The Turtle’s Greatest Accomplishment
Unemployment has been amazing.
I get to sleep, read as much as I want, spend time with my family, enjoy quietness, not go out of the house, not wear makeup or put on real clothes for days on end, you know, the dream.
And then come 3 harsh realizations:
1. I don’t go out of the house because that normally requires spending money.
2. I will eventually have no money without a job.
3. I now have to enter the hades of #firstworldproblems: online job searching.
Online applications are the WORST.
Endless, repetitive, and stupid.
Why did I just upload my resume, sync my LinkedIn account, and create a profile only to now have to re-enter ALL my employment history, addresses of where I’ve lived in the past 15 years, every food allergy and pet in my history?
By the time I’ve finished sharing every intricate non-job-related detail of my life and changing and rechanging the input of my numbers because the database doesn’t process my phone number if there’s dashes in it…
we get to the real clincher: the EOE, Equal Opportunity Employment, questions.
It’s the Triple Threat: I’m Female, White, and Non-Veteran.
It was over before it began.
So my only chance to stand out is with those few and far between open-ended questions.
Recently one asked me to describe myself and why I’m unique in less than 125 characters. “Remember,” it claimed, “Say something that makes you stand out!”
So I wrote a limerick.
Sure, it was a throw-back to 2nd grade, but I betcha anything it made me stand out!
I haven’t heard back from them yet (surprising, I know), but this following application requirement has been my favorite one so far. Here were the directions:
Write a first person account of a turtle’s greatest accomplishment from the perspective of a turtle.
and so thus my turtle story.
I never got around much. People never thought much about me and it seemed like all the other animals got chosen to be the best pets, all soft and cuddly. I couldn’t understand what I could really do in life to contribute. I’m slow and have a super hard shell, that’s all anyone has ever labeled me, what I have only ever labeled myself. Accomplishment wasn’t in my path.
And then one day I took a walk near the road. I never venture out that way much, but for whatever reason today felt different. And I’m glad I did because when I reached the street I was about to turn around when I saw this chicken. He was dejected, slumped on the ground. I hesitated, then asked what was wrong? Ironically, he had my story. Rejected, unable to see his path, no purpose in life, ~psh~ probably couldn’t even cross that road. He’d always been too afraid, would most likely fail anyway.
As I slouched there next to him not sure what to say, suddenly the light came on. In that moment I saw me, and I also saw what I could do. I can’t do much, but I can move slowly, and I can pioneer paths for someone else to follow.
So I did what an insecure, fearful turtle has never done: I crossed the road.
It wasn’t much, but it was a first step. For both me and then the chicken. You just do what you haven’t done before to prove you can and you are worth it.
And he followed. He really did!
So, everyone, why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. To take the next step. To face his fears. To create the first success of many more.
And that was my greatest accomplishment.
I don’t think I realized it at the moment, but what I wrote was just a story of myself. In high school I remember a year of deep depression I went through. And the only moment of light for me was when I suddenly looked up and saw 2 other students, younger than me, who were facing the same emotional battles I was.
I couldn’t really even help myself, but I could walk in front of them and give them hope that they can move forward. And they did. And you can’t trade that experience for the world.
I think this is for so many people. We get so overwhelmed by what we’re “supposed” to be doing and accomplishing when in reality the greatest accomplishment is right in front of us and it’s one person. You lead one person. Then it becomes two. And then it becomes four. And then one day, years down the road, you have people coming to you saying, “Can I follow you?”
And you’re like, “Um, I’m just a turtle.”
But sure, I can pioneer for you, help you have some vision, but it was you who crossed the road, it was you who actually made the decision to be brave.
I think I’d prefer to be the person who helped the chicken become famous.