“They liked your background but they thought you didn’t have enough energy during the interview.”
You know how Thumper’s mother said, “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all”? That’s something I’ve built into myself over the years. Though it takes a lot to put me in a bad place, I rarely have rude or non-constructive things to say. It’s usually safer to err on the side of silence, and even when a sharp word might be warranted, people don’t always listen, or worse if you hit a nerve they lash back out at you. And over the past couple of years I’ve felt too fragile to deal with other people’s barbs. That’s something prolonged grief does to you; it simply wears down your walls and until you’re capable to rebuilding, it’s a weakness you’re terribly aware of.
Needing to be handled gently isn’t something the world at large is capable of, though, and sometimes that contrast is painfully shoved to the forefront. It constantly amazes me how powerful words are; the things we feel and the things we’re driven to sometimes hang on a single simple word. When you’re walking a path of grief, others’ words can have seriously unexpected consequences.
Over the past three months or so I’ve been working with a temp agency (not the same agency I talked about here) that has gone back and forth between being weirdly pushy and remarkably non-committal. I feel like I say the same things with every agency I cross paths with, but I hate working with these companies. This one’s headed by The Overprotective Boyfriend. Seriously, that’s what we call him, courtesy of my youngest sister who so dubbed him after I recapped by first face-to-face with him. During our “interview” he was rather forward about how quickly they moved there, and that he wasn’t shy about over-communicating. He then preceded to tell me about how he will sometimes “stalk people’s phones” when they don’t answer his calls (yes, those are his words) and that he doesn’t do email because it’s too slow.
Aside from the “Woah, buddy, slow down” factor that pervaded the beginning of the relationship, it was manageable. I fumbled my way through the first interview he set up because the interviewer threw a test at me that he hadn’t prepped me for, and was unsurprisingly turned down for that one.
Then the next interview, several weeks later on a Monday, turned out to be one of those rare times when you talk to the people, walk around the space and genuinely get excited about the possibilities. I walked about from it buzzed. They were looking to make a decision in a day or two and wanted their choice to start the following Monday. The OPB assured me that it was practically my job to decide on because I was the only candidate they’d presented and he’d gotten excellent feedback from them. He would reach back out no later than Wednesday.
So I waited. And then Wednesday came and went. So I called him Thursday morning and left a voicemail, which he didn’t return. So I called again Friday and when he didn’t answer that time, I left another voicemail, this time frustrated and reminding him that I’d told the company I was available first thing Monday, and that if they wanted me I needed to know.
He didn’t call me back until Tuesday, offered no explanation for having fallen off the wagon, and skimmed over what had become really important to me with a single sentence: “They liked your background but they thought you didn’t have enough energy during the interview.”
I practically hung up on him I was so disappointed. I sat in the living room for nearly an hour just crying. I hadn’t quite realized how hopeful I’d gotten over that one, and knowing that I had to wade back into the often humiliating resume submission and interview process was terribly disheartening. At some point my frustration turned to anger; How dare they? If they’d interviewed someone who was a better fit, more qualified, then fine. Say that. Not having enough energy during the interview was a cop-out because I was there. I know how well each of those conversations went, and how much effort I put into each one of those six separate conversations with different people the position would interact with.
Obviously writing all of this out was part of my examine-and-let-go process, but there’s a larger lesson gleaned from the whole experience: simple perseverance. None of us ever has the energy we want or need, but we get up, get dressed, take a deep breath, square our shoulders and keep pushing forward. And sometimes realizing the strength involved with that is just enough.
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