A Letter to 21-year-old me

Four years ago today I walked across the stage in my graduation commencement ceremony. This letter is meant to describe what happens over the four years that follow.

Dear John,

Take in every moment of your graduation day. Every one. It’s something you’ll never forget. The seventh of 8 siblings and the FIRST to graduate from college. I’m still proud of that, though Adrianna quickly became the second. The following events take place over the next four years, which won’t play out how we’d have expected.

2013

You finished school and our plan is to write. And we do. We write an entire book over the coming months. The book may not be comparable to Lee Child or Michael Connelly, but our name is on the cover. Don’t forget the hours we devoted to accomplishing one of our goals.

The book is released in the October following graduation. Again, soak in every moment of this day. It’s unforgettable. You’ll immediately start on book 2, early the following year you’ll abandon it. Nearly 4 years later and that manuscript is no closer to completion. We’ll get back to it. we will.

2014

2014 is rather uneventful until the second half of the year. Then, oh boy does it get juicy. See, during this time we have a friend. She’s someone we met in 2010 just before graduating from high school. Over the course of the four years that followed we realize how utterly fantastic she is. I’m still not sure what it means to love someone, but I know we loved her. And you’ll make the agonizing decision to tell her. It didn’t turn out as we’d have liked. The feeling isn’t mutual. But don’t worry, remember who we’re talking about here. She doesn’t laugh at you. She doesn’t throw it back in your face. She thanks you for thinking so highly of her. Doesn’t mean the feeling you’ll experience doesn’t suck, but it’s something. The worst part of this event is we essentially lose her from our life. Rather than talking regularly about anything, we stop talking altogether. I guess that’s what happens when you confess something like that and it isn’t mutual. Unfortunately, it’s 2017 and we still don’t really talk.

Immediately after that decision you’ll finally apply to your first police departments. You’ll be rejected by both. The beginning of many rejections from departments to come. Keep your head up. We’ll figure it out.

2015

This entire year is rather forgettable. In August you finally quit working at HEB to begin working at Half Price Books. You’ll meet great people and you’ll be paid to be surrounded by books. What could be better, right? Well it turns out it isn’t as great as we’d expect. But that’s not until next year to discuss.

In December you’ll get your fourth tattoo. Still waiting to add to our collection of ink.

2016

The tale of two halves of the same year. In May we’ll go on our first vacation as an adult to Washington, DC! Boy, those four days flew by and before we knew it we’re back at Half Price Books. The trip was nothing short of magical. Cherish the memories from our first vacation. It’ll only grow more distant into the past with each passing day.

In July we quit working at Half Price Books. We refuse to continue working for such a low wage and only 35 hours rather than 40. Our plan: law enforcement. You’ll immediately begin applying to departments all over the state. I don’t have the list in front of me but my memory suggests it’s around 15 departments. You’ll take written tests, you’ll be polygraphed, you’ll participate in multiple review board interviews, and you’ll devote several months to the process. But you’ll fail. Not a single department is willing to give you a chance to become a police officer. Not one. You’ll even cry a bit. It’ll suck. You’ll vow to never go through the process of applying for jobs in criminal justice again. The process is time consuming and we’ve gotten nothing out of it.

Once the law enforcement applications are completed you decide to apply for jobs you feel more qualified for. You’ll submit somewhere in the ballpark of 30-40 applications. Different companies. Different positions. And you. Some will never call. Some will invite you for an interview. Then there’s Travelers. They call. They invite you for testing. They invite you for an interview. But after all of that you have three more weeks to learn of the hiring decision. We’re up to five months without full time employment. Can we afford to wait?

2017

We turn a corner as the calendar turns a new page. We decline two job offers that would have given us more pay and hours. We do so because we’re waiting on Travelers. That opportunity is too important just to pass up before a final decision is made. The second week of January we get the offer. Travelers wants to give us an opportunity. We accept immediately and even cry a bit. It was the longest seven months of our life. But we finally had what we wanted.

Just two months after starting the new job we’ll go on vacation to Boston for eight days. It’ll be absolutely incredible. Now we’re setting ourselves up to visit many new places in the years to come.

Look, the next four years aren’t going to play out like we’d have hoped. They will be rough. You’ll be deflated and nervous. But you’ll always remain confident in yourself. You’ll never back down from what you believe in. You’ll stay true to yourself even in times of great uncertainty.

I’m proud of our growth we’ve experienced over the last four years. And looking forward to what’s to come for us in the future.

Sincerely,

The only person who knows exactly what it’s like to be you,

John Guillen

A Fresh Start

I’ve been keeping a secret from all of you. But there’s a back story I want to tell first.

Y’all know I worked at Half Price Books. Y’all also know I quit that job in search of something better. Y’all know I haven’t been quite as successful in my job search as I’d have liked. But y’all don’t know I accepted an offer a month ago.

In December I interviewed with a highly respected and very well known company. It’s a company I firmly believe shares my values and encourages inclusiveness and diversity at every level of the company. People say a lot of things about millennials, of which most are patently false. But I know this is one that’s widely true. Young people want to work for a company that shares their values, and I’m no different.

I spent a Friday afternoon taking various tests for the position I applied for. Then interviewed the following Friday. After months of interviews with different companies and law enforcement agencies, this interview was the longest and most conversational. I didn’t feel like I was being interrogated.

They said I’d get a response after about three weeks once all interviews were completed. I got the answer I was hoping for. My first day is today.

I know no two experiences are identical. And I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’m fortunate to have found a position within such a great company. But so often I see people essentially giving up. Sometimes they’ll blame the economy or they’ll blame politicians or they’ll blame themselves. I could have done ALL of those. I believe in December the unemployment rate among college graduates was less than 3%. Underemployment was slightly higher, but I wasn’t underemployed. I was unemployed. I could have lashed out. I could have let the months of not knowing really get to me.

But I didn’t. I kept applying. I kept reviewing my resumé to make sure it was polished. I kept interviewing with companies from all kinds of industries. But most importantly I kept believing in myself. And that’s what I’d tell someone in a similar position. Believe in yourself. Be confident. Be open-minded. Be true to you.

Today I start what I hope will be a long journey with a company I’m proud to work for. And not everyone gets such an opportunity.

I’ve had plenty of encouragement from a number of people on here when I’ve written about my job search. It is ALWAYS appreciated.

Also, I’ve posted every day of 2017! Ayye!


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Things Don’t Always go According to Plan

We all know this. We do our best to plan something and very quickly realize our own lack of control. This was me over the last month. I started a new job on October 27. It was quite exciting to be writing a new chapter in my own personal book of life. But I soon realized the chapter would be much shorter than I’d initially thought. The job wasn’t a good fit for me, and I didn’t enjoy a single minute of it.

On Monday morning I spoke with the owner of the office in order to openly discuss where my head was and what was expected of me. We mutually agreed to part ways. The people I met and spent time with were pretty great, but the job was still the job. And it simply wasn’t for me.

I’m once again jobless. And that’s okay. The lesson I learned from this is simple: Don’t settle for something you don’t really want. That’s what I did. And that’s what got me here.

But there IS a silver lining. There were numerous days over the last month in which I worked 10,11,12, or even 13 hour days. Because employees are essentially brainwashed into believing it’s a travesty if they don’t hit their own goals they set for themselves. So it’s completely normal for employees to work 11:00-11:00 even though the workday is 11:00-8:00. Heck, on Black Friday I imagine every person in the office will work 12 hours. 

Anyway, those hours obviously leave little time for much outside of sleep. But now I’ll be able to focus on my reading! Finally. I started a new book last night and just the feeling of picking up a book felt great. I want to finish off 2016 as strong as I can.

Firsts

We experience a lot of firsts throughout our lives. First day of school. First day living on your own. First child. First time on a plane. First trip to Disney World. First house. The list could go on forever.

Today I get to experience my third first day working for a new company. I imagine it’ll go exactly how I expect. The company has a great atmosphere and the people I’ve met have been great. So, here’s to something new!

*raises metaphorical glass*

What’s your most memorable first? I remember a few of my own if you’re interested!

YES!

Most of you all know I haven’t been working full-time since quitting my job at HPB. I can finally say that’s no longer the case. Yesterday I received two offers and accepted the one I felt was a better fit. It’s something different that I previously had never seen myself doing. But now I’m looking to take advantage of the opportunity given to me. It’ll be a challenge and there will be a bit of a learning curve, but I’m confident in my future success.
It took three months and more applications than I can count, but now I can say I’m starting a new chapter in this game we call life.