I saw the ad on Craigslist and my heart skipped a beat: a coffee internship that paid a living wage and participated in sustainable trade and farming practices. I was immediately smitten with teenage caliber lust. I stalked the coffee shop in person and on the internet and began wooing their human resources director. I’d quit my job 5 days earlier and I wanted (needed) to be busy, to be taking action toward employment, to start anew in uncharted (for me) territory. This is what I do: I set a goal, break it down into measurable steps, devise processes, and take action. My first interview went great; my second interview even better. Then I met with the owner, we’ll call him “S,” and he shot me down – HARD. He was supportive, engaging, eccentric, and German. His accent put me at ease and his direct nature made me feel at home. His assessment of me was spot on as well: I was still wearing my “corporate mask,” needed to get more comfortable with myself and to take time to heal. In spite of only saying positive things about my previous employer, he said I “needed to cleanse myself of the poison” my last “toxic” career had deposited like plaque on my soul and rediscover my self worth. Yes, all of this came from a job interview with a stranger. S gave me assigned reading, directed me toward a career counselor, and made some interim employment suggestions. If I followed his process he would have a job for me in six months.
I left his office and went directly to the bookstore for my copy of What Color Is Your Parachute: 2014 edition. I felt the twinge of “you’re turning into your mother” as I picked up what I considered to be a self-help book, but I am reading it, and it is good. I’ve made arrangements with a career counselor and allocated the funds in my budget to invest in my future happiness. (So long, glamper project, you’ll have to wait until I have a steady income.) I began talking to strangers in coffee shops and reached out to other businesses that interested me for informational interviews so I could learn more about what they do, what they enjoy, and what path led them to where they are. As I went through S’s process I realized he was right: I didn’t want to be a barista long term, although it would be fun for six months. I was longing instead to join a happy team in a happy workplace and I’d pounced on the first one I’d found. “But,” S said, “Vee don’t create happiness here, vee hire people who are already happy with themselves.”
I returned home, still blissfully unemployed, and returned to the rituals that allow me introspection and growth. I hung the clothes on the line and contemplated the path S had suggested. No matter my protests (I don’t have the education or credentials; I don’t know what those people do; I don’t know if I can do that….) S maintained that I already had the skills and just needed to fine tune my approach and restore my confidence; the rest, he said, would be provided by the universe. And so, just as there are stars in the galaxy and galaxies in the universe, I am a project manager.
I shrugged, that guy was crazy. I can’t do that job. Nobody would hire me. He knew me for an hour; he can’t KNOW me in that time. Or can he?
“Sowing in the sunshine, sowing in the shadows,
Fearing neither clouds nor winter’s chilling breeze;
By and by the harvest, and the labor ended,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.”