Just recently, I went on a small vacation to Universal Studios: Hollywood. The trip was a bit sudden, and I wondered how I would feel about being on it at all, but I’m glad I went. I really needed to get the hell out of Arizona for a bit, and in turn, out of whatever creative funk has been plaguing me for the past few months. Do I feel cured of said funk? Not really, but I do feel like I’m on the road to a full recovery. Or something like that.
Something I can’t seem to stop thinking about is the few moments before taking the flight to LA. As we waited to board, I saw a man who almost became my boss and his wife boarding our plane. Let’s call him Dan. Like most other times you see people you’d rather not see, I felt that adrenaline rush when I saw Dan and his wife, as if I was about to enter dangerous territory. Whether or not it was actually dangerous is entirely arbitrary; my brain wanted me to believe it was.
I had interviewed with his personal/professional development company for a social media position about a month after losing my job at the men’s underwear company. He made a name for himself by crafting these development classes, both video and in-person seminars, and he had an abrasive knack for motivating people to improve themselves, and the attitude he portrayed made it seem like he was the one doing it better than anyone else. Sure, I thought he was a bit arrogant, but he was good at his job, so who was I to say he shouldn’t be? I thought his advice was so non-specific, and didn’t take into account that everyone is different. It felt like he thought, at one point, “well all this worked for me, so I’ll take everyone’s money so that I can tell them that it’ll work for them, too.” Something was clearly working for him, despite how I felt about his content. He called himself “no-nonsense,” but I thought it sounded more like he had no tact. I tried to convince myself that I might have been wrong.
My first interview with the company was with his wife and their secretary. His wife was late to the interview, and his secretary spoke like whatever they were brainwashing her with was slowly starting to lose its grip. They liked my ideas enough to bring me to a second interview, where I sat in their office and created posts for them. They liked my content enough to bring me to a third interview, which included going to a networking event that they were holding, actively updating their social media pages with posts related to the event, and…approaching strangers to ask them about their experience at their seminars.
I knew I lost the job the minute they asked me to do this. Mind you, I have no problems talking to strangers, but my introverted brain can only handle so many kicks into a social war zone. Not only was I still in the interview process for this company of people I barely knew, I was now being pushed to approach several people among a crowd of new faces for the sake of getting a job. Under all of that pressure, you would hope I’d turn into a precious gem. Though I didn’t come out of there looking sparkly and valuable, at least I didn’t turn to dust. However, they were looking for diamonds, not something resembling coal.
Something I must have repressed due to the nature of the people who owned this company popped up shortly after I saw them, though. I remember the night of the networking event, and I remember the conversation Dan and I had before I walked out of that event. He took a seat on the kitchen counter in the country club community center, and asked me what I ultimately want to do with my life. I felt like I was being tested. I saw the pen and paper in front of me, the question he asked in bold lettering, and I had studied the answer over and over again, but this time, I didn’t give the answer I knew I needed to give.
I told him I wanted to write. I diluted my actual dream, but I still poured it into the reality we were sharing. I was anxious to share it, half because I wasn’t taking myself seriously enough at the time, and half because I felt his arrogance leaving so little room for anything else in the room. What I didn’t expect was him to pull it all back, and tell me that he saw something in me that suggested that, whatever I did with my life, he knew it would be great. I’d never felt that much space in a room for my dreams to just…exist.
After he told me that they would call me tomorrow to tell me whether or not I got the job, I felt like I could finally see my path. Maybe he actually knew, or maybe he just wanted the news from the next day to hit me less hard, but everything seemed to fall into place shortly after that. Though I’m tempted to tell myself that I haven’t achieved the success that he saw in me, I think boldly stepping onto the path is the first step. I was anxious about seeing him, because I was anxious about the possibility of having to tell him that I lost the opportunity he could have given me, only for me to go months without actually gaining the success I told him I craved.
What I initially failed to see in all of this anxiety is that even he knows that success comes in all different forms. I just need to make myself aware of this, too. Maybe it’s a slow start now, and maybe I don’t feel I have anything to show for it yet, but I also think wouldn’t have had to prove it, at all. There’s something already in me that’s radiating, and I have to believe it’s there just as much as everyone else. If Dan, an arrogant, seemingly self-centered business owner whose job is to know you better than you know yourself can take a minute to look into my eyes and tell me that he believes it, then I sure as hell can, too.