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

Two Years After Graduation: My Progress

Last year I wrote a post about what I’d accomplished in the year since I finished school. It’s only fitting that I do it again.

Two years ago today I walked across the stage at the University of Houston Downtown graduation ceremony. It was quite the day that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Probably helps that I have a picture from that day on my nightstand just a few feet from where I sleep. You can read a little about what I accomplished in the first year after graduating from college here.

I’ll only be talking about what I’ve done in the last year from this point on.

The end.

Seriously. During my first year I wrote my book and started this blog, but in the last 365 days I haven’t done much. It hasn’t been a lack of motivation. I haven’t written anything, which is fine by me because there’s something much more important that I need to figure out before I think about that. It’s called a job, a real one.

I’ve been actively searching for a job since at least August. All of them in CJ. And nothing has panned out. Now I’ve reached the point at which I don’t think I’ll ever be working in CJ, which is disappointing and ridiculous at the same time. First, the American criminal justice system as a whole is under a microscope right now. One would think CJ agencies all over the country would actively be seeking out applicants who have a college education and have displayed over the course of their lives a high level of moral character. I have. This isn’t me bragging, it’s simple fact. Second, I know based on my experience during these last few months that I’m much more qualified for any CJ job than a significant portion of the applicant pool for any jobs in the area. I can’t speak for other parts of the country, though it’s very likely the same, but most CJ applicants down here apply with a high school diploma and a few college hours. You know just as well as I do that there’s a big difference between someone who went to school two or three semesters and someone who finished.

That last paragraph just seems like a rant, but oh well.

My main goal for the last year has been to find me a job in CJ, and I’ve failed at that. Now I need to reevaluate what my future holds.

No question for y’all today. Last year’s post included a handful of pictures, but not today. I don’t feel like including any.

PS: my failed job search has nothing to do with the economy or the worth of college degrees in today’s society, just know that you’re wrong if that’s what you’re thinking.


On this day in 2014 (as you already know) I published A Year After Graduation: My Progress.

 

Writing as a Hobby

writing-is-my-hobby

Photo Credit: I’m Just Sharing

Okay guys, I have no idea if this will turn into one of my more rant-y posts, but I’ll write whatever I write. By the way, I just realized that I start a lot of posts with “okay guys.” I guess it’s almost routine now. So now let me get on topic. What do you think I mean by this post’s title? Honestly, what do you think? I think it’s fairly straightforward what I’m getting at here.

You see, I’ve never operated under the guise that writing would ever be a career for me. I mean, sure I decided to give myself a full 19 months after graduation to get some writing done, but I’ve never imagined myself on book tours or bestseller lists. Maybe you have, not me. I’m not stupid. I think my writing is okay, but I am well aware of the fact that there are many more writers out there who are simply better. It doesn’t matter what I write or how often I write or any of that stuff that you constantly hear will make you a better writer, because at the end of the day I’m just okay. And I’m perfectly fine with that.

I want to take you back for a second to May 2013. Graduation stuff is in full swing and the time is fast approaching for me to put up or shut up when it comes to writing. I’d been telling people for months about my goal of writing books, and now there would be some bit of expectation from many of them for me to get something done. I’m taking you back to this particular time because someone who probably knows me better than any other person told me very clearly that she believed I should write as a hobby in my free time and get a real job. I have to be honest here, I hated that she said this at the time. This was someone I’d known since high school and we’d remained in constant contact in the years since and she was telling me that I shouldn’t focus on writing. I’ve written about this girl and her advice on here before, and it appears that once again I’m going to acknowledge that she was right. If I’d had more people like her I might have a job by now.

Anyway, back to today. I’ll probably start writing again eventually, but I’m about to completely reverse a decision I made back when I began writing my second book. I wrote a post about it last year but I’m not going to go find it. I said that under no circumstances would I self-publish. And I probably still won’t, but I think it’s safe to say that I have no desire at this point to pursue representation with an agent or traditional publishing. The book I’ve been “writing” will eventually get written, but who cares if a thousand people read it or just me? I’ll write because it’s something I enjoy and feel that I’m slightly above average at, but I’m not sitting here fooling myself into thinking that I’m some super writer who is going to one day make it big by writing crime novels. That isn’t happening.

And what gets me the most is that I see writers on Twitter tweeting ALL DAY LONG every single day about how much they’ve written or what they’re working on or something about writing and I just laugh. Because let’s face it, a tiny tiny tiny tiny tiny sliver of the writing population will eventually secure a publishing deal. Something like 0.05%. And these select few have won writing awards in college and published papers and they make the move easily into fiction. And it seems like every writer seems to think they’re within that percentage of the population, whether or not they’ve even finished college or ever written anything of substance. Folks, there’s a reason your bookshelves aren’t full of books written by high school or college kids, so stop with your crazy thinking that you can do it without all that.  Yeah you might be a good writer, but you are not getting a publishing deal. Not now, at least. Most likely never.

I realize that most of you likely work full-time or maybe you’re in school or something and you also happen to write, but if you work minimally and you’re not in school, well you should probably find yourself a career. Cause writing isn’t it.

And I’m ready for all of you to tell me how just because I don’t think I’m good enough that I shouldn’t think that about everyone or how writers don’t have to have a degree or blah blah blah. Go right ahead.