The Secret About Living Like Your Dog 04/02/2014
The Secret to College Success... Maybe 04/02/2014
Jaime C, 23, CT USA
I had a panic attack and an anxiety attack and an asthma attack and a sneak attack all rolled into one. I was shaking and my thoughts were racing and I threw up... without even being hungover. I realized that, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I didn't know who I was anymore??!!!@#@#$#%#
I was filling out an application for a program, on which it asked standard questions like, "What are your hobbies? What are you passionate about? Tell us about yourself!" I love writing (the physical act of it) and especially filling out forms, so I started happily writing the canned responses that I've had internalized for years and and and oh my god suddenly I thought what in the fuckhell that's not even me anymore and those are NOT my hobbies and I am passionate about different things and I can't tell you about myself you dumb FORM because not even I know who the hell I am right now and I can't believe this generic application just made me CRY!
And in swept the as-panic-xiety attack.
I realized, just then, that I had changed, but I never really recognized or realized or conceptualized the change. I was so used to being one way and describing myself as such that I hadn't ever thought to re-evaluate it. I was going through life changing, adapting, learning, triumphing, faltering, advancing, relapsing, advancing... without taking the time to understand or appreciate or fix those things. I was being passive with my own identity.
Much like a business, I realized that I should do quality control and quarterly reviews and performance analyses on myself. It is impossible for me to be the same person I was 20, 10, even 5 years ago. That sounds like I'm an unstable wreck, but really, I have met new people, seen new things, experienced new adventures; learned more, loved more, hated more, hated less, traveled more; I've surprised myself, inspired myself, disappointed myself; I've been surprised by others, inspired by others and disappointed by others. Sure, my inner core is still the same, but my outer core, lower mantle, upper mantle and crust (what? is she making earth layer references?!) have been influenced by all of that. And it has taken me time to be okay with the fact that shit is going to happen and I can't help but be affected by some of it.
I still find myself freaking out about feeling unsure of who I am, who I want to be, who I don't want to be, what I want to do, where I want to be, where I don't want to be........... but I've learned to accept the fact that I can't possibly know everything right now. I'm a human--not a math problem. I mean, some math problems probably are more complex than some humans, but my point is, I can't expect to solve the equation of all the tangled intricacies of the human mind, body and spirit in the time it takes to do some calculus homework.
One tip I have for feeling less anxious about some of the stressors in your life is to write them down. Take the headtrash OUT and put it on paper. It's cathartic. I write down what's bothering me and next to it, I write down ways I can solve it or what it will take to make me feel better about the situation.
So, I've found that the secret to not driving yourself mad with worry about trying to pin down your entire young identity is to re-fuckin-lax. First, don't expect to stay the same--and why should you? There is so much in this world to behold--your only job is to open yourself up to it all. Second, you will encounter a myriad of things in this life that may change you, so be prepared to set time aside every so often to reflect on those changes by doing annual reviews with yourself: What did I experience? What did I learn? How have I changed? Is it good or bad? Third, don't fret if you haven't gotten yourself completely figured out--it will and should take time. Instead of having an as-panic-xiety attack about it, busy yourself by collecting bits and pieces of life. Try new things, meet new people, figure out what you like and dislike, experiment, read, travel, talk, listen... the more you see, hear, know, taste, experience, understand, enjoy, dislike.... the more you increase your surface area capable of letting life in... and the better you will understand yourself.
The Secret to Being Memorable 03/29/2014
Shannon P., 21, Poughkeepsie, NY, USA
The Secrets of Eat, Pray, Love 03/27/2014
Jaime C., 23, CT, USA
I loved the book and I love Julia Roberts, so, naturally, I am looking forward to seeing the film. Are there, too, many commas, in the, previous, sentence?
I've never been through a divorce or a deep depression, but Elizabeth Gilbert's words still managed to resonate deep within me. Eat, Pray, Love is an inspiring memoir, chronicling Gilbert's yearlong journey of recovery and self-discovery and it .
I also bought her latest work, Committed, but I can't seem to get through it. Not sure if that's my fault (too tired/lazy/busy) or hers yet.
VICTORIOUS SECRETS VIDEO! 03/27/2014
Jaime C., 23, CT, USA
I'm sorry, I'm SO over-tired and distracted in this video, but do you get me?
If you don't share my sense of humor, you may not :-X
Still, I hope you'll submit your secret!
Without you, The VS are nothing.
I LOOK LIKE A BANSHEE!
Someone get me a brush.
And a shower.
The Secret To Avoiding Cooties? 03/26/2014
Jaime C., 23, CT, USA
WOW. What an appropos article. Relates to the Victorious Secret posted below. Top Marine Corp officer said the he would want to avoid placing gay and straight Marines in the same room if the ban on gays openly serving in the military is lifted.
A) Gay people don't have cooties.
B) Just because someone is gay doesn't mean they want you.
Read the article here: http://us.cnn.com/2014/US/03/26/marines.gay.housing/index.html
I think it is noble that people like "THAT GUY" below, will still devote themselves--200% of themselves--to their country's safety and freedom, despite such a ban.
The Secret To Surprising Yourself 03/26/2014
The Secret to Moving Forward 03/26/2014
Mac K, 22, NYC
In today's tumultuous job market, everything you do is a shot in the dark. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. After clicking submit on your dream job application, you’re left in a limbo wondering what, if anything at all, will happen next. I took this mentality with me after I left my internship with a certain "Great Vampire Squid" investment bank of Rolling Stone infamy and graduated college a semester early. I had no choice but to think this way because unfortunately the business within the banking giant I worked for could not add to their headcount. But by having them top the list of qualifications on my resume, I already had a leg up on many others as I started my job search. This became evident when the Prime Brokerage side of the firm came knocking on my door on February 18, 2014 at 4:47 PM (no big deal, this wasn't a moment to remember or anything). It was not of course, out of nowhere because hey, we are talking about Goldman "harder to get into than heaven" Sachs here. Even Lloyd Blankfein was rejected after his first go straight out of Harvard Law! Backtracking to my opening statements though, it was because I put myself out there. With the notion of having nothing to lose, I e-mailed the head trader on the desk who I had only met once and wrote her essentially saying that I want to work for her, and by asking for this opportunity I can only come out a winner because the only certain way to come out a loser would be by remaining quiet in self pity of being unemployed. Of course this life changing moment occurred during the weekend I had the house to myself as my family was on a work-vacation in San Diego and I was resolving an issue with the tub. Anytime your tub starts spewing out brown particles in the heart of Gramercy, you should not leave it untended. I left my phone charging in the kitchen and came back to find a missed call from a number I had recognised from my interning days. Sidebar – earlier that day I had had an interview at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Since BOAML is right across the street from the new GS building, I e-mailed my closest cohort from the prime brokerage division at GS asking if they wanted to meet up quickly for a bite, as it was the middle of the day. Initially I thought it was her finally getting back to me so I called back and recognised the voice immediately. Mr. Fox, as we will call him, picked up:
Having worked with their direct counterparts, I was nave to think that when they said they wanted me to come in for an "informal" interview, I was almost a shoe-in. While I should have shaken off the initial excitement that left me happier than a pig in shit, I remained wide-eyed and almost in shock that everything was aligning. It seemed unreal that everything I had worked for was finally paying off. Looking back from this moment though, it only seemed logical. I've always been a firm believer that everything happens for a reason – regardless of how good or bad; there is no such thing as luck. If it's a mitzvah then great! Be thankful. If it's somewhat of a misfortune, then you have to pick yourself up and stand back, trying to make out what good may come from the situation at hand. With this in mind, I had taken two semesters off school, transferred from a lower echelon top tier school to a more prestigious one then back again, and switched my major three times. Had I not gone back to the lower ech uni, I would have never got that internship and thus would not be in this great position at the time. Alas, I only had four days to prepare of which I obviously spent only an hour doing so.
I arrived early and made my way to the third floor. Upon exiting the elevator, I was greeted warmly by the receptionist who already knew I was there to see Mr. Fox and pointed to the coatroom and bathrooms. As I walked to hang my jacket, I neared the opening to the trading floor, which was a vast open space with rows of desks separated by only lines of monitors and flanked by a wall of frosted glass with a central opening to another trading floor. That gated floor was exactly where I wanted to be after all this was over. The initial "we just want to get to know you better" sentiment they laid out for me couldn't have been anymore different once I sat down in the conference room overlooking the West Side Highway. I was supposed to interview with only the two traders who were in charge of recruiting. I ended up meeting five after about four hours and I wasn't even offered a bottle of water (even BOAML gave me that small courtesy and that place was a ghost town)! Needless to say, after those four hours of talking about myself I was suffering from temporary dry mouth syndrome. I regress; the first interviewer was Mr. Fox who I had met once before (also during the same visit where I met the head trader who I sent my catalytic e-mail to). He remained my main liaison during the interviewing process. I should have been least nervous with him but he removed all emotion from his face leaving me to wonder if he thought I was as incoherent as Jesse James in his statement after cheating on America's sweetheart Sandra Bullock, or whether he truly was appreciating the conversation we were having (I’m here for you if you need me Sandy). Regardless, each of the next three were progressively better. I thought I connected with them on almost all points and made my mark. Then came the last guy who we will call Sean Penn. Sean waltzed into the room with a carefree daze on his face and sat down before pulling strands of his very anti-finance mop behind his ears and adjusting what were probably a pair of Oliver Peoples resting on his nose. In his laid-back surfer voice, he started by saying, "what's up dude? Like how's your day been so far?" I thought to myself, "man I'm going to nail this. This guy is gonna be easy." Wrong. He broke me. Beyond his Big Sur faade, was a really intelligent and technical intimidator who aimed to destroy my soul before even laying eyes on me. As the minutes passed, I was treading in deeper water. He asked me a question I couldn't answer. Instead of recovering gracefully like I normally would, I found myself fumbling for words. "What? Er...umm...no, maybe...wait...right?" I somehow escaped that bout with all extremities intact and we moved on:
I spent that next week drowning my sorrows in over processed soy "chicken" patties and as much primetime television as possible; constantly e-mailing my colleagues at the office I interned at to see if they had heard any insider news. Finally mid-morning that Friday, I got an e-mail from Mr. Fox saying they would like me to come back in for a second round the following Wednesday from noon to four.
Elated, I prepared myself very methodically this time. I did more research, had my uncle ask me questions in a mock interview setting, and obviously allowed myself enough time to give the nanny a break and played a round of tag with my cousins. The next morning I showered and shaved, and actually dried and brushed my hair. Anticipating perspiration, I went with a normal solid deodorant instead of my usual natural stick. I put on a crisp white Burberry shirt that had a slight herringbone pattern, which could only be seen in the light. Tied my Black Label navy patterned tie into a perfect symmetrical Windsor and tucked myself into grey plain front Brooks Brothers pinstripe pants. Rolled on some black Hermès socks making sure the embroidered “H’s” faced outwards, and tied my jet-black J.M. Weston cap toes before sliding into my fitted grey pinstripe jacket over which I added a Burberry trench coat. I'm not Pat Bateman or a sociopath for that matter, but I figured I should accurately draw the most important morning of my young adult life for you.
I left exactly an hour early, portfolio with eleven extra resumes in hand, and made my way down 18th Street to the 1. Subsequently riding the 2, I settled next to a group of tweens who probably granted themselves early dismissal and stared at me, chastising among themselves, "who isn't at work at this time if you're not in school?" I thought to myself, "yeah, this guy. Hopefully not for long though. Either way it beats your blue flannel and desert boots." As I felt myself getting increasingly agitated by anything, I got off at Chambers and proceeded onto the four-minute walk between West Broadway and West Street. My stomach in knots, I made a last minute phone call to my former co-workers for some advice. Don Miselstein, Isabel Fuentes, Seth McElroy and Elisavet Papadopoulos were half of the reason I was up for this amazing position. Always keeping me in the loop as far as what was going on with other desks in regards to quitting and hiring, and then recommending me, they truly want me to succeed. They all got on the line telling me to just be myself and reassured me that I would do great. I needed that extra push.
I went through the same protocol at the front desk and struggled to find a smile for the security people who let me in, as my nerves would not settle. Made my way up on the elevator once again and put my coat in the closet in the same spot as the first time and secured my wallet inside, as I did not want it bulging out of my pants. I was all about maintaining rituals figuring the only thing I wanted to change was the show I was about to put on, hoping to sell myself in exchange for a salary and benefits. Through the doors from the elevators walked two of Mr. Fox’s associates and they greeted me disappointedly with a “Oh, you’re here early. Give us a few minutes, we just got our lunches,” and proceeded to their force-fielded trading floor. “Since when is earliness a taboo?” I thought. Then I reminded myself how I’m obviously less important than food to those at Goldman.
I sat on a burnt sienna wrapped bench waiting. Other kids were there for their second interviews as well according to the expressions on their faces and the pauses they would take from staring at their papers to look up to the ceiling and mouth their lines detailing as to why they were the perfect fit. Mr. Fox’s first associate, his recruiting right hand man, who had only moments before passed me by with his souvlaki and Fiji water came back to find me where we had last left off and escorted me to a conference room. I should probably take the time now, although it’s rather late to give him the name Owltown. It was not the same room as the first one – it was much smaller yet pleasantly brighter and adjacent to the mini-cafeteria and pantry. So much for ritual. I had spoken to Don Miselstein to see whom I would be meeting with and what they were like beforehand. First was Ms. McPherson. She was fierce, son, and judging by how the next thirty or so minutes went, she liked me. This was a good sign I thought. As the next six assorted vice presidents, presidents, and managing directors filed in and out of the small office, I felt great. I was pulling out all the stops, hitting all the right notes, and my performance was being applauded. It was a back and forth game of tag where I fed off what they were saying and they fed off what I was saying, similar to the one from the night before with my cousins and the transfer of energy when you were “it.” One VP named Brenda Billings insisted on buying me lunch from the mini-cafe after dishing out some probability questions. I hesitantly accepted once she would not let me go back to the coatroom to get my wallet but let her know how thankful I was and even made it a topic in my thank you note to her later on. A few of them asked me what I would do if Wall Street stopped hiring indefinitely for the next five years. I collected myself and said, “Become an artist.” This may or may not have sat well with them but I maintain that it was a strong move to show my high level of neuro-dexterity. I once read somewhere that the people best suited for business are middle brained and I’m a pretty talented painter to go along with my innate mathematical skills. My last interviewer was Ms. Ja’mie King (thank you Chris Lilley). Ms. King was the head trader and the other half of the reason I was there. She was seemingly very eager to talk to me. Our conversation was great and ended on this note: “You’ve certainly got chutzpah,” she said. “Regardless of whatever happens here, don’t lose that spark that brought you in front of me in the first place.”
After this second four-hour session came to an end, and despite my Bob Ross lapse of judgment, I found myself smiling and glowing. There’s always room for improvement but I really couldn’t have done much better at that stage. Mr. Owltown came back to the room to gather me. During my first interview he had told me that afterwards, he would take me around the desk to meet everyone. Since it lasted well past six o’clock and mostly everyone was gone, it didn’t happen. So I asked, “Mr. Owltown, since we didn’t get to it the first time, did you still want me to walk around the desk and meet everybody?” “Yes, that’s just what I was about to do,” he replied. And so we began to march from the small bright office, across the first trading floor to the door in the frosted glass wall. He flashed his ID card by the reader and opened the heavy door for me. Inside was a replication of the anteroom only with a more bustling atmosphere. Despite seeing Sean Penn’s smirking face, I knew this was the right place for me and could only hope that all twelve people I spent eight hours talking to, including Penn, thought the same.
After leaving, I parked myself on a bench on West Broadway and called my best friend’s mother (who has been a second mother to me almost my entire life, especially as of late) and gave her the play by play, then repeated the report for my brother. I got up and went straight to my aunt and uncle’s office to share with them. On the way I called Isabel Fuentes, who is still my closest friend from GS and shared with her as well as Don. The tandem of me, my aunt M, and uncle E then went home and I began preparing for a phone interview I had scheduled for the next day. This job was in San Francisco doing the same thing I did while interning. I didn’t think I needed to but I’ve learned never to put all your eggs in one basket and aced it sincerely hoping it wouldn’t be worth the effort, then packed a bag and headed for my college town to celebrate St. Patty’s day with the ex-roomies and friends. Fast forward – I got back Monday night and woke up Tuesday morning to find a message from Mr. Fox in my inbox:
Shocked at what I was reading, I didn’t know what to do. It was the second worst day of my life and far worse than the day I got into Brown but waitlisted at UPenn, or the day my second grade teacher Ms. Perry explained to me that we couldn’t see each other romantically. Or even worse than I felt when TLC announced their new show, Hoarding: Buried Alive. Desperate, I contemplated reaching out to a friend who used to summer with the Blankfein’s and asking them to call in a favour. “Ha!” I thought. “That would show them! Direct orders from the top telling them they had to take me on board. So what if I would be that guy; shunned for a while. At least I would have my own set of bisque coloured business cards that I would have no one to give to.” Instead, feeling more defeated than the Nets, I replied to Fox detailing how I have never wanted anything this much or felt more right about anything in my life. Bad form? Maybe. Or maybe this was just the type of last-ditch effort necessary for them to see how determined and driven I was. Realizing it was probably the former; I quickly resorted to some damage control and e-mailed Ja’mie King and Mr. Owltown. To Ms. King I wrote how thankful I was (in addition to my initial thank you note) for the opportunity and that I was going to take her words to heart. If anything were to arise in the future, I asked her to please keep me in mind. To Mr. Owltown, I simply asked for feedback on my interviews that he got when he reconvened with the group for which I could use in my [now prolonged] job search. King was the only one of the three to respond. She said she would in fact keep me in mind and that I should not stop knocking on doors. “People who have the hunger you do end up doing great things!”
I don’t know whether or not I can pinpoint the exact moment I went wrong – I did a lot of things out of passion in the heat of the moment that could have been used against me. But as I like to make use of affirmative action in all applicable instances, loosely deeming myself Hispanic-Latino (I’m part Brazilian. Yeah, not of Spanish origin. Whatever, they always define Hispanic-Latino as Central or South American), screw the glass ceiling. That glass wall was harder to get past than the glass ceiling or what’s more, the hammer brothers guarding Koopa in Super Mario Brothers for Nintendo. As I later would find out, the decision was based not on me as a person but by an underlying political agenda. Politics? Really? First time in my life that it hasn’t worked in my favour since my U16 soccer debacle.
Truthfully though, it was hard to accept this fate. The past six months were some of the worst in my life filled with ups and downs – losing my mother at a young age and having to pick up the pieces thereafter; having my brother return from a year on the front lines in Iraq. The roller coaster finally seemed to reach the end of its circuit after getting this interview and it was about time that things looked up. Losing the opportunity just as quickly was the last thing I needed.
To go back to my philosophy on everything happening for a reason, this was not a mitzvah. It was a misfortune – not only for me but also for the folks over at Goldman as well. I could have brought a wealth of attributes to the table and being that I already live in this wondrous city free of charge, they could have offered me fifty percent of the going rate and I still would have taken the job. I’m cheap yet quality labour. Not only was it unfavourable because of this but because like I said, I never wanted anything this badly ever before. But looking at the bigger picture, this small snafu will only serve to shape who I become down the line. As with all tribulations, I’ve outlined that you can overcome them by looking at what may be the brighter side. This apparently was not the right job for me. No matter how much I wanted it or could see myself working alongside these Duke and Northwestern grads joking about how I was so nervous during every aspect of my interviews that I think I had a momentary spell of Bell’s palsy, something else is out there that the universe has already stamped my name onto. A whole new set of colleagues that I’m supposed to forge bonds with and learn my profession through are somewhere waiting for me. And only for a little while I veered from these thoughts and plotted to find the new hire and engage them in a drug-induced bender in close proximity to their drug testing. After that, big bad Goldman would probably come crawling back to me. Bad karma though…er...umm...no, maybe... wait... right? Yeah.
And so with that, I reiterate leaving you with this: when life does not go the way you want it to, speak up and put yourself out there because eventually the right thing will come along, just like it was meant to be. By speaking up, it will only come to you faster. My only regret is that I wish I had listened to my mom, the young artist who I derived my middle brainedness from and inspired me to paint like she did. She spent my whole life sharing these outlooks with me. I just wish she could hear me now. Though this once in an immediate-post-grad-lifetime chance may only serve as a learning experience, I will take everything I learned and move forward after this one last bit that hopefully gives me some closure. If nothing else, it has solidified that everything does in fact happen for a reason…four traders at Barclays just quit; gotta go!