Monday, October 15, 2012

[Unemployed Life]: An 'Interview' Worst Case Scenario

We all probably know what it's like to go on job interviews.  It's one giant nerve-wracking, anxiety-ridden, self-confidence killing some odd hours, no matter how often you're told to think of it "like you're interviewing them."  Because that bullshit?  It doesn't work.

In the best cases, you love the place you're interviewing with.  The people are phenomenal, the job sounds even better in person than it does on paper, and you're pretty sure you've got this one in the bag because, come on, you're super friggin' qualified for it.  If this has been your experience, leave now because I think I hate you.  (Okay, you don't have to leave, but you do have to go sit in the corner quietly where I can't see or hear you.)

In the worst cases (and hint hint, this post is really about the worst cases), you wonder why you even showed up -- to like, LIFE -- to begin with.  You get there, and you know right away that this wouldn't be your ideal working environment.  It's quiet, no chatter, not a whole lot of natural light.  And where the heck is everyone?  You can't help comparing it to other places that have seemed  But then you think, whatever, the work is amazing -- truly, truly amazing -- so you'll deal.  Plus, think of the income!  The health care!  The gym membership!  In your head, you've already pictured those things as yours.  You've gone down this dangerous road a million times in the last week and now it's too late to stop it.  Your hopes are up, and it's a long way down from here.

So there you are, sitting in an empty waiting room reading last years annual report while the previous interview wraps up, and you realize that that interview has gone over the allotted time.  In your now-rattled mind, this must mean that interview is going swimmingly.  They must love this person.  You picture the interviewers laughing and listening intently, inspired by what your competition is saying, thinking that all the rest of the interviews are pointless because this person is it.  This makes your hands sweat a little bit, which is gross.  No one wants to shake hands with sweaty girl.  You wipe them off on the pant legs of the partial suit you're wearing, and you're reminded of how much you don't want to work at a place that requires pant suits.  Ever.

And then you're up.  You walk in, and there are three people in the conference room you're interviewing in.  And while they're seated casually around a glossy wood table, you're not fooled, you recognize a firing squad when you see one.  So it begins.  Hi, how are you.  Why don't we tell you more about the position.  Their intelligence is intimidating.  Your youth -- or maybe just the fact that, for a 28 year old, you look 16 -- makes you feel at a disadvantage already.  They've done so much!  They're world-renowned, well-traveled, published, seasoned vets in an arena you've only started to dip your toes in!  Then they want to know more about you.  Why do you feel singularly qualified for this position?  What will you bring to this work?  What have you done in your [short, limited] career that has prepared you for the rigors of this job and field?  You answer, but the words don't sound right to your ears.  You sound unsure of yourself, like you're trying to persuade them.  You try to reign yourself in, to tell yourself to just be you.  But you're asked questions you didn't anticipate.  The job requires qualifications you don't have.  You find yourself stuttering over and over, "I'm sorry, I don't have any experience with that," and "No, I've never worked on this sort of thing before."  It's misstep after misstep until finally, one of the interviewers takes pity on you.  They look over your cover letter once more, then look up and smile.  They say some nice things, trying to either bolster your confidence or remind you of your own damn work experience.  And you realize that this, this hail Mary life raft, maybe worse than if they'd just let you flounder, because now you really know you're screwed.

At a certain point, it becomes funny.  You start picturing what it would look like if you ran screaming from the room, arms flailing, heels clapping over the linoleum floor, hair -- which was once perfectly coiffed -- in mad disarray.  You wonder briefly if the endless hour of questions you couldn't answer has made you hysterical, or if it's just a byproduct of your self-esteem bottoming out.

Eventually, it ends.  You shake hands with the firing squad, realizing dimly that this interview was significantly shorter than the last (the one that ran over as you waited in the lobby), and that they're trying to let you leave almost as quickly as you're trying to get out of there.  They were nice people, nicer still because of the warm smiles they give you as you're led out.  This makes you wonder if it's obvious how badly you want to laugh maniacally just to make sure you don't start crying.  You feel stupid.  You feel incompetent.  You feel embarrassed, which is probably worst of all.

But then you get out in the fresh air.  You take a deep breath, text your boyfriend to say that you've got one hell of a story for him, and check your watch to make sure you're not going to be late getting back to your part-time job.  You square your shoulders, tell yourself that you'll get one good cry later tonight with a bottle of wine, and smile.

It was probably the worst interview of your life.  But things can only go up from here, right?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Daily Inspiration

Friends, I'm writing again.  More on this to come, but if you have a glass please raise it up because this is cause for some serious celebration.

[Photo source:]

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Oncoming Overwhelm and Why People Should be Nicer to Women

Was it just me, or was last week an "off" week?  Did anyone else feel like that?

It probably started on Saturday.  Some friends and I went to a Renaissance Faire (shut up, you know you wish you were this cool) to, you know, eat turkey legs and people watch, and I was just not with it.  I was with two of my favorite people and just kept feeling like a total spaz.  I was lost in my own head, not really a part of the day.  I felt myself tuning in and out of conversation, thinking about things that had nothing to do with jousting, dirty jokes or palm reading.  The day, in the end, was wasted on me since I just couldn't pull my shit together and rally. 

Then the week began and my work email hosting service bested me in the worst possible way.  What was initially supposed to be the quick task of migrating mail from one host to two others (because I'm stupid and picky and want to use the calendar on one service and the mail on another.  Don't ask.) ended up being me, four hours later, screaming at my computer, close to tears as Nate ignores his work and frantically tries retrieve all the email I somehow deleted from one account and accomplish the fucking impossible by getting it into another account.  I hate my email.  We're still not on speaking terms and my messages are still not where I need them to be.

So there was that.

Then it was just a bunch of other little things.  It was my first week working solo in my part-time position and there's always a learning curve, but the little mistakes made while learning new processes always makes me feel incompetent.  And an author Nate and I love spoke on the same night as the first Presidential debate and we had to choose which to see.  We chose to debate which, after watching it, obviously WE CHOSE WRONG.

Finally, on Thursday things just got weird.  Let me preface by saying I only had one cup of coffee.  One cup.  So there I am, alone in the office, trying to get through a stack of things, listening to Pandora, and I'm positively jittery.  I am giggly and fidgety, dancing around in my rolling chair, lip syncing like I was Milli Vanilli.  I mean, I was having a moment.  And to cap off this shining moment, I got a call back about a pretty sweet job that I applied for.  They want to interview me so yay!  Celebrate!  Fast-forward three hours later and I'm practically crying.  Did something happen, you ask?  Did I get some bad news?  Did I make some horrible misstep at work?  You guys.  Nothing is clear at this point except that I am AN EMOTIONAL BASKET CASE.

And so there I am, no longer dancing, no longer feeling like Milli Vanilli, and I start thinking of the week, of the fact that this overwhelm has been building for days.  I should have seen this coming, right?  And that's interesting, because there's really not a whole lot for me to feel overwhelmed about right now.  So what is it?

Why am I feeling super irrational, super emotional, super just a big fucking mess?

Ohhh, PMS.  You.  Win.

Once I actually realized what was going on, my choices for dealing became absolutely clear.  I cancelled all plans I had for the weekend -- which, unfortunately, included a free bluegrass concert in the park where The Civil Wars were playing -- and told Nate that we were going to take it easy, get out of town, and spend some time together.  I wanted as low-stress of a two-days as humanly possible.  No crowds, no big productions, just peace and quiet and time to let the overwhelm settle, let the hormones run their course.

It's Sunday, and I'm feeling like a brand new woman.

Lessons learned?  Be intentional with your time.  Listen to yourself enough to recognize what it is you need at that moment, and then give it to yourself.

And also, be nicer to women.  We are fucking champions.
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