I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve noticed that cacti are really popular right now. It’s the really hipster, cool thing to own right now. Succulents. There has to be something to be said about the fact that millennial are really into plants that require minimal care-taking responsibility. I’m sure some millennial-hating geriatric has already written extensively on this topic as they have about avocado toast, but bear with me a moment because to me, cacti are something way bigger than low-maintenance houseplants.
I had a really insightful chat with a woman who I really admire the other day. We’ll call her Inez. I had come to speak to her about a job, and instead of just saying yes we have openings or no we don’t have openings, we talked a lot about me. We talked about her. She asked me about my strengths. What am I good at? What gives me energy? For someone else looking in, it probably seemed really frufru and fluffy, but it really resonated with me.
You see, I have been frantically searching for a full time job for some time now. It’s driven me to the point of hysteria at times. I have been applying for all jobs, for any job, grateful for any opportunity to become gainfully employed. A job is a job, and beggars can’t be choosers right? I have received rejection after rejection and more often deafening silence. It has been profoundly frustrating and has forced me to re-examine everything I thought I knew about myself. I’ve finished my Masters degree and will graduate this year. I am a qualified human being—I speak three languages and can understand two others. I have employable skills! I like to think I’m friendly and approachable. I like to think that I’m bringing something to the party, so to speak. So what have I been doing wrong?
When I spoke to Inez, she encouraged me to map out my strengths and put together the profile of the perfect job, I was thrown for a loop. I hadn’t expected this. She gently chastised me for blindly applying for every job that came across my radar. What she made me realise is that perhaps what I’ve been doing wrong is the way I’ve been approaching job applications. I have tried to no avail to morph myself into something acceptable, something resembling a flower—that looks pretty and smells nice and fits in the garden when really, I am not a flower. I am a cactus. I am a bit prickly on the outside, overwhelming with my energy sometimes to strangers. I’m not delicate, nor do I smell perfectly perfumed at all times. But what I am is resilient. I am strong. I am not easily bent. I stand for things. I do not conform. I require little maintenance and I am happy to reach my goals unsupervised. I even grow beautiful flowers and produce really great work, work that I am proud to put my name on. I am a cactus.
So rather than trying so desperately to be a flower, I’ve decided to approach my job hunt—and life in general—from a different angle. I will no longer be trying to convince employers or people in my life that I can be one of them, that I can look or be a certain way. Instead, I’m going to sell them on the perks of being a cactus. I am going to let them know why they need me and what value I bring for them. I am cactus, hear me roar! Feel free to pick up a prickly friend at your local hipster, millenial dwelling.