I’m almost 25 years old and I have been on the same career path since I graduated from college. My job is stable and I work at a great company where I’ve made amazing friends. But my boss can be a real bitch sometimes. Not just in the regular annoying boss type of way, but in a way where she can be seriously unprofessional and really beat me down. I know every boss has their own set of issues, and so I try to just deal. My boss’s behavior combined with the fact that my job isn’t my passion, makes me feel stuck.
I would love to one day own an interior design business (that is my ultimate goal), but it’s scary to think about starting over again; not to mention, I have no idea where to even begin. I’d love to hear your story on how you were able to shift gears in your career and if you felt the fear that I’m feeling. If you did, Jule, how did you get over it? Anything you can share with me would be so helpful, I admire you so much!
Beaten But Not Broken
“Please bore someone else with your questions.” –Miranda Priestly, The Devil Wears Prada
While I may be in Bandier instead of Balenciaga, I am 100% channeling my inner Miranda Priestly as I write to you this morning. I might even ask my kids to start leaving a steak and a bottle of Pellegrino on my desk while I’m working.
Wanna hear something crazy, BBNB? I envy you a little bit right now. Here I sit, 47 years old, reflecting on my “younger Bee” self at the delicious age of 25, and yeah, I’m a little envious.
This week I became a boss. There are now TWO twenty-somethings working for me and for Jule The Bee. Lovely, eager, whip-smart, sweeter than my “Lazy Roasted Tomatoes” adorable women. I was once them. I was once you. And now, I’m Boss Lady. And you know what? It’s fucking hard.
I have had my fair share of bosses. Here’s the truth. The crazy ones are the ones who have set me up the most for success. Let’s get one thing straight before I launch. I am by no means suggesting that you stay in a situation where you are humiliated, picked on, or abused. I am saying that if you’re smart, you’ll use it to pivot. Stay stuck, and you’re fucked. Learn from the beast, and the keys to the kingdom will be yours. Your kingdom. Whatever that perfectly designed, interior decorated kingdom may look like to you.
I’ve been in nine-to-five jobs that have paid the bills, but have absolutely bored me into a coma. And I’ve seized that boredom to pivot. I used the rhythm of a consistent paycheck hitting my single-girl-in-Manhattan small checking account, along with the ability to punch out of a job that ends at 5:00 pm, to dive into other things that excited me.
At 22 years old, each day promptly at 5:00 pm I left that office and took two subways to my idea of heaven. The French Culinary Institute in SOHO. Every night while my friends from work headed home to lie on their couches with Chinese takeout, I tucked my knife kit under my arm and spent five grueling hours in a hotter-than-hell kitchen. I loved it. It was creative, I met incredible people, I laughed my ass off, I sobbed on numerous occasions from the stress of it all, and I found myself again. I honed in on my love of cooking, learned from master chefs including Jacques Pepin, André Soltner, and Bobby Flay. And nine months later, I graduated as a trained chef.
Me and my father at my culinary school graduation. To this day, he tells me it was the most expensive omelet tutorial he’s ever paid for.
And then I decided to do nothing with it. Not professionally anyway. But the experience changed me, and for the better. I wasn’t settling anymore, I wasn’t afraid to be challenged.
And so, on one breezy, magnificent, Sunday spring morning, I sat at my tiny glass breakfast table, red sharpie in hand. The New York Times was open in front of me, its classified section rustled in the breeze from the open window that overlooked the courtyard below. Fearlessly, I circled anything that caught my eye. And then I saw it.
“Personal assistant needed for high profile celebrity. Organizational skills are a must. Experience required.”
My fingers flew across the keyboard as I emailed the agency listed, the newspaper floated around me. I had no direct experience as an assistant, but I had all of the relevant experience in the world. And I knew how to talk and learn and listen.
An hour later, I secured an interview with the agency. The next day, I was sitting in the penthouse of all penthouses. I perched on the edge of a hand-painted Valentino dining chair and waited for her. I can still smell her apartment. I can still remember what she wore, how her iconic, raspy voice entered the room before she did. I can see her lipstick, the expanse of the skyline behind her, and most of all, I can remember how badly I wanted that job.
Careful what you wish for, younger Bee, you might actually get your way.
And I did.
Ever read The Devil Wears Prada? Ever see the movie? The first time I saw it in the theater, I had to leave halfway through, I felt physically sick. It hit way too close to home. Now, every random Saturday night that it’s on Bravo, I drink it in. I lived it, I loathed her, and now I love her and I thank her.
She was my very own Miranda Priestly. And I wouldn’t be where I am now without her.
13 torturous months later and 12 pounds thinner, I left her. And I cried when I did. AND she attended my wedding. AND I have gone to every NYC theater production she has done ever since, meeting her backstage, I hug her small frame tightly and I drink in her signature scent.
Learn from the beast and then pivot.
When I left, I left her for a major A-lister. And when I told her who I was leaving her for, I saw the flash of hurt behind her withering gaze.
“Hmmmm..” she chewed on my distasteful piece of news like a fatty piece of meat. “Good luck with THAT one.”
I would have never had that next opportunity without her.
Learn from the beast, pivot.
When Madden was just a baby we had a Brazilian nanny named Flavi who worked for us. We all adored her, and when she and her fiancé headed back to Brazil, we were all crushed. I will never forget overhearing a conversation she had with Madden’s new nanny one afternoon as she transitioned and trained her in his nursery.
“Julianne is tough.” Flavi told her. “Tough, but fair. Anything she asks you to do, she does herself and more.”
I think about this now as I sink into my new role as “boss”. I think about it each day as I navigate, delegate, and relinquish some control. As I learn two new personalities, I’m making sure to show appreciation, but I’m also learning to stop apologizing for having high expectations. The same expectations my very own Miranda Priestly had of me all those years ago, the same expectations that I have of myself in all that I do today.
You said it yourself, BBNB, every boss has their challenges. And I will have mine. But in the end when these lovelies leave me one day, and they will, I hope they admire, respect, and maybe even love their own BEEast a little bit too and then pivot to something greater.
Now, “By all means, move at a glacial pace. You know how that thrills me.”
BEE your own boss in Jule’s Bandier outfit and don’t forget her favorite desk and boss babe essentials!
Dating getting you down? Friendship in a frenzy? Mother-in-law making you mashugana ?? Nothing is off limits. Everything is anonymous. Ask The Bee HERE!
All illustrations by @courtneycoloring