Friday, April 12, 2013

Pulled to Safety?

When I received the phone call confirming my employment, I was in the dressing room stall of a thrift store, trying on the only pair of jeans they had in my size: a shapeless, ugly pair. I had taken everything out of my pocket and slipped off the pair I was wearing when the phone began to buzz. Human resources had, quite literally, caught me with my pants down.

“We have made some tough decisions, as there were many strong candidates for the position,” and I gulped harder than a thirsty wino would beaujolais, “…but we’ve decided to give you a shot,” and I saw myself sink to my knees in the mirror before me.

 Should the offer come, I had intended to say something dignified and graceful, such as:

“It is with enthusiasm, humility and the sincerest gratitude that I accept your offer.”

Instead, I said, verbatim:

“Oh, thank you so, so, so, so much!”

I was with a friend at the time, and after receiving the job offer, Rusty Nails, Washington Apples and various other cocktails that I do not remember followed. My first action upon getting home the next morning was to cancel all those daily job notification e-mails that clog my inbox: slaying Monster, zapping ZipRecruiter, deconstructing CareerBuilder and clipping StartWire.

I don't think I'll miss spending my mornings filling-out online job application forms...

Since then, two new ruminations have crept into my mind, and now, with the rain pitter-pattering outside and a tepid cup of tea on my desktop, I have been trying to contend with them. The first is the flipside of my former fear of failure: the thought that I might actually “make it.” What does this mean for me in relation to others of my generation? The news media constantly warns us twentysomethings that we will fare significantly worse than our parents. We are the precariat. In my mind’s eye, economic circumstance is a fault line. As it rips open, we all dangle from the rumbling ledge, and regardless of hope or cynicism, there is not enough rope to pull everyone to safety. Some will be swallowed by the gaping chasm. With the cruelty of context considered, if I am saved, how should I feel about it?

The second musing is less abstract and more classically anxious: What if I fuck up? This is, after all, a temp-to-perm position, and I have been given ninety days to demonstrate my worth.

When I was a psychology Masters student, I learned that cognitive therapy works – and it does indeed work – by challenging a client’s deluded, distressed or otherwise faulty fears with whichever of their past experiences contradict those worries. I learned during this time that, when I am given a challenge (such as a dissertation in a topic that I had never before formally studied), I put my all into it.

Thus, however cocksure it might sound, the answer to “What if I fuck up?” is “I won’t.” So there.


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