Pastor Dan and my New Year’s Resolution

I made my first New Years resolution this year. Below is the story of how I made it.

In the autumn of last year I started auditing a few sermons at my friends church at Jarvis and Carlton. I was initially hooked from my friends description of the Church’s pastor, Dan. In a previous life Dan was a cut-throat litigator and was paid the big bucks to argue – and win.

Like any good story, Dan had a change of heart, found his true calling and we arrive back at 10:30am one Sunday morning last autumn.

My friend’s promises of Dan were right. He was amazing.

His oration was flawless. Like a well though out song he crescendoed and softened at just the right moments and he never missed a beat. It was truly amazing to listen to. Dan if you’re reading this, I would consider transforming your skills into some kind of revenue stream ’cause that larynx is Morgan Freeman/James-Earl Jones/Alan Rickman level amazing.

Not surprisingly, Pastor Dan had a talent for driving all his talking points home into some overarching lesson. On this particular Sunday morning, the lesson happened to be about young millennials and their often skewed relationship to their professional identities. Pastor Dan mentioned a millennial’s tendency to become trapped in a cycle of entering into and continuing in professional fields not for self-fulfillment, but as ways to posture and ‘professionally flex’ in front our colleagues. Granted, this wonderful notion of careers for enjoyment’s sake is sometimes and unfortunately much easier said than done, but I did know that at least in my case, Dan was totally correct.

I was so struck by Pastor Dan’s lecture because at the time I had just graduated and was working at a high end department store making barely enough to cover my rent. Funny thing was, my social media told a completely different story and I had anxiety at social gatherings in fear that someone would ask the million dollar question; “so what do you do?”

Pastor Dan’s sermon made me realize that at some point I had made this internal comprise where I had become comfortable with being utterly disingenuous in order to spare myself the shame of admitting that I hadn’t figured out what I wanted to do. It was lame and it was embarrassing. When I look back, I realized to my horror that along the way I left an amazing serving job that earned me over $1000/week for the title of Personal Shopping Assistant that paid $15/hour.

You God damned idiot (Sorry Dan).

Fast forward to 2018, ’twas a week before Christmas… and I was fired. I had been introduced to a different company in high end retail, was offered a better sounding and higher paying position and never looked back. The feeling of relief was remarkable, and not just at the prospect of financial stability, but oddly more so for the peace of mind that came with knowing that I’d have an answer to the “what do you do?” question.

Maybe it was N’Sync Christmas songs from November, maybe it was Black Friday, maybe it was even people thinking they had the right to treat me like trash over a sweater…who can say…but my varnish was flaking and my performance suffered as a result. Every day I walked into work I became a little more disillusioned by the whole thing. Retail was no longer fun, it was a scam that tricked people into spending money they don’t have on things they don’t need. In retrospect, I don’t blame anyone but myself. It was a pretty savage move to be fired 1 WEEK before Christmas, but I get it. I was morphing into a communist by the hour and thats not necessarily conductive in a fast-fashion environment. Either way, sleeping in on Boxing Day was the best gift I ever could have gotten and then the company’s CEO died a week later and I was like “Karma…she keeps receipts”.

So what can I conclude from my moral platitudes?

Can I be petty? Absolutely.

Do I have my life figured out? Not at all. And I think its okay to admit that now.

Back in 2007, a US poll found that the average person changed careers three times in their life. Last year, that same person could expect to hold 12-15 careers in the same time. Having that kind of perspective makes you question why we get so caught up on our mishaps and set-backs.

Tradition dictates that we must see the start of the New Year as the start of a new beginning. I personally think that New Years resolutions are kind of a copout because you’ve had 364 other days to start your diet, but its not like I can resolve to be a better employee at this point.

My resolution is to be honest with not only myself, but with my peers also. That goal requires exercises in managing my expectations, being kinder to myself, and minimizing how much I compare myself to others if for no other reason than because it is exhausting to live in the shadows of other peoples opinions of you.

In celebration of my new resolution, allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Hillary Robyn Burke, I am 26 years old. I try to go to the gym every day, I volunteer when I can, the last book I read was a Jack Kerouac novel that I did not understand and I watch Ken Burns documentaries for fun. I don’t really know what I want to do yet, but I do know that I will never work in retail again.

Can I get an Amen!









Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s