Last night I went to bed proclaiming on Twitter how today was going to “totally rock”. It very well might be rocking, underneath the things I can see and hear, and maybe I won’t find out about that rocking until tomorrow, or the next day, or next month.
Because on the outside, today looks like one big giant slap in the face, and a reminder of all the impacts that preceded it.
Some of you may know that I’ve been job hunting for a long time. I worked for about a decade before returning to university, and worked full- and part-time jobs around and during university, and volunteered. I graduated with a 1st class film BA, one of 3 on my year. Granted, I was a mature student and 31 by then, but I was really proud of my achievement given my stop-start cycle of university in the US. (My problem had been never being able to decide on which course to follow, because I was interested in so much; therefore, I ended up wavering and putting it on hold to take time off. Only a true miracle allowed me to financially return to university, and to do it in the UK, but that’s a story for another day!).
Despite London work experience in the film industry, and a work experience placement I scored at the BBC, as well as temp work in publishing, I have been applying for and looking at jobs nearly every day since early 2010. I’m still not on a career path.
My writing has totally FLOURISHED, though, with the amount of time spent honing my craft, learning from others, and writing going through the roof. I’m so grateful, in a way, for my delayed transition to a career because it’s given me time to do what I’ve wanted to do all my life.
And the unrealistic, stubborn side of me believes writing COULD become my career, as I can’t think of anything that would make me more content. But right now, I need to earn money, and I’d like to do it in a role that some of my education and work experiences would lend themselves to, in publishing, the arts, etc. You’d think employers would be keen to hire a more mature grad, but one of the many troubles seems to be they’re unwilling to consider us older folks because they assume we’ll require a heftier salary than a 22-year-old.
Today’s news was that an internship at a prestigious academic publisher in Scotland (where we plan to relocate to) has been cancelled. I was invited for an interview – my first interview in MONTHS – right before my birthday. The day after, I bought £155 last-minute train tickets to Scotland, and then the interview was postponed. I was told it would definitely be rescheduled, after Wednesday. 2+ weeks went by, my train tickets sent back to Virgin for a refund lost by Royal Mail, so I’m out £155, and I’d heard nothing about the rescheduled interview. (Don’t get me started on Virgin Trains or Royal Mail. Suffice it to say, “the customer is always right” is NOT a British sentiment.)
So I called and called. No answer. I emailed and found out the lady who was meant to interview me went on holiday for a month, and finally another woman emailed me back to say the internship was no longer running. How would I have found this out? Why didn’t they tell me before? Why is this all somewhat fishy?
Truth is, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how I react. Immediately, I called my husband and began sobbing…not just because this seemed like the opportunity – in the right city, the right industry, at an organisation I respect – that I’d been waiting for, but because this is the last disappointment in a long, frustrating, difficult time in my life. I’m terrified that being 34 means I won’t be employable as a “recent graduate”. After calming down, I have to say that maybe this simply wasn’t the right opportunity after all. Something better could come along.
And while it’s trite to say that, I’d rather think and hope it then let bitterness take root. It has in the past, and it’s never done me any good. Has it for you? Some may call bitterness or disappointment “being realistic”. But if more and more studies show that worrying, negativity, and anger causes all kinds of physical maladies, then I would much rather choose the former. It is difficult – I had that initial cry and I’m certainly not jumping for joy right now (in fact, a friend on Twitter told me something good could be right around the corner, and my reply was, “Something good is; I’ve got a bottle of cab in the kitchen”). I’m just going to try to call this what it is: another turn in the road. I’m thankful God is in control, not me, because even if I had control I think it’s pretty clear I wouldn’t know what to do with it.
Trying to change your outlook when you’ve had it all your life is incredibly hard, as any 10-step-program follower can probably tell you. I fall prey to disappointment and usually let it point out all my flaws, what I could’ve done better, etc., because that’s what perfectionists do. But this time, I’m calling myself out on it. The positive from all this is that I was offered the interview in the first place. I rewrote my CV from scratch, got feedback on my cover letter, and bam, first thing I really wanted, I was called to interview for. So rather than holding onto my disappointment that the role doesn’t exist anymore, I need to, as Eric Idle so helpfully reminded me during the Olympics Closing Ceremony, always look on the bright side of life.
(For the record, the Spice Girls, Eric, and the Who were my favourite bits of the evening. 🙂
Whatever you’re going through right now, in your long wait for good news, I challenge you to try to approach it differently than you always have in the past. Because if your way didn’t make you happier in the past, maybe it’s time for a change.
“A man is not hurt so much by what happens, as by his opinion of what happens.”
-Michel de Montaigne