I have applied to 95 jobs in the Seattle area since January. That’s 95 resumes and cover letters sent. Almost 100 different times someone has either put my information in the round-file or called for an interview that ended with a maybe.
I used to be a medium-sized fish swimming in a relatively small pond. Now it seems I may be a tiny fish in a large lake, or the Sound in this case. The thought that I am in over my head has not escaped me. It haunts me and appears as a pale face behind mine in the mirror every morning while I get ready for the day, whispering insecurities into my ear.
“You are not that great of a writer,” …. “You are mediocre at best,” …. “You don’t have the proper experience and education,” … “You are two steps away from failing at all of this,” … “Just settle for the lower end job, it’s where you belong,” …. “You knew you were never as smart as you appear to be.”
I had a chance to help a veteran write his story about his multiple deployments over seas and his life dealing with PTSD back in February. I thirsted for the chance to write a book. But after many phone calls and one in person interview, I never received a call back.
I interviewed with a regional newspaper in the area at the start of spring. The job fit my needs perfectly and was an opportunity to start making a new name for myself in a new place. After four video-chat interviews and many emails, I was denied the job. Why? I’m not 100 percent sure. Most likely it was due to the fact that;
1. I was not yet in the area and wouldn’t be until mid-summer and
2. One of the larger papers in the region recently laid-off a batch of reporters, some of which had been in the business for almost 20 years so I was contending against some veterans of the trade.
Either way, I cried for the rest of the afternoon.
Recently I interviewed for a job that seemed very promising, only to be referred to another job which might not be available at all. “Dammit” I thought. I wallowed a bit while my husband rubbed my back and then I put on my name tag for my part-time, entry level job, pulled my hair back and grinned through it. I told myself it could be worse.
But the face still haunts me.
My mother mailed me my copy of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed that I had let my little sister borrow for a school project. I cracked open the book and opened up to a quote I had highlighted a couple years back.
“I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”
― Cheryl Strayed,
I took three days and secluded myself in my small, old apartment and let myself suffer in silence. I purged the doubt, the self-pity, the frustration and the angst. I asked the hard questions; Why did I decide to leave my safe job? Why did I move away from all of my friends, family and resources? Why did I pursue an art / profession that is unappreciated, underpaid and where jobs scarce? Will I be able to make the rent? How will I be able to achieve my other goals if I keep hanging onto this far fetched dream? Why was this so much harder than I thought it would be?
And once I felt like a wrung out sponge I opened my computer and started to work. I edited and refined some blog posts, began applying to 15 more jobs (bringing the total to 110 jobs since January) and busted out Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark. And then I made the decision to start prepping for the GRE in hopes of pursuing a masters degree within the next year.
There’s a small chance I’ll ever be a famous novelist or columnist like my idols, that I will be known for my award winning journalism or even make my want-to-be writing business a successful reality. But I have to keep trying or I’ll never know what could have been. Trying is better than sitting on the sidelines, getting up from a fall is better than laying in the dirt.
“The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it.”
― Cheryl Strayed,