How many jobs are too many?

We played a little icebreaker game with the new recruits of our United Way GenNext Cabinet. You must have heard of it – 2 truths and a lie. I incorporated a little statement about my job status. It was a wow factor. So I used it again at the company social hour. This time, I was challenged. Someone called my bluff.

Yes, I did have 23 paid jobs. I counted them.

I started my first job in 2006. It was a hot summer, sticky and wild. I used to work night shifts and had to walk through an empty field before stepping on the paved road to that apartment we rented.

I was helping out at a sushi restaurant. They did teach me how to make beef tatake. And I sliced my fingers prepping those lemon wedges. Mum saw the size of the cut and decided that was the end of my sous chef career.

No complaint was made. The empty field, and those giant hares who used to stand under the moonlight spacing out into the dark night freaked me out. When I close my eyes, I can still picture their majestic silhouettes, glowing in the weeds.

Perhaps that wasn’t a good start of my career life. Or perhaps young adults are easily distracted. My first five Canadian years were segregated by short-lived retail and hospitality gigs. Back in the 00s, getting a job would only take a couple weeks. Personality seemed to outweigh qualifications.

If you knew me 15 years ago, I could tell you all the secrets in a Big Mac. And if I want, I bet I can still make an average latte with some basic drawing, or a frozen yogurt cone with a lopsided twist.

My closet is arranged by colour and pattern, thanks to the time I spent watching my talented merchandizing colleagues making magic.

My husband wouldn’t let me measure him, but little did he know I was one of the OG traveling tailors at Indochino’s first pop-up shop in 2011. Of course I won’t tell you the Canucks were there.

Among those talents, I like to brag the most about my brief experience as a babysitter/antique shop associate. You guessed correctly, the father of the baby owned an antique shop. It was in the heart of Kerrisdale.

We used to have chitchats about history over afternoon tea. The designs, and imperfections and the stories behind each object in his collection. Sometimes he’d have friends bring biscuits over to kill time. I often had to step out to take the baby for a stroll, letting the gentle summer sunlight kiss the baby’s bare feet.

Last week I biked through that neighbourhood. The shop was no longer there. I think I once saw my old boss in another antique store in Steveston. He must have relocated. I wonder how his baby boy is now.

If it wasn’t because of those random part time jobs, I wouldn’t be able to try out different majors in college. They paid my tuition. They bought me time and freedom. My parents had already lost track of my education status by year 3.

Granted, I am far behind many of my high school and university friends. Some of them are running their own businesses. Some have been working with a large organization for almost a decade. Then I look at myself who just had an epiphany about a year ago. That appears to be a late bloomer to me, would you say?

Do I regret wasting precious time on meaningless jobs? Maybe a little. But I wouldn’t call them meaningless just yet.

Plus, I could never control where my heart wants to go. At least now I can tell you what I like and what I absolutely have zero interest in. That’s one benefit of having had 23 different jobs.

I made mistakes along the way and indeed learnt some life lessons the hard way. I would still prefer my amateur life. It was a simpler time. I could make friends at work and trust them.

Nowadays, I am playing mind games almost as good as I can do my job. That, is exhausting.

23 is a big number. It’s probably 15 too many for any LinkedIn profile. But it makes me 15 times cooler if you have the time for my stories. You will see I am not a blank canvas.

So, let’s save the rest of the stories for another time, shall we?