled with me. They were each with me through many of my firsts and worsts, and they are still cheering me on in my biggest adventure yet.

They are each incredible women. Smart. Sassy. Hilarious. Kind. Loving. Beautiful. Women. 

These are my friends, I kept thinking in awe and inexpressible gratitude. I hope and pray that each of them fulfill their dreams, and learn to see themselves as I see them- wholely beautiful, dearly loved.

A few days ago I was crying to my mom about how I hated not being in school and not having a job and not having money and never seeing my friends. I cried because this transition from college to career-seeking has been rough and lonely, and I was afraid that being absent from school would mean an absence of friendship. But last night, as I raised my glass to make a toast to my girls, the song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" came on, almost as a challenge to the words I was about to say. It made me think twice.

To me, the bachelorette festivities weren't so much a celebration of my next transition so much as it was a celebration of the ones I already had, and the ones who got me through them. I celebrated with high hopes that I might be doing this for them one day. I celebrated with the hope and deep desire to someday drive hundreds of miles and stay out way too late and tell crazy old stories just so that I can say to them, "I support your dreams. I support your future. I support the woman you are becoming."

There is nothing like an important life transition to show you what kind of friend you aspire to be.


Future Employers, Fellow Employees: Please Read.

Last Tuesday night I was taking the Metra from Ogilvie station back to Elmhurst. The cars were full, and conversations carried from one seat to the next, whether anyone intended to overhear them or not. Behind me, a woman sat sideways in her seat, knees curled up beneath her, sketching on a notepad and talking to her friend on the phone. Even as I listened to my fiance talk about wedding plans, I couldn't help eavesdropping on the woman's conversation. Apparently, my fellow passenger has just hired a new assistant at her design company, and it's not going well.

"This girl seemed so bright. She just got a Master's in PR and plenty of internship experience. She had great recommendations. And I'm just so... disappointed. She's... lazy. Now that I have an assistant, I'm not only doing my work, but hers as well."

The woman went on to explain several scenarios in which the new girl had fallen far short of her expectations. The girl has even responded to her requests, saying, "Well, I don't do [insert task here]."

The conversation was intriguing to me for a number of reasons. For the first time, I was able to hear exactly how bosses perceive an employee's behavior, everything from their verbal response to their body language, to the way the dress and the amount of time it takes to accomplish a task. I know that it's important to dress professionally, work efficiently, and show office ettiquette. What I was hearing in her conversation was an unedited, heart-to-heart between two seasoned professionals. This new girl will probably never hear any version of that conversation. Maybe she'll hear a version of the "It's just not working out"-talk. But she might never know the specifics that I heard in that phone conversation.
When you are an assistant to a boss, they rely heavily on your ability to speak, spell, react quickly, and make suggestions or offer constructive criticism. I was slightly shocked to hear that there are employers that care and even rely on their employees' opinions of the material produced in their company. I should know this, but somehow I feel that we've been trained to believe that if we tell our bosses what we think they want to hear, they'll respect us more. In truth, we've simply been trained to cover our asses, a mindset which molds employees like Disappointment Dimwit into the lackluster assistant that she is.

As I kept listening, I had an irrational and overwhelming urge to turn around, stick out my hand, and say, 

"Hello, my name is Bethany, your long-lost wonderassistant." 

But I didn't. Probably would not have been a very good first impression.