I haven’t worked in the business since before my son was born but I have been applying for theatre jobs steadily for the last year. I haven’t been seriously looking. I was just keeping an eye on the market and if a dream position came up I’d apply. Not once did I get an interview. Three months ago I decided to really start looking and to dedicate myself to a relaunch. I reworked my resume and started sending them out more often. Still nothing. Until last month.
I got a response from a regional theatre about a new community engagement position. The last time I worked in the theatre I was management level so the idea of going entry again was frustrating but I recognized that if I really want to do this, I may have to start over. I was asked to do a phone interview first, at the end of which I was asked to come in.
I was thrilled. FINALLY! Finally, an interview! I prepped by reading up everything I could on the company and did some strategizing about what I might do in the role. I put on a favorite blue sheath and was on my way with lots of luck from my guys.
This was a great interview. There was a great report with my interviewer. I was excited by the things he was telling me about the future of the company and about the position. As he spoke I couldn’t stop myself from planning and thinking of ideas to help them reach their goals.
I could have been in that interview all day “talking shop.” We wrapped up after an hour and I was told that the next step was to put the candidate before the managing director who would have the final say. My resume was on the top in a folder with 5 or 6 others. He put it down and said “I already know I want you to meet [MD], so let’s set it up.”
Flying high! A third interview!!! This could be it! This could be my chance to return to the theatre! This could be my chance to work in a social, engaging environment again! At just the right time, a possibility for a full-time position seemed to be coming along.
We were leaving for two weeks in Germany, so I headed in to have my final interview two days after we returned. Again, another fun interview. I felt like they were selling this great company to me instead of the other way around. I left knowing I was going to get an offer and was kind of surprised to not get it that day.
The next day I got the call while we were at the beach with friends. I returned the call on our way home and was given the most flattering offer ever. They didn’t just want me for the job, they needed me to be a member of their family. “You have to go back to work in the theater and we need to be the place you do it.”
I was thrilled with everything except the actual offer. Oliver, my husband, and I had already discussed what it needed to be in order to accept it and had decided that virtually anything would help us financially and the number was higher than I expected for entry-level, which was great. One week of vacation was hard to swallow, particularly when we don’t have any family in the area.
After getting answers to some follow-up questions the next day, we decided I would take the job. We made plans for Liam after school and for family breakfasts before I’d go to work every day. We headed out to celebrate but the only thing I could do was fight back tears. Something didn’t feel right.
I was grieving many things. I was grieving not being able to pick my boy up from school every day and hear about his adventures. I was grieving the loss of a work trip we have been planning to use as a family vacation that all three of us had been excited about. I was grieving flexibility and relaxed mornings. But that wasn’t it.
The next day I was in Target and thinking about meal planning for my first week of work and had a panic attack right there in front of blue boxes of pasta. I picked the dog up from the groomer and pet him nonstop on the twenty-minute drive home as I struggled to find breath. I cried. A lot. So decided not to take the job.
By the next morning, I had changed my mind again and was trying to figure out how to tell my boss that I’d be leaving. Then something happened. I wasn’t happy. There was something holding me back. Maybe it was the vacation. So for the first time in my life, I asked for more. And I got it. I was offered three extra days in my first year. It was nice, but not enough. But was vacation really the problem?
I stalled giving the company an answer so I could talk it over with my therapist. Bless you, Martine. She helped me see the good and bad in both possibilities. She convinced me that this was not the end. That there would be other offers, other opportunities. That maybe I could even say to them “hey, this is not a great time for my family right now. If this or another position opens up in the future, please keep me in mind.” She told me to “have faith.” Faith for an atheist is tricky but I try. Not the God kind of faith, but faith that my journey will go on as it is supposed to. I’m just, as Shonda Rhimes says, “laying track”.
What I kept coming back to was my gut. Something was telling me that this was not right. The job, the company, the time, whatever it was something was not right and my intuition was jumping up and down inside of me to warn me of impending disaster. I could not, in good faith, take the job. My son needs me right now. We are going through a difficult time and it is about to get worse, and he needs me.
I called the company and I told them exactly the above. I said “no” to a job but I said “yes” to trust. I said “yes” to believing that my gut almost always has my best interest at heart. I said “no” to daily commutes and Parkway traffic and I said “yes” to precious time with my boy. I said “no” to a great opportunity to relaunch my career and “yes” to the possibility that a better opportunity awaits.
This trusting myself (said in a high pitched, questioning voice)…is a definite practice. When I wrote over a year ago about “Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith” I was still very good at denying my innermost advisor to guide me. A year later I am better but it is very uncomfortable. I love certainty. To quote Brené Brown “I want to snuggle up with certainty.” Taking this job would have provided certainty and stability in our home financially and that is nothing to shake a stick at. But despite embracing the uncertainty of my work life moving forward, I know that by trusting my intuition I can own my decision without shame or fear.
This “letting go of the need for certainty” business is not easy. In truth, I’ve been practicing it for years in order to survive. After surviving it all, I now have the opportunity to let my faith in something better help me to thrive.