I think I’ve mentioned that there is an entire editorial department at the company where I now work. Through a series of coincidences, I ended up having an informational interview with a woman who has worked as an editor for the company for many years. We both have the same first name. Imagine the chances of another woman named Gooseberry! The other Gooseberry said there was a good chance of some new editor positions opening after the first of the year.
She then mentioned me to the head of the editorial department, and one day shortly before Christmas, I introduced myself to him. To say that I was intimidated doesn’t begin to cover it. Why? I’m not so sure. He’s just a seemingly sweet and quiet, thin bald man of average height. He was friendly enough. But when I approached him I totally sold myself short.
The moment I opened my mouth, I said I had an English degree and I wrote a blog, which, of course, I realized didn’t mean anything since anyone can write a blog. No kidding. I mean, I insulted myself like that. But I write a good blog. I write a blog that actually gets some traffic, not big traffic, but still…I won Freshly Pressed. That ought to count for something.
I have no professional writing experience, and the writing in the job would be writing about business, something I know perfectly well that I could do. My experience in the business world would absolutely qualify me to do the research and editing and, later, any writing required. I can do this.
The problem is that I have nothing on my resume that would indicate that I can do this. I write an anonymous blog that includes many very personal details about my life that I wouldn’t want to broadcast by megaphone to a future boss, so I can’t exactly use my blog as evidence that I can write.
Well, I could send a writing sample. That’s what any sane woman in the same circumstances would do. Get off your ass and send your resume and a writing sample and a cover letter. But I was literally paralyzed with fear. Here was my chance to work at the kind of job at the very company where I’ve wanted to be for a decade now, and I cannot make myself even apply. Every day I would pass the head editor in the halls and give a wan smile because I still hadn’t sent him anything.
So, I thought about what this disabling fear was really all about. I’m afraid that I won’t get the job if I send my resume, and then I’ll know for sure that I’m not worthy. Or maybe I’m afraid that I will get the job and then what if I’m not successful? Or what if I am successful? What will I want next then? What happens when you actually get what you want? Well, it makes one wonder what I would have done if the man of my dreams had ever returned my affections? Run the other way, screaming?
What is this all about? Is it all about that old, old feeling of not being good enough? The one that began in kindergarten when I found out the other little kids didn’t like me and my tiny adult ways and my big, big words? Does it go back to junior high school and the ridicule I took for being poor? Is it the way I was daily psychologically beaten down by a boy for my inability to conform to societal norms for girls my age?
Is it, instead, the way my parents made me feel as if my dreams weren’t important or the way they made me feel that they weren’t realistic? Is it the way they unknowingly made me feel unworthy by saying that they had no confidence in my ability to achieve?
Am I going to continue to listen to these tapes in my head? Or, perhaps, the better question is, how much longer am I going to keep playing myself these messages? I’m hitting the play button now. Nobody’s strapped me to a chair and made me listen.
This is up to me now. I’ve long since become the sort of person who can make friends easily. The boy from junior high school lives in London now and works for a large non-profit run by a high profile Muslim cleric. He’d probably cheer me on. My parents would want me to have a good job and to be happy.
Today, for better or for worse, I am sending my resume and a cover letter. I’m going to work on a writing sample as well. If it sucks, then it sucks. But one thing’s for sure: I’m going nowhere fast if I don’t at least try.