Vector Marketing, Harvard, and a Certain Ex-Boyfriend

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile then you remember that I applied to Harvard back in the fall and got rejected.

You also might remember that I had a boyfriend for awhile, who then broke up with me, and I have since devoted an inordinate number of posts to telling the blogosphere my latest thoughts on that matter.

The remaining part of the title is Vector Marketing. For anybody who’s unfamiliar with that name, they’re the company who sells Cutco knives in the US. I got a letter from them a few weeks ago, inviting me to apply for various customer service/sales positions. Last week I applied. They kind of lied – it was mostly sales positions. Anyway, without quite knowing what kind of job it was I got the job. Well, a job. And I spent the next two days sitting on uncomfortable plastic chairs with blistering feet and drooping eyelids, trying to be interested in why some knives work better than others. I am still not sure why I even stuck it out that long.

So when the time came to actually start cold-calling my family and friends and saying, “Hey, I’ve got knives to sell you,” I had to, after much deliberation, go in this morning and say, “I am not a good fit for this job.” And then listen to the guy I was talking to tell me that it’s not calling people up and saying hey I have things to sell you. Lies. It totally is. It is a blatant sales pitch. Anyway, so I quit this morning, after two unbearably hot days sitting in a room full of people 80 percent of whom are destined to be used-car salesmen. Shudder. Not very fun.

Now here’s what those three things had in common. Vector Marketing, Harvard and my ex-boyfriend don’t have much to do with each other on a daily basis. I’m guessing. Unless they’re all in cahoots and running Operation Help Red Learn How to Deal With Rejection and Approach Opportunities With More Discretion. Which is basically what I need to do. Think of it this way.

Harvard’s letter appears in my mailbox. It’s an opportunity that is, in substance, what I’m looking for – a potential college which sees me as a potential student. But I didn’t stop to wonder whether Harvard itself was somewhere I really wanted to be.

Hannah says to me at a basketball game that she and Tanner have been talking about the fact that they both think Matt and I should date. It’s an opportunity that is, in substance, what I’m looking for – a potential boyfriend who sees me as a potential girlfriend. But I didn’t stop to wonder whether Matt himself was somebody I really wanted to be with.

Vector Marketing says to me post-interview that they are excited to offer me a position with the team. It’s an opportunity that is, in substance, what I’m looking for – a potential employer who sees me as a potential employee. But I didn’t stop to wonder whether or not sales itself was something I really wanted to do.

The other interesting thing about all of these is that it’s basically the same on either side. Harvard sent out thousands of letters. They never stopped to wonder whether they were sending those letters to students they really wanted to teach. Matt listened to Tanner and Hannah too. He never stopped to wonder whether Red was actually a person he wanted to be with. And Vector just wanted somebody to take a spot on their team. They didn’t quite consider whether or not I was really a person who could handle being on their team. That one’s a little different – they wanted me on their team, but they didn’t consider that I might not be right for it.

One of my favorite accounts on Twitter is Advice Mallard, which once tweeted, “Your criteria for dating someone should not be based primarily on their being interested in you.” That spoke to me because it was shortly after Matt and I broke up, and that was something we did wrong – we dated because we thought the other liked us, not because we actually liked each other.

In almost all of these situations, I just took the opportunity because it was, in substance, what I had said I wanted. A job. A boyfriend. High-end colleges after me. And in nearly every case I kind of made it inconvenient for other people. Vector had to take the hit when I dropped from their sales team. My guidance counselor had to write a Secondary School report and administer a whole other set of tests to me, by myself – reports and tests required by a college I didn’t get into; a couple of my teachers had to do an online recommendation for me for a college I didn’t get into. I messed with Matt’s feelings/heart/head/emotional conscience/whatever he uses for this stuff. I was rather inconsiderate, and I paid for it too. (Although I don’t think Harvard was much bothered or insulted by me applying when I wasn’t qualified.)

The other interesting thing is that nearly all of these opportunities were sort of dropped in my lap.

And when I compare them to other opportunities that I worked towards, like becoming the editor  or going to Sjolunden credit or being in jazz choir, those all worked out much better. The only drop-in-your-lap opportunity that really worked out for me was jazz band, and I actually thought about it a couple months before I actually did it, then told my director “no, not right now,” then came back to it. And not all of these are perfect analogies, but who gives.

And I am sure there is nothing to say that drop-in-your-lap opportunities are a bad idea. Look at jazz band. It’s just that I need to do better research and think more wisely and ask more questions before I accept a drop-in-your-lap opportunity as opposed to one I know I want.

So the only thing that didn’t make it to the Things Learned from Senior Year list:

182. Do your damn research, and figure out what you want.

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