“Stop dress-rehearsing tragedy.”

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Yes, an, early-in-the-week, shoutout to Brené Brown. And rightfully so. If you are job searching, you know that radio silence at 5:00PM EST on a Friday afternoon is just about the worst thing for an individual’s anxiety and general weekend happiness. You will also agree that there are only so many times an individual can refresh their email before they ultimately close their computer with great frustration. I’ve certainly had my own fair share of computer-closing conundrums.

A watched pot never boils.

Have you ever heard this phrase? Lame, right? True, right? Scary, right? Real, right?

Yes, to all of these things. And similarly, a watched pot still won’t boil, even in spite of this post. Alas, moving forward. I touched on my current job search a few weeks back, and my sentiments are still just as valid today as they were then. When you submit to job searching, you release basically all of the control associated with your current reality. The, “You’re interviewing them just as much as they’re interviewing you,” adage is nice, however the truth is, they still have to provide you with the opportunity. Sure, you can be exploring whether or not there is a fit associated with said-job, however none of this really matters if they haven’t made an official offer.

You just need one offer.

I had this moment around a year ago with a former student who I advised and mentored. This superstar individual was discouraged when the vast majority of peers around her were interviewing for 5-10 assistantships and jobs at 4-6 different institutions. Without hesitation, I pushed back, asking specifically, “How many institutions and schools do you need as a final outcome?”

“One,” she muttered back at me, with great resistance.

Yes, one. Of course, choice is nice, however at the end of the day, choice is basically just a conjured up expectation of the privilege we hold in having most things go our way (speaking generally, that is). How is it that we are at this point as persons and professionals where we have to have dozens and dozens of choices in order to know if one is “the right one?” When I was in graduate school, I was always so turned off by the peers in my cohort who had 15-25 interviews for various jobs. Yes, 15-25. How they did the research alone for each job is beyond me, however I can’t help but just prefer a more limited pool of options. The beauty (beautiful disaster, for some) of a limited choice is that you never truly know if you’re making the right one. And you don’t need a massive amount of options to have this understanding. Ultimately, you just need one – one assistantship, one institution, one job, one opportunity. This was certainly the case for the student I formerly advised, and she would later achieve that post-grad milestone with ease. You just need one.

Now, despite my own advice to former students and current friends and colleagues, I still cannot seem to apply my guidance to my own search. For example, I spend a bit of time every day, trolling through old emails, and attempting to read between the lines of some of the email exchanges I have had with potential employers.

They said, “…end of this week, early next week,” but what the hell does that mean?

What is, “early?” 

Should I reach out?

Do they know I really want this?

Do they know I am so much more than what my resume reveals?

Should I send them a copy of my resume in emoji-form

Am I good enough?

This is typically my thinking as I challenge nearly every aspect of the various processes I am experiencing. Thankfully, I know I am not alone in this delusion. And to be honest, we have to stop doing this to ourselves. We have to stop job searching as a game, collecting interviews as trophies. We have to stop measuring our professional worth by the number of interviews we receive. We have to stop creating choice when we actually have a better understanding of standards and expectations, and how these values play out in our own professional preferences. I discovered this “ah-ha” just before I went to graduate school for higher education. I remember sitting in the interview holding room with other candidates, and overhearing one individual in particular talk of having six assistantship interviews lined up over the course of the weekend. Shortly after this declaration, he also made it very clear that there was only one job he would take, regardless of how well the other opportunities were presented. This pissed me off. I had made friends that weekend with individuals who had just one interview, and some coming to the Midwest to interview from as far as both coasts. And, sadly, this interview-collecting individual would later become shining example of many more annoying colleagues to come.

And here I am, half a decade later, navigating through the murkiness yet again. But this time, the murk feels good. Well, yes, it is scary and unpredictable, but it feels good. Trusting the process feels good. One, feels good. And that’s all I (you, we) need: one. I was affirmed of this recently when one of my best friends posted about some of her own journey. She, too, is sifting through the murky waters with me, dealing with her own layers of transition. I have cited her blog before, and stand by my belief that she is one of the most brave and inspiring individuals I have ever known. She recently posted some specifics related to her own search, a lot of which aligns with many of my own “ah-ha” moments. No process is the same.

For all those job searching, job switching, or anyone who merely lives curious enough to leave their current position and head on to the next, stop dress-rehearsing tragedy. Know that you are good enough, worthy enough, and talented enough. You are enough. Pause and find the good in this moment. Just as my friend is finding a change of pace, I wish you the same solace and understanding. Patience. I wish you patience. Hold on. Breathe. Stress…but not too much. Be invested. Read between the lines. Be unconventional, be passionate. And, above all else, remember you just need one.

One is all you need.

Patiently pausing,

Michael

5 thoughts on ““Stop dress-rehearsing tragedy.”

  1. Michael! It’s been so long since we’ve talked, but I wanted to thank you for this post. It was so on-time for me. I’ve been unemployed for the last three months in a volatile professional industry (politics) — not super uncommon, but I haven’t really experienced a break like this yet in my career. I made the difficult decision to leave Washington, DC and return “home” to Atlanta, GA (#NativeOklahoman) to pursue a relationship that means a lot to me, though Atlanta isn’t really teeming with professional opportunities for someone with my skill set and interests. Suffice to say, I’ve been applying and applying and interviewing and interviewing, and I haven’t been getting the traction here I have in the past. I was starting to feel low because I was equating their rejection with my self-worth and professional skill. It wasn’t until I stopped and focused on what was important that I came to the same conclusion you did — I have everything I need within me to get to where I want to go. Coming across your post was just confirmation that my steps are being guided and ordered, and that the Universe is still protecting me and conspiring for my success.

    Thanks for your words and for your work — know that your story is reaching and touching countless people. I’m so glad to see you’re doing well, and look forward to seeing what’s next for both of us 🙂

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    • Michael! Ah, this is such a treat – so glad to hear from you. Please know this, the Universe is absolutely conspiring to assist you, my friend! I believe it! I have been watching and tracking your life the past decade, and I cannot think of a better human out there ready to be hired. Time and patience are ass holes, but once we embrace them, they’re our best asset. And, I am glad to be in this whole gig with you – we are in this together, that’s for sure! Sending TONS of good vibes and support – HUGS! Cannot wait to smile over this in the coming months once we both land exactly where we are supposed to be next (because, now, we are also exactly where we are supposed to be – more to come on that, right?). xxoo

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  2. I love Brene! She also recommends that when you are “dress rehearsing tragedy” to be grateful.

    I am so grateful for you. To have someone else in the job search process. To find connection over being lost and confused about what is coming up next. I am grateful that I have the internet to job search. I am grateful that the interviews I’ve had have helped me evaluate what I do want and what I don’t want. I am grateful that I am learning so much about myself, and excitement and heartbreak through this experience.

    Like

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