Aside from learning a new job, meeting new people, and discovering the mountains, I found myself doing an awful lot of self work the summer of 2013. I never intended to do this work, it just kind of happened.
With long hours and the fear of failing both in the personal and work world, emotions were high. I had just ended a 5 year relationship, and even though I intended to be single and happy, that destination is not reached without an awful lot of hurt and confusion; at least this was my experience.
The job I had been hired to do in Skagway was an incredibly difficult one. It was also, a job I thought I would have no trouble doing because I had managed shoe and accessory stores in the past, and because I had owned my own business and was responsible for its sales and thus success. I thought all these experiences were a sure entry to success in my new summer job.
I was wrong.
Before my first month was done, I was called in and informed that if I didn’t sell I would be sent home. The crazy thing was, I was doing everything and anything possible, short of forcing people, to get my sales up. It was just SO HARD.
Cruise ships came in at 7am and left at 7pm. We had days filled with customers from all over the world entering a coffee shop for a snack or a drink; and we were supposed to convince them to purchase thousands of dollars worth of fine jewelry….while they were on vacation, in a random small town in Alaska.
I was on a full training plan with the manager, who would tutor me on everything from how to start the conversation until the closing of the sale. I thought I would never sell a thing. I couldn’t even get anyone to buy silver…how was I supposed to sell gold and diamonds?
This newfound lack of success in something I thought I could do, plus the exhaustion from hours of standing followed by hours of hiking ( and the occasional cooking and drinking sessions with the boy with the nice smile) left me so defeated I almost wished they had sent me home. But my manager had faith I would be a great sales person, so they kept me there.
He was right. I ended up doing really well, but not before my confidence was shaken. I knew things would get better, because they were so bad they couldn’t possibly stay that way. What I did not know, however, was if I had the endurance to wait for success to come.
Ending a 5 year relationship isn’t just breaking up with your partner of the majority of your fundamental growing-up years, it also entails breaking up with the life you knew. Being so far from it all helped, because I was not confronted by anyone in person and I was not asked many questions (at first). However, the inside hurt the same.
Is this the right decision? Do I miss this person because of habit or because of love? How do I differentiate the feeling of loving someone from being in love with that person? How do we separate our life, things, friends, family, dogs?
Spending so much time with a person, especially at that age, means all you have has been built together, especially because we had both moved thousands of miles away from home and all we knew and possessed we had acquired and gotten to know together. Detaching from that life was not easy, no matter how much the physical distance helped.
And because the work hours were so long and distracting I only had my few hours of hiking in the night to think of it and deal with it all.
I was sure a bottle of wine and a hike a night would heal my broken heart…
Back in Los Angeles, I was a working actress. Not a famous one, but one who made a living from solely acting and acting related jobs. This (surprisingly) brought little satisfaction. I had spent my entire life working on the craft of acting. Years and years of training and practice and passion and non stop work had amounted to a dissatisfying reality, where I was casted for roles that were of little to no interest to me. I was feeling less and less motivated by my career choice, and this is why I decided to take a break: enter Alaska.
Now i was in this far away place, failing at work and in love, and my passion for acting had become a second thought because I had found no satisfaction in actually doing it as work. What was I going to do with the rest of my life? I had no plan B, because my plan A had been the one thing I had always done and loved and felt great about doing. But this newfound reality left me with no allies, not even hobby wise.
I had two passions in life, acting and traveling. And the latter was not a job….yet, so now that my plan A was becoming less and less of a career path, where was I headed?
I was failing at my current job, out of love with my previous one, far away from anything and everyone I knew and my only constant was a spinning class at 5:30am and those 12 hour long work days followed by endless summer nights in the woods with a bottle of wine and the nice guy as my companion.
Who was this new me? And where was she going?