On Seraphim’s birthday, I had a job interview.
I was angry about the whole ordeal for a number of reasons. First, I had already needed to be nearly two hours late to work the week before for a phone interview (my interview was at 9, and the bus schedule didn’t allow me to get to work till 10). Second, I had been called the day before Seraphim’s birthday asking for an in-person interview for Wednesday or Thursday. I requested Thursday the 19th, late morning. It was supposed to be a two-hour interview, which made it worse. I received an e-mail later that day confirming my interview for Wednesday the 18th. I nearly cried right then. I was feeling OK that day, but I had no idea what it would feel like to celebrate Seraphim’s first birthday without him. I wasn’t so sure I could impress an interviewer on my son’s death day. As much as I wasn’t sure I even wanted the job, I didn’t want to embarrass myself either.
I cried my eyes out the whole way to work, which was disastrous for the makeup I’d dutifully applied in preparation for my interview. I don’t wear makeup often, but I know that it is considered important in the job world, so I do my duty once in a while. Somehow, the mascara and eyeliner did not leave hideous streaks down my cheeks, so I was miraculously saved from looking like a zombie bride for the interview.
I had never had an interview that lasted two hours before. The mere thought frightened me nearly sleepless the night before. I was running through my head trying to dig up every single interview question I’d ever been asked and more. I couldn’t compile a list long enough to necessitate such a long interview. I’d already done hours of testing for the job, so I knew that wasn’t part of it.
The interview turned out to be five interviews with six different people–apparently getting six CPAs in one room at the same time to perform an interview is too difficult, so they needed to split up the time. I also figured it was so they could see if I were consistent. They all asked me about two things that were the same. What struck me, though, was that this interview was not in front of a panel with a sheet of questions in front of them. All that each CPA brought with him or her was my resume–my resume that each of them had actually read and had actual questions to discuss with me about my experience and education.
The first question I was asked was not something along the lines of, “Describe your accounting experience,” or “What is your biggest professional failure?” but rather, “I see you have an English minor. What book are you reading right now?”
Each of them loved that I had an English minor, am currently taking accounting courses, and needed no explanation that my music degree is useful in the “real world” (even in accounting) since they all readily noted that they know music and mathematics to be intrinsically related.
It was a loving, accepting, encouraging interview. I left feeling like those people would be the people who would understand me in ways that most of my co-workers have not over the years. It was not the bad experience I feared on Seraphim’s birthday. It was the opposite.
I cried when I got home and told my husband about the interview. That is usually a bad sign, but this time it was because I was overwhelmed. I told him how much the interview made me want the job, but how I don’t feel like I deserve a good job like that. I am still struggling with getting up in the morning, I still can’t drive, I still have mood swings from hell. It was a job I wish I could have gotten two years ago, but realistically I knew I would not have been prepared for it then. The job involves writing financial statements, which I could have learned at any point in my life I am sure, but I know that part of the reason the CPAs liked me is because I told them I have been reading financial statements every week for my online courses. Would I have been as appealing if I had stared at them blankly when they asked me if I knew what a financial statement was?
I feel sick in my stomach about the job, in part, because they made it clear that the woman who is retiring now–whose place I would be filling–has been there 40 years, and they’re hoping the same for whoever takes her spot. I can’t commit to decades of service for the sole reason that I can’t commit to living her for decades. The deep pain and grief we have endured this year have nearly driven us out of the city altogether. One of our goals was to move away, start over. In the mean time, I needed a job where I could start over, too.
Accepting this job means committing to living here longer. I have mixed feelings about that. Not accepting this job would likely be something I would regret forever. Yet I am fearful about not being able to drive, about living away from my husband for half of this year if his teaching assignment moves him somewhere else, which is probable. Yet, there was no guarantee I would find a job where he would be forced to move, so I might have had to stay put anyway. I might as well be doing a job that uses the skills I have and develops new ones, at a place where I feel like I “belong” for once.
I find myself fearing the silliest things–like giving up the slightly more paid time off I am getting at the law office, and giving up my grandfathered-in pay scale that I was never going to truly benefit from anyway. I will give up my public employees’ retirement plan I was probably never going to get (and if we stay in the state and I go back to government work at some point, I’d still have it). I will give up security–knowing how to do my job and having enough seniority to say, “I remember four years ago when we were doing this…” to the newer staff.
I have lost some of my sense of adventure and motivation that I had when I was fresh out of college. Losing my baby has a lot to do with this. I like being safe. I like things staying the way they are. If I take a new job outside of the system I am currently in, it means not being in my comfort zone, not being in control. It means failing because I’m going to be learning.
Maybe it will be good for me. We’ll see.
They still have to do all the background checking and reference checking, because for some reason they do things in opposite order of everyone else. So it feels surreal and like a “maybe” until then. I feel the same way about the new job that I felt about having a baby–it was all just, “Maybe this will happen…”
I want to be confident, whether I succeed or fail. I want to know who I am in the process and be able to cling tightly to that.