[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]
I was very excited and more than a little caffeinated, so I bit my knuckle. Because I have not yet lost my teeth, biting my knuckle was more uncomfortable than I anticipated. "What are you doing?" said my friend. "Gumming my knuckles," I answered, "obviously."
There is something very special about a friend who understands the need to gum one's knuckles.
The reason I was gumming my knuckles is because I was bubbling with excitement because I'd just returned from Mexico and I'd started a new job. My new job is currently very confusing and my head was spinning, albeit slowly. More like a merry-go-round and less like a pinwheel if you know what I mean.
"How much coffee have you had today?" she asked me.
"If coffee is a drug then call me a druggie," I answered, which didn't exactly answer her question, but didn't exactly not. Ambiguity is posh these days.
My friend has very long brown hair that's very pretty two days after a wash. Two day old hair is healthier and shinier than just-washed hair, according to this very reputable online forum. She has a habit of dying the ends bright pink, and today, the pink was especially vibrant.
"Do you like your new job?" she asked.
"It has only been a few days," I answered, "but yes, I think so." How anyone can really think anything is honestly beyond me. I've never heard of something so superfluous.
My friend was very curious about my latest career move, "I mean, is it better than your old job? Is it harder? Is it more interesting?"
"You're asking me questions I can't answer yet," I told her. "Let's revisit this particular line of questioning in four to six months."
I was looking for a new job for a while, not because I didn't like my old job or the people I worked with or the organization I worked for, but because my brain was getting itchy and I was getting bored. My parents would probably say that I get bored very easily, which is either a hinderance or a super power. I haven't quite figured out that riddle yet.
When looking for a new job, it's important to have a pretty good idea of what you're looking for: responsibilities, pay, benefits, flexibility, opportunity, blah-blah-blah. While I was looking, I spoke to dozens of people about jobs that did not match my very simple criteria: I wanted more money (obviously), a remote role, and an opportunity to grow. I also wanted health insurance, but don't we all? One woman tried to sell me on the importance of being in a very dingy office for the sake of "collaboration." What she didn't say is that my new office space would have essentially been a card table situated adjacent to another card table. No thank you?
Another man tried to recruit me for a job with more responsibility and less money, telling me it would be a great career move that would help me "climb the ladder." Sir, I wanted to say, I know all about ladders and one does not move laterally from a very solid, sturdy, steel ladder to a rotting wooden one. My father once fell off a ladder, so I understand the hazards that lie therein.
I endured a series of panel interviews, shiny heads staring at me through my computer screen. "Why do you want this job?" they asked me. In my heart, I wanted to say, "I don't. Not if I have to stare at your shiny heads all day. Not if I have to explain how to use SharePoint or field asinine questions about when I plan to settle down, get married, and create tiny gremlin babies." What I really said was something vague about career growth, feeling connected to their mission, and my ability to make a tangible impact on their very tired organization.
One woman read through my resume during the interview, asking me questions that my resume blatantly answered. "How long have you been at the Red Cross?" she asked, even though my start date was in bold lettering, directly below the words "American Red Cross." She got very lost in very tall weeds and I honestly don't know if she's ever been found.
Finally, I went through a long process with a recruiter for a sales job in the freight industry. I suppose I would have been selling the use of their trucks and planes, which sounds just as boring as you might imagine. I tried to picture myself selling space in a semi truck, "See all this room?" I'd say pointing inside the truck bed. "All of your things can fit in here." Needless to say, I did not get that job.
I think the most compelling thing about the job search process was being rejected by dozens of organizations. In hindsight, none of them were the right fit, which makes the sting of being told, "no" burn a bit less. But there were jobs I thought I wanted that didn't want me, and that made me feel disheartened. Each time I've found a new job, it has taken me a long time. If you're looking, the best thing to do is keep going (obviously). Keep taking interviews, keep exploring the landscape, keep refining your expectations, keep drinking coffee, and don't ever stop gumming those knuckles.