The ME Factor


What is it about me?

Had a really promising interview for a job I really wanted. Really wanted. I thought I nailed it. First interview lasted 45 minutes, the second nearly two hours. Lots of smiles, banter and handshakes. Discussed salary, hours, benefits. Asked for references.

I didn’t get it.

About the same time last year, the same thing happened. THREE interviews, all quite lengthy. Was taken around the place and introduced to people. Even shown where the office I’d be sitting in.

Didn’t get that one either.

In both cases, the interviewers contacted me personally and explained there was someone with this much more experience, but they’d like for me to stay in touch. Who knows? There could be another opportunity….

No, there won’t be.

Why are these interviewers so charmed by me, my resume, the anecdotes I share proving what a great employee I’d make, that they can’t resist dragging on the interview and when turned down, hope I’ll stay in touch with them? Why should I? What’s in it for me? Or them? And what could I possibly say? I do respond after the turndown by saying thanks for the opportunity to interview with you, because the world’s small and you never know who might be out there.

But the next day I show up, on time, at Phipp’s, boxcutter in hand, ready to open up merchandise and place it in its assigned shelf space. Demoralized, dejected, feeling utterly old and worthless. At least my retail skills are top-notch.

I’d really like a full time, permanent position someplace. It’d be nice sitting at a desk, working on an assignment, using my brain and sharing my expertise with colleagues and clients. And I have kept up my skills, every one.

It’s depressing, I tell you.

My other profession is a writer. Am I published? I’m working on it. Constantly. There isn’t a day that goes by without me writing. I’ve completed one novel and am working on a second. I’ve been fortunate enough to land an agent. A real agent. It’s big time. This is a person whose clients have had book-to-film contracts. I know I’m lucky.

But for some reason, I can’t get past this thing where I’m a salesperson at a department store. One of my colleagues there reminded me that there’s nothing wrong with working at Phipp’s. He’s right. It’s a job, I earn money and I’m one of the most dependable people they have. I’m as professional as I can be. And maybe that’s the fault of society. No one realizes how difficult retail can be. Or why it’s frowned upon as a career choice.

It has given me the freedom to write. While my hours can be all over the place, or very few at all (some weeks I have as little as fourteen), I do have the rest of my time to practice and further my craft.

My sister puts this logic forth to me regularly. Lots of writers kept jobs like mine so they could pay the bills and spend their time doing what they really want – which is to write. And the hours for the last job I interviewed for were long. It was nearly an hour from my house, which meant I’d be away from 7:00 am until 6:00 pm. And if I wanted to go to the gym after work, even later. So when would I write?

Sister added: suppose your book sells? Then what? Oh, lord, I hope she’s right. Because then I’d have some satisfaction that the years spent writing were worth it after all. But then again, I can’t think like that either. I write because I have to. I’ve no choice. I can’t stop the words from flowing any less than Picasso could paint.

The trouble with me is I don’t take me as seriously as I should, and that’s wrong. Truth is, my self-esteem is in the basement. This whole divorce thing shook me to the core. I find myself believing I deserve nothing good, that I’m a waste of a human being. I find it hard to believe I’m worth noticing. There’s been days where I’ve accomplished nothing at all. That means I’ve sat in a chair and stared straight ahead, or flipped through the internet looking at nothing in particular, or just cried my eyes out. In truth, that’s gotten me nowhere, but sometimes I can’t stop myself.

I dragged myself to the gym today. I didn’t want to overdo it since I haven’t been feeling that great, but a walk on the treadmill can do wonders. A show I like to watch was on the TV so it made the time pass. Not long after, a woman hopped on the treadmill next to me and started chatting to a friend. Her words caught my attention. She said, “Yesterday’s done and over with. It’s gone. It’s no more. Today’s a new day, a new plan. You can do whatever you want with it. It’s yours to have. So do something about it, why don’t you?”

Needed to overhear that. I really did. It made me smile, in fact.

Sometimes I get so caught up in the bad of me that I forget there’s plenty of good if I only allow myself to imagine it. I have more riches than I realize. Why shouldn’t I enjoy life and throw myself in it? What good does it do to beat myself up? My ex might’ve been doing me a favor for all I know. He let me go because I didn’t suit him anymore. But maybe the truth of it is he isn’t right for me.

I’m slowly realizing all of this. And when the day comes that I fully accept it, I’ll be set free.

Free to be the me I was born to be.




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