Walking down the streets of your hometown is a surreal experience. I don’t know if that’s true for everyone, but this weekend was like some sort of fever dream for me. How is it that a road can send you back in time and make you feel every bit your 16 year old self? How is it that that same road can send you barreling into the future?
My brother got married on Saturday. It was a lovely affair with plenty of weeping on both sides of the aisle. I was a reluctant bridesmaid–if only because I hate being in photos–but I will admit that it was honor to stand at my brother’s side and watch as he and my now sister-in-law became a family. And I could go on about how it made me wonder whether or not I will ever have that moment of love again, but I won’t because it literally doesn’t matter to me right now.
Because something else happened this weekend. I got a job. To say that I’m excited would be an understatement. Some of you reading have been with me for months now, and know how much I have struggled and grown since May when my relationship fell to shit. Since then, I have suffered the full brunt of my depression, cried my eyes out until I thought I might die, screamed into pillows, refused to collapse into my sadness, traveled to far off countries, met strangers, drank wine, laughed a lot, relapsed into said sadness, overcame, got angry, spent time with my amazing family, developed spiritually, wrote a little, applied to over a hundred jobs, was rejected by over a hundred jobs, and wallowed in an unhealthy amount of self pity.
If you’ve ever been out of work, you know all about the struggle. Not only are you struggling to maintain the hemorrhaging wound that is your finances, you also have to look yourself in the mirror every day and wonder what’s wrong with you. “What about me is so horrendous that no one wants to hire me?” or “What do I have to do better?” To make matters worse, so many businesses won’t even inform you that you’ve been looked over. It’s a horrendously unprofessional business practice. If you’re any sort of hiring manager reading this and you find yourself guilty, you should be ashamed. Do better.
In early September, I applied to fourteen jobs. I had been back from Paris for over a month and was wondering why I couldn’t get any traction on my applications. I was spiraling. I don’t want to sound like a conceited asshole when I say this: While the rest of my life is a series of unfortunate disappointments (shout out to my career as a writer, hopeful doctoral candidacy, and love life), I am familiar with success in the work place. This, of course, is due in no small part to the fact that Bailey Merlin reps that “hard worker” status like no other. So, to be overlooked and blatantly ignored was a big shock to my already fragile ego.
When I got the email that HR over at Harvard wanted to set up a phone interview with me, over a month after I submitted my application, I nearly died. Okay, “shit my pants” is probably more accurate. Then, a few weeks later, they wanted to set up an in-person interview. That was the moment I had been waiting for. I knew I could get the job if I sat down in front of someone. No matter what I’ve been through these last few months, I am still one charming ass person. The day of the interview came, I thought I slam dunked it, and I went home.
Then, nothing. For weeks. I became desperate as I struggled with letting go of a dream and reconciled myself to the fact that I might have to work somewhere that made me unhappy for a few months. I was inconsolable (for those of you with me those few weeks, I appreciate your patience and support). Here’s something I know but refused to take into account: The wheels of academia move with unbearable slowness.
Finally, on the way to my brother’s wedding and a full two months after I had applied to the job, I got the call. The woman in HR told me everything I needed to know, gave me a start date, and congratulated me. I had to pull over at a gas station to scream with joy, my poor dog looking on in confused concern. Are there are lot of things to be done? You betcha. But the point is that I finally triumphed. Monday, I start my new life.
After so many months of absolute wretchedness, it’s like I’m finally catching my break. At my core, I’m a cynic, so I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. Or maybe, when the other shoes does drop, I’ll be ready to conquer whatever comes at me with grace and the assurance that the bad stuff in life doesn’t last forever. Ugh, how saccharine is that?
While I was walking on Pensacola Beach with my mom (appreciating warmth for the last time for God knows how long), I found a whole sand dollar. It sat there as though it had been waiting for me. For those beach dwellers and coastal creatures, finding a whole sand dollar is both a good omen. I put it in a jar with some sand, a reminder of the place that nurtured me as a child. If that’s not a “Go get ’em, tiger” from God and the universe, I’m not really sure what is.