The Whole Story | Chapter Four

The summer after my junior year, I worked as a store management intern for Kohl’s Department Stores. I was thrilled to not be working in an office building and I had already studied retail management in high school so I figured this would be a good job for me. Plus there was the added pressure to secure a summer internship that would translate into a possible career. The experience was a good one, and at the end of the summer they offered me a job upon graduation and the opportunity to work during the school year as a campus ambassador. Not knowing what other alternatives I had, I accepted. I was excited, of course, to go through my senior year with the peace of mind that I had a job waiting for me at the end of the year. But that was what I really took the job for. I was attracted to the comfort of a carefree nine months and the pay they offered was pretty good. I knew that the job would offer valuable experience, and I did have an interest in retail operations because I had a feeling that someday I would own a business of my own, I just had no idea what that business would be.

As much as I enjoyed the irregular schedule the job required, the creativity of merchandising, and the responsibility of leading a team, I was discouraged by the inappropriateness of being friends outside of work with my team members. I had friendly relationships with everyone I worked with, but I knew that it could never translate into a new friendship while I was their boss. This frustrated me to no end because I felt like I wasn’t really able to make new friends. Most of my friends moved toward the city after college, and some of them were still pursuing their degrees. I would travel to visit with them on the weekends I wasn’t working, but all this ended up being was an extension of the college experience. I went along with it but I was also kind of disappointed. How was I supposed to find new friends, or meet a great guy, or feel socially fulfilled?

Having remembered the relief I felt after seeing the therapist in college I decided to seek counseling again. I remember sitting on her couch during our first session and telling her what I was experiencing, as tears streamed down my face. She kindly let me sit quietly and cry, recognizing that this was an important release for me. I tend, as so many people do, to bottle up emotions and delay dealing with them until they have built up so much that they can no longer be contained. I was feeling an intense loneliness, even though my job was very people oriented. I felt like my friends were forgetting about me because I lived so far away - kind of like an out-of-sight out-of-mind kind of thing.

I also felt like I was hopeless in attracting a boyfriend. I wasn’t really hanging out where my friends were, and when I did it was so infrequent that I kind of became the friend who tagged along sometimes. I’ll admit I was just as happy to not spend every weekend pretending like I was still an undergrad and I quite enjoyed the days off I would sometimes have during the week. I was navigating a completely new social landscape, remotely; Westford wasn’t exactly a town with a fresh population of eligible young men.

I did meet one boyfriend while out at a bar with a friend of mine. He was out celebrating his birthday with some buddies, so you can imagine what kind of drunk he was. They seemed like a cool group of guys though and we kept in touch and ended up dating for about nine months. He lived close to the city and I was still in the suburbs so I would pack a bag for a few nights at a time and drive in a triangle from my parents’, to work to his place, and back again, sometimes adding a night downtown with my girlfriends. I kept this up for a while and it was exciting but getting old. As we got to know each other I realized how different we were, and that we were in different places. I was noticing more and more quirks or things that annoyed me and started to distance myself and say things that I wasn’t feeling and not say things that I was feeling.

Throughout the relationship I was still figuring out who I was, and who I wanted to be. I now know that this is why it didn’t work out! How can we attract a person to want to know more about us when we don’t know and love everything about ourselves? How can we expect someone to love us if we deny that special gift to our own mind and soul? I don’t believe we can, and that is why it is so important to take a step - sometimes several steps - back and really examine the many areas of your life. Learning to understand what is working for you and what isn’t so you can focus your precious time on the areas of your life that need the most love.

Often these areas support one another and making small and easy improvements to an area that you are somewhat satisfied with can boost the satisfaction in other areas of your life that you once thought were hopeless. Once you start seeing these little actions add up to big change you feel so motivated and addicted to the momentum of your personal growth. All of this is possible when we examine these areas from the transformative place of self-love

Lauren D'AgostinoComment