What the hell is going on?


[Image description: A person is sitting on a couch with their feet up. They are holding a tablet. They are wearing a tank top, bracelets and cuffed jeans.]

At this point, you’re accustomed to how my blog posts start. “If you follow me on Instagram…” Well, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that the last few months were a whirlwind. I’ve been putting off writing about it because I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop for months, so that I’d have a cute success story to share with you. That didn’t happen. So I have to stop using that as an excuse to procrastinate. Here’s what the hell has been going on. Let it serve as a lesson that things don’t/won’t go as planned. Try to read this as fast as you can, so that it mimics how neurotic I’ve felt.

As you’re well aware, I’m from New York, went to college in Pennsylvania and moved to North Carolina for my first job. That first job was a fellowship that had a definite end date (June 30, 2018) attached to it. In the 2017 half of my fellowship, June 30thseemed far in the future. My hair would be longer by then. I’d be completely evolved and devoid of any insecurity. I’d have a building named after me at the university I worked at. Et cetera. But once 2018 began, June felt like it was tomorrow. Everyday, June was tomorrow. So I (being myself) panicked, and put a lot of work, tears, and graph paper into figuring out what I’d do next.

The plan was as follows. And although it fits into a few sentences, trust that it took literally months to come up with. I wanted to move to Atlanta in early July, right after my fellowship ended. I picked Atlanta after researching about a dozen southern cities (and Philadelphia). Interestingly, New York was not on that list. I chose Atlanta because of its diverse Black population and the prevalence of Black queer folks in the city. Plus, if I was staying in nonprofit work, there’s that too. I wanted to find a job doing program management, preferably for an organization or institution that focused on Black youth. I wanted a studio or one bedroom that I could have a cat in, so I needed a job that would pay me enough for that. I started my job search in late April, and by early June, I still didn’t have a job.

Now, I told myself that I would have a job in Atlanta by June 15th. And that did not happen. However, what did happen was that two people approached me about jobs in Asheville around the beginning of June. I wanted to stay in Asheville only slightly more than I wanted to move home (meaning I had no plans to do so). Around the same time, I told myself, “okay. I’m not finding a job. I can afford to stay in Asheville for the summer. It’ll be easier to move from AVL to ATL than to move all the way back to New York, just to come back to the south.” I’ll also add that over the course of my fellowship, I ended with about $4000-$5000 in savings (because ya boy is good with money). So my plan was to live off of some savings until I found a job, and still have money to move with.

Recall that two people approached me about jobs in Asheville. The first one made me think, “Is this some kind of sign that something wants me here?” And the second made me realize, “okay, nothing’s popping off in Atlanta. I should stay here. I’ve spent a year building relationships here.” So in the span of like, I don’t know, nine days, I went from wanting to move to Atlanta to having a job in Asheville. Oh. I got hired at the place I worked for the past year. And it comes with a house. So that’s what I’ll be doing for the indefinite future (along with a part-time job, hopefully). But, my campus job doesn’t start until early August, so I’m with my family until I move in in a few weeks, since uh, lol my living situation is attached to my job more than most people’s. Literally, what the fuck?

If you’ve been reading very fast, you can stop now. I’m levelheaded again. I know I’m telling this story pretty haphazardly, and that’s an intentional mis/use of form. I want to highlight how fast-paced, disappointing, invigorating, and everything in between my job search and one shoe falling was.

Again, let this be a lesson that life does not go as planned. It seems like everyone older than me realizes this. So, clearly my youth despite stubborn, self-labeled maturity is showing. But yeah—as someone who is *phenomenal* at planning, these last few months have been and continue to be an unpleasant wake up call to the fact that as many graph paper + Flare pen diagrams I make about my life, there are many other factors, many more factors, that I have zero control over.

Two months ago, I would have laughed, GAFFAWED at the idea of staying in Asheville. I would have welcomed an entire month off to visit with old friends and focus on writing. I wouldn’t believe some of the opportunities coming my way. And while this is all working out, I don’t feel that way. My plan didn’t work. I could blame this on being a high achieving child, on having hardworking West Indian genes, a series of unfortunate events that cause my sense of self to be tied to accomplishment not inherent self-worth. There’s a lot there. But what I will say is that for now, I’m simply sharing to give folks, especially folks who haven’t done a job search before, a glimpse into the feelings that come with transition. I’ve been dealing with a lot of emotions and I’m not yet on the other side enough to have reflections.

So…that’s what the hell has been going on. I’m hoping to produce more than three posts in a four-month span, but as always, follow me on Instagram @allisonalcena or email me at allison@allisonalcena.com. I’ll let you know if the other shoe drops.


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