Disclaimer: I am not the devil, and I do not wear Prada. I do have three Coach purses, though, because they were gifts from my mom and husband throughout the years. I wear Silpada jewelry because I bought quite a few pieces when I tried selling the stuff for a couple of years. And I love The Limited because they send me coupons on my birthday. That’s what I wear when I need to look like a stable adult. Also, I am a saint (wink, wink).
I had recently graduated from college when I watched The Devil Wears Prada for the first time. The opening scene sucked me in immediately. While listening to KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See” and watching beautiful women adorn their bodies with matching bras and undies, makeup, pumps, and fashionable outfits for the office, I suddenly wanted to be any one of those women. A matching bra and panty set?!?! Whoa, that’s very grown up. Then there was Andy Sachs, the aspiring journalist who threw on an ugly sweater and put on some ChapStick before her interview with the editor of a popular and well-established fashion magazine. She didn’t care about what she looked like. She just cared about pursuing her dream. She got a little lost for awhile after taking the job, but her heart won out in the end.
Although I didn’t have an interview with an editor of a fashion magazine recently, I did have an interview with a marketing firm about three weeks ago. After making it through the first interview, which was over the phone, I was called back to interview in person. And after applying for at least a dozen jobs at this point, I was excited to finally meet with a potential employer. I put on my “interview outfit” pictured above. I decided not to wear a suit because I hate wearing suits and because I don’t own a suit. (Last summer I had donated my only suit to Goodwill in a fit of rage when I thought that I would never lose the weight I had gained during my two pregnancies.) While adorning my body with clothing items that did not include yoga pants, jeans or my DIY tank top (another Pinterest fail), I suddenly felt like a real adult again. I even kicked it up a notch and put on mascara, which has happened about a handful of times in my life. I looked in the mirror and I suddenly saw myself as a confident professional. I told myself that I was ready to get back in the game and that I was ready to move forward with my career and focus on my career development. But during the second interview, it became clear that the job I was applying for was not for me. After the interview, I emailed the HR department and kindly withdrew my application.
The company and position was not a good fit for me. I had asked the interviewer to share with me what she thought was most fulfilling about her job. She hesitated when answering my question. It was actually quite painful to watch her and listen to her as she searched her heart for the answer, or any answer. And she never really answered my question. She said that she was grateful that she had so many people she could reach out to at work when she was having issues with her own attitude toward her job. Yeah. Not a good fit at all.
I have been thinking about this interview for three weeks now, trying to make better sense of why I withdrew my application and why I even bothered to apply for the position. I think I finally know what I did wrong, what I did right and what I need to do now.
What I did wrong:
I applied for the position out of desperation. As much as I want to stay home with my kids all day, every day until they are both old enough to go to school, my time as a stay-at-home mom is very limited. I have student loans, and I need to continue paying these loans off. My goal is to find a part-time job by the end of the summer. Now that August has arrived, I am starting to get nervous about not having a job yet. Let me rephrase that: I am starting to have panic attacks again because I need to earn an income but I don’t want to sacrifice my time with my children and I don’t want another job that’s going to put me in the same situation that led to me quitting my previous job in May. I’m desperate because I don’t want my family’s finances to suffer, but I am also trying to stay true to myself by finding something that is fulfilling — or least more enjoyable at this point. I know I can’t have it all at once, but I am attempting to take the steps that are necessary to get my work life or career or whatever you want to call it back on the right path — the right path for me.
What I did right:
I acknowledged that the company and position was not a good fit for me. After thinking about it for a few weeks now, I have also come to realize that I worry way too much about what others think of me. I don’t want people to think that I am wasting my college education. I don’t want people to think that I am lazy. I don’t want my family and friends to be disappointed in me. I need to stop worrying about what everyone else my age is doing and what my friends, family and society expects me to do. I need to start doing what I want to do. Perhaps if I am doing something I enjoy I will not feel like my time away from children is wasted time. Life is too short. Life is too precious. Life is a gift. I don’t want to waste my life.
So that’s where I am at with this whole job search thing. I’m a little like Andy Sachs. I may look boring at first. I lost myself for awhile when trying to succeed in a place that was not right for me. But I have a better sense of who I am now and where I belong.
What I need to do now:
I need to be okay with who I am. I am a mother. And I am a giver. I take care of people. That’s what I like to do. I’m bossy, I will organize the shit out of anything, and I will bust my ass for anyone when something good will come of it. I’m socially awkward, but I do enjoy meeting new people and trying to make new friends when my social awkwardness isn’t too much for others to handle. Clearly I would make a great bartender, personal assistant or event planner.
I need to stop worrying about what other people will think of me if I choose to put my children first at this point in my life instead of my “career” and my professional development. Sure I have a bachelor’s degree that I paid an obscene amount of money for, and I earned a pretty sweet GPA that I now get to plaster on my resume. But shouldn’t I get to be the one who determines whether I am successful or not? And isn’t it a bit disturbing that I feel like I have to argue that being home with my kids doesn’t make me less successful than other parents who do work? Why is it so difficult for me to accept that choosing to stay home more with my children is perfectly fine?
Why is it so difficult for me to allow myself to follow my heart some days?
I understand my heart. I trust my heart. But it’s not always easy to give up control and let my heart lead me. We all have these inner struggles. But how long do we go on battling with ourselves? Why do we avoid making peace with ourselves? How do we finally allow ourselves to embrace who we are without feeling the need to justify our actions and choices?
Yes, I am confused. Yes, I still worry about what others think of me after quitting my job. But there are also moments when my soul becomes more peaceful.
There are moments when suddenly I see.
After I was all dressed up for my interview a few weeks ago, my son looked at me and said, “Wow, you look pretty mommy. You know what I have to say? You’re one dynamite gal.” (The dynamite gal part is a line he stole from Wreck It Ralph). My soul finally became peaceful once again when my son spoke these words. And in that moment, it didn’t matter that I was going to interview for a job that I wasn’t thrilled about. All that mattered was that I got to be home to have that moment with my son. And then my daughter chimed in, “Die mite gal. Die mite gal. DIE MITE GAL!”
I thank myself every day for allowing myself to follow my heart by leaving my previous job. I thank God every day for blessing me with two beautiful children. I thank my husband every day for supporting me and my decisions — even some of my crazy ones. And I thank my children every day because they have helped me to see what I want to be and because they have given my heart wings.