Thursday, October 30, 2014

The End Is Near and It Is The Month Of November

So I have been officially given my official official walking papers. At the end of November, I can no longer work part time. I will have to get unemployment unless I find another position and I will have to get insurance through the Exchange in the middle of November.

I am lucky to be living in a state that has not only embraced many of the stipulations of the Affordable Care Act but has been leading the country in many instances, such as expanding Medicaid and establishing Health Enterprise Zones. While we are far from perfect (especially after last years e-sign up) there have been lots of improvements according to officials and I've been to enough conferences to see that this year will be a much needed improvement. The downside is that Medicaid and Medicare recipients will have to reapply due to the new system not being able to convert the old information, but the State & Health Department have been gradually sending that information out so that the recipients don't all try to reapply at once and there is an unnecessary backlog. My mother actually has to pick a new plan for my grandmother by the first week of November (I believe the 5th.)

Personally, I feel excited to see a lot of the things that I have been indirectly involved in coming to fruition and affecting the lives of millions. It is probably one of the main reasons I feel so bad, knowing that I will no longer be in this position.

What I've learned during almost all of 2014 is that everything can change so quickly. Job and financial security is not guaranteed and I've had to borrow money from my family to make sure bills were paid on time. I've made sure I talked with my creditors so that they understood that I was underemployed and would have to come up with a better payment plan. I've learned that I spend ENTIRELY too much on food. I also have started to take my health more seriously since my current medication was making some of my other issues worse (ahh the viscious cycle). I've learned that I wasn't as humble as I thought I was.

I loved working at Johns Hopkins. It was full of seminars and lecture series I could go to for free. I had a great boss and coworkers. I felt like the world was my oyster. Now, not so much. Now I feel like you are one grant denial away or not having a HR buzzword away from unemployment. I already miss the seminars and lectures because I'm looking for full-time employment.

This blog was supposed to be a journey for me to hopefully get accepted into the PhD program or expand my research. Instead it took a turn for the worse and the journey spiraled downward. It is very sad.

Friday, May 23, 2014


So I've officially hit month 5 in my job search and I've yet to get an interview, call-back, and in some cases an email letting me know that they have selected someone else. While I know it is hard out here for everyone, I didn't realize that even trying to move from one department at Hopkins to another would be so hard. I have been rejected to all other Research Assistant jobs and I'm starting to wonder if I'm qualified or not. My resume has been improved exponentially. My friend Jelani has been so instrumental in helping me to not only improve my resume but improve my confidence in myself.

The problem with that whole confidence thing, is that its decreasing by the day. I'm being told by friends, family, and current coworkers (including supervisors) that I will land on my feet. They tell me I'm smart and would be a welcomed asset to any company. Too bad that hasn't been the case.

I'm starting to wonder if I should go back to school for a second BA, apply to a master's program, or try to get a quick certificate. I'm not really sure where to go from here since honestly I'm pretty open to most healthcare jobs that entail research and analysis. The thing that is going against me is the fact that I don't have an advanced degree or more years of experience. Being a recent graduate with a limited background in healthcare hasn't been helpful. Despite my workload and responsibilities at all the jobs I've held, I don't think HR or hiring staff are able to see how to apply what I do know and have done to what they are looking for.

At this point, I'm starting to believe they want a unicorn. They want someone with a master's degree that has supervised a bunch of employees, has 5-15 years of experience, and can walk on water. My discouragement makes me feel like all though articles about how Millennials are going through a rough time. WELL DUH! My quarter-life crisis is shared by many of my friends. Others I think have managed to cover it up with great social media pictures and random trips or luxury clothes/items despite a shitload of student loan debt.  My facebook and instagram make me feel like I'm some kind of loser watching everyone become successful except for me.

While I know this is false, social media has thrown me off. Even Linked-In has sent me notifications of people getting new jobs, promotions, adding skills, or getting another degree. I find myself trying my best not to compare myself to others but when you live in a world that prides itself on literally telling people EVERYTHING you are doing, that is easier said then done.

What I can be thankful for though is that I have a support system and an understanding supervisor and mentor that continues to make sure I feel appreciated and respected. For right now, that is really all that matters. Right?

Friday, April 4, 2014

It Never Quite Goes Away

I said before that I was going to delete this but I realized that was a bad idea. I was upset and rightfully so, but you have to pick yourself up and move on.

Today I went to an awards ceremony sponsored by my Center and It gave awards to various Black members of the health industry for their work in bettering the health of minorities (especially the black community. They ranged from CEOs to members of major pharmaceutical companies to former Surgeon Generals to Doctors, Lawyers and Pioneers in HIV/AIDs research and prevention.

While they were going through their bios and they each got on the stage to give a speech, I realized there was something missing from my life.  I was talking to someone I knew there and we both were thinking "OMG we need to get our lives together. I feel like I haven't done anything." We really felt like we had a lot of catching up to do, not realizing at the time that many of them were old enough to be our parents and grandparents (no offense to those lovely honorees..that looked great for their ages I might add.)

But there was a story that Dr. Benjamin, former Surgeon General said that stuck with me. She told of a case where she wasn't culturally competent despite them having the same skin tone. I realized that despite the data, journals, peer-reviewed articles, that I do not see the day-to-day issues of cultural competence that patients go through everyday. I work to help eliminate something that I have rarely witnessed first hand. I can rattle off stories, case-studies, and examples of culturally incompetent health workers, but I can't give a personal story.

I started to wonder as the night went on how I could do more. What am I not doing? What do I offer that could potentially make more of a difference in someone's life. While I don't know the answer to that, I think its a question I needed to ask.

We all want to think we're making a difference. But sometimes we fail to realize just how much work that can be or how to go about doing it. I think I am going to have to think long and hard about my next steps because no matter what I do, I know that I want to improve the health and quality of care for people of color.While we won't be minorities for long, our health indicators show we have a long way to go before we can truly have a healthy nation.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Rejection and Heart Break

I started the blog with the intention of chronicling my journal to trying to get into the PhD program at Hopkins but I've honestly never been very good at keeping up with non-work/school related hobbies. So things like blogs and journals always fall to the wayside while I attend to other things. Maybe if I had kept up at it, I wouldn't feel how I currently do.

I checked that site everyday (usually multiple times a day) literally all of February. Then on the 19th I was rejected. It wasn't even a full paragraph. Everyone was so convinced I'd get it. I knew my grades and GRE weren't good enough. But the networking, recommendations, and job experience was supposed to help. I was supposed to be that person that got in not due to standardized scores but because of work ethic and displays that I could handle the stresses of a PhD. Apparently, those decimals and 3 digit scores are more important. Maybe I just wasn't a good fit. Regardless, I'll never know as they never tell you why you didn't get in.

So now I have a facebook and family full of people telling me not to give up and to just go to plan B. But that WAS my plan B. I have 8 weeks before I'm jobless and now no grad school. I honestly have never felt more lost than when I was diagnosed Bipolar when I was 19.

It has literally taken me 3 or 4 days to actually cry. I hate change. I mean it throws me off. Now I'm completely thrown for a loop. What am I supposed to do now? I stopped going to church. I stopped doing fellowship activities. I started to blame myself for not being in church enough. Like this was God getting back at me. But that doesn't make sense.

I don't know if its the rejection or the job loss that is bothering me most. Maybe its that I'm in debt and I won't know how to pay for it. Maybe its that I hate this damn winter weather. Maybe its just a combination of personal problems that seem to crop up once or twice a year. 2014 has legitimately been the worst year of my life since 2008 and 2009.  I haven't felt this low in so long, I forgot how engulfing it is.

I lose my Hopkins insurance at the end of the month. Of course it would be in the shortest month of the year. Part of me just wants to get officially laid off and claim unemployment and just take a break for awhile. But I can't do that. I don't know how to give up responsibilities when people are relying on me. I want to bad to just wallow in my sorrow. But then who would be there to help my boss? Once again putting others before myself is probably the only reason why I don't go into the deepest part of the depressive abyss.

This is be my last post. There is literally no more journey. This wasn't a good ride. This isn't something I'd suggest to others. I would not do this again and I refuse to apply for another graduate program. Not because I think I'll be rejected. But because I no longer have the desire. Why is it so hard to want to continue educating yourself and trying to better yourself? Why does everything have to be a business?


Friday, January 10, 2014

When it Rains....its a Torrential Downpour

It is officially one of those weeks. On Monday my old boss told me that he was going to extend my leave without pay an additional 6 months. I told him it wasn't necessary but he did it anyway. Well on Wednesday at 2:30, I went to a meeting and was told I was being laid off. Due to issues with our grants and limited budget, my position was no longer available. I laughed it off, knowing it was always a possibility and knowing I had a backup.

My direct supervisor was my first call before I even called my family and I could sense the anger and pain she felt. I think she is taking it the hardest. It wasn't until last night when I realized that I wouldn't have insurance and that it would be difficult to afford my medication, that I began to get worried.

But all of this has magnified now that there is a possibility that even my backup at the government isn't a guarantee. Its amazing how so much stuff can pile up on you with such little notice. My birthday is the 22nd and I have repairs for my car and my brother was hoping we could go on a family trip to Miami for my dad's birthday. I just feel pretty overwhelmed at the moment.

Everyone keeps assuring me that because I'm smart and have experience, I should be able to find a job before long. I still have a month. But the way that I see it, there is no guarantee that I'll have anything. I'm not sure how to feel about that but I know that I don't like it.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Post Submission, All Holiday, New Years Resolutions

Its that weird time between Christmas and New Years where I am the most unproductive of the year. I'm pretty sure I've slept an average of 12 hours a day since last Friday. I have NO idea why I am so exhausted considering I have done NOTHING. Since my application has gone in, the monkey on my back jumped off and went back into the jungle. Now is just the wait it out.

My Christmas was fairly uneventful and I enjoyed the time with my family. In the past I'd prefer to be at home in my room on the internet but this year it was different. I was happy to get everyone their gifts and spend time with them. I think as we've all gotten older we like each other more LOL. We've all grown so it is a good thing.

As for my New Year Resolutions, its basically the same thing every year. But I will say there are a lot more adult resolutions this year. Besides wanting to lose weight, I'd really like to officially set up my 403b account. I don't know why I've waiting this long to contribute towards my retirement but I will do that once I'm back in the office. I also hope to join the gym at work. No more excuses. I'd like to pay off all my debts (with the exception of my student loans) and really kick my savings into high gear. I would also like to move out of my mom's house by the end of the year. These seem like simple resolutions, but I know its going to take a lot of work on my part. While I'm quick to start things, I end to quit fairly quickly. I'm really hoping 2014 will be different.

Besides that, I just want to get more involved at church and be more optimistic. I think I'm in my head way too much. Sometimes I need to remember that I can't control everything and that is okay. Not everything is going to go the way I want and that is okay as well. I should only focus on the things that I can change.

I will say that while 2013 had its ups and downs, its been a great year. I'm really excited for 2014 and wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Waiting Game Has Begun

So the deadline for the PhD program was December 1st and then all the supplemental documents needed to be in by December 16th. I have literally EVERYTHING in. I'm stressed though. I mean there is a weight off my back now that I am no longer trying to put the application together and study for the GRE, but now I'm anxious. I mean I almost had a panic attack the other day and really started to doubt myself yesterday.

I started to wonder if I was worthy of getting into the program. I mean if you look at my average GPA and my below average GRE scores, I really don't seem like a good candidate at all. I have the connections, good work experience, and great recommendations, but academically I haven't really proven I'm a good candidate. And there is where the problem is. Are they willing to accept me based on my work, skills, and network over my grades and test scores? How good of a candidate am I compared to the others that are applying?

I put a lot of money into this application. I put all my eggs into one basket. I know you are supposed to apply to multiple schools but honestly, I didn't want to. I know people in the department I want to go to, I've worked with some of them before, and I literally work 3 floors below them everyday. But that doesn't change the fact that I should have applied to other schools through SOPHAS. In the very least, applied to a master's program.

I'm bad at waiting. My current academic mentor, Caryn, who is currently in program said it would be around February before I found out whether I got in or not. OMG FEBRUARY?!?! Its bad enough I have been waiting since about May to start working on the application and my research paper, now I have to wait until February to even see if it paid off?

I think I'm just overreacting. I think the best part of the process is reading my recommendation letters. Well I read 2 of the 3. I legit almost cried. My boss Cheri and my previous/current boss Derrick both wrote amazing letters for me. I think it all overwhelmed me because I didn't realized how far I'd come. I didn't realize how much they valued me and I surely didn't realize how much they believed in me. Its one thing to hear it which I was lucky enough to get constant feedback from them and its another for them to tell complete strangers about how awesome I am. I think it also reminded me about just how much they mean to me. They have both been so influential in my life. They have both mentored me and given me advice and support that I will cherish forever. I really can't even put into words how much leeway they gave me. I was sure they'd both fire me multiple times, but they gave me proper feedback and more chances than I can count. They are both amazing. I love them like family. They feel like secondary parents. They both treat me like I'm their child.

Either way, I think I just need to occupy myself and stop being so hard on myself. There are people out there that believe in me and that is honestly all that matters. LETS DO THIS!!