Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Square peg, round hole

Last Tuesday evening, just as I was packing up for my commute home, I got an email thanking me for my application to a position and asking if I would be available the following morning to meet to talk more about it. The offer to meet that evening with such short notice gave me pause, but I wrote this person back telling her I could meet the following morning.

It was the beginning of a whirlwind I wasn't expecting.

The following morning both my graduate advisor and a former colleague contacted me to let me know they had unexpectedly received urgent requests for letters of recommendation. Following my morning meeting, I was contacted by the interviewer informing me that one of the professors who lectures for this course wanted to video conference with me. Could I do it that afternoon before the break? Then came the request for me to set up another video conference with another one of the course professors. Oh, and she wanted me to also talk with her consultant prior to our meeting. Could I fit both in the Tuesday after the holiday break?

By last evening, after riding the interview rollercoaster and experiencing some highs ("we're really excited!!" and "your letters are impressive . . . you have fans.") to a big low (the last interview was filled with me making a lot of mistakes), I found myself curling up on the front stoop at home to allow for a few tears to shed.

Because though I started out utterly pissed off that I was agreeing to meet last minute for a teaching position, potentially throwing me back into the crazy destructive pattern that comes with lecturing in academia, I also allowed myself to get my hopes up and see not only the possibility of what this could offer but also the potential path forward.

All of that tumbling down with 12 hours of silence and me convinced that I fucked it all up.

It goes without saying that job hunting is insanely hard. Networking has become a second job, with me following leads and reaching out for potential opportunities that may not even exist. Applying for positions without an advocate feels utterly useless most of the time, due to the blackhole that is many an HR department. Yet all of it is necessary to get that one hit, that one lead that will lead to the next opportunity.

The problem comes in that a lot of the time I feel like I'm trying to fill a round hole with a square peg. There's also the combined factor that many, many people have advice on how to reshape that peg, but often it's to turn it into a triangle or an oval. Hence a lot of time is also spent listening, trying to glean what advice is helpful but also knowing often the most important part of networking is connecting on some level so that further connections and possibilities can come.

Given all of that, I'm still feeling pretty down. I knew it would take at least a year of solid searching to find a job following this postdoc, but I'm getting tired of the "no"s or "not quite"s. In a way, it reminds me a lot of dating, selling yourself to the other party as someone who could be a good addition to their life. After all, you get dressed up and spend a lot of time putting your best foot forward. Problem is, I wasn't very good at dating either.

Last night I texted Martha to update her on the interview and how it all felt like it was terrible wrong. After the high from last Wednesday where it sounded like a done deal, I needed to confide in someone about my failure. It didn't take long for Martha to help me feel better as she sent this.
Trust. Trust. Let yourself fall back into the arms of the Universe. There is a spiritual side to this too. That is the "necessary" part. That it matches your heart. Maybe it is your heart telling you to be careful. Say the feeling you have today were most of the feedback you would get from her. If she offered the job would you want it knowing that? You were interviewing her too. . . . You are here and that is the "perfect." More things will open up if this doesn't. So the hunt is on. Let the games begin. I know rejection and disappointment are not fun but if that is to come to pass you can handle it.
And Martha is right. I need to stop assuming that this rejection is somehow solely about me and instead look at it as a process. Easier said than done, especially as I'm still feeling pretty down. But then again, I knew I would have to kiss a lot of frogs. I'm just bummed because this one looked like it could be a pretty awesome prince.


  1. sorry this was a difficult experience. Wise advice from your friend, for sure. It can be really stressful to try to understand how the rest of the world, including the professional world, sees you and what it means and how to use that information to your advantage.

  2. I'm sorry that this process drags you around from the highs to the lows -- job hunting is no fun. I'm on interview committees for school frequently, and I am always thinking "god interviewing sucks." All that waiting, all that rehashing every single thing you said or did or wore or how you sat or nervously chewed your cuticles or whatever. Martha is super wise. I'm sorry that it seems that this opportunity wasn't the one for you, but do they let you know if you don't get it, too? Is it not over until it's truly over? Regardless, I love the idea of trusting and the interviewing process being a dual one. It's hard to do the trusting, but I hope it makes you feel less rejected and more looking forward to the one that will fit. Thinking of you, this process is crappy.

  3. That sounds like such a stressful experience. I'm sorry it turned out that way. I love the words of encouragement you got, though.

  4. It's so easy to get your hopes up, and then have them dashed. Though no news is not necessarily bad news. I've discovered over the years that people work on their own timetable - they rush certain things through, then make you wait for days or even weeks as they go through their internal processes. So I'll keep my fingers crossed for you. But if it doesn't turn out - then I send hugs, and know that you'll learn from this, as crappy an experience as it has been.

  5. You know I can relate to the square peg/round hole thing.....

    You are awesome, and qualified, and prepared, and if not this position, the right position will come along eventually. In the meantime, the wait will torment you.

    Thinking about you always and I'm here for you anytime.

  6. The whole job searching and interview process is so stressful. I know of some people who purposely apply for jobs they don't like just for the interview practice! I hope you will find something good again. Try not to take a bad interview to heart. Good luck

  7. Job hunting is so difficult- it's partly why I am still at my job 8 years later (now I'm happy but I wasn't for the first 3 years or so).

    Is there any way you can reach out to try to rectify some of the "mistakes" that you made in your last interview? Maybe when you write your thank you letter for the interview you could explain your reasoning behind an answer or even see if they would like you to explain further?

    Have you definitively heard that you didn't get the job? Don't lose all hope just yet if you haven't.

  8. Ugh. As I read, I'm in the trenches with you. Trench life is no fun!

    Love this from Martha: " Let yourself fall back into the arms of the Universe." So widely applicable.


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