"The Art of Being a PITA" Book Review
A stable job. Vacation days. Benefits. Consistent co-workers. Same schedule day after day, week after week, month after… you get it.
Or maybe you don’t. Shanah Bell never did. From an early age, her “hard-learner” style set her on an unconventional path to multiple jobs, multiple skill sets, multiple work styles, and multiple levels of thriving.
In her new book, The Art of Being a PITA, recently released by Wisdom House Books, Shanah shares her story with the reader in a way that makes you feel like you’re on a road trip or a hike with her and she’s just talking. Many writers struggle with voice, but Shanah nails it. She is wise and insightful, yet light and fun. I jumped on board and enjoyed the journey as she recounted her jobs, sometimes up to 10 at once.
I can relate. About five years ago, I stepped away from the stability of working for a large corporation in financial services to do exactly what Shanah has done her whole life. About six months earlier, I’d taken on a 3-9-hour-a-week sales associate job at Macy’s. I generally worked one evening shift a week and a weekend day. Although I was over 40, this was my first foray into retail.
Shanah’s first mall job in retail was at the age of 15. In the chapter, “Still at the Mall,” she writes that her father advised her to have the next job lined up before she quit one. Great advice, Dad!
The book has 57 chapters with each representing a job she’s held. The beauty is that she has a “What I Learned” page for each job. Just let that set in: 57 jobs.
When I quit my full-time job, I increased my hours at Macy’s, was working as a meeting room leader for Weight Watchers, was doing one-on-one tutoring, and was also teaching English as a Second Language at the community college. Eventually the Macy’s job turned into a full-time retail management job, which was an incredible experience, and a few of the other jobs fell away.
My favorite blend of my jobs was the day job plus the retail job because the settings, people, situations were so diverse that the retail job was pure fun. Diversity is what it’s all about and Shanah gets that, too! I never let anything get to me in that job (well, until I became a manager!) because it was just helping people find clothes.
What Shanah does best is create an alternative perspective to the common belief that we have one job in one field and that’s it. I think this concept might be hard for people to wrap their heads around, but I get it. I have lived in 6 states in the last 20 years. When I think of someone who has lived in the same house for 20 years, I can’t even imagine what that must be like. And I’m sure they’re looking at me just as curiously!
If 57 jobs sounds overwhelming, you’ll love Shanah’s take on it. She very eloquently sums it up with the strategy of finding your why first and then you’ll never have to wonder because you’ll be working on purpose.
(c) 2019 Catherine M. Greenspan