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.