Sulking

I mentioned a few weeks ago that life is settling into a quite lovely reprieve lately. The boys are old enough to hold their own, to help, and to navigate life with a level of alacrity that informs our interactions. They’re people more often than actors playing needy little whelps, and I enjoy being with them.

Client work is winding down, as it typically does before the holidays. I’ve been looking forward to this window so I can work on my book. I don’t participate in NaNoWriMo because I’m participating in NaNoWriDecade. My novel needs at least two more huge overhauls before it’s decent, and I want to do that work.

And I’ve been contemplating going back to work. The sacrifices of curtailing my career for child-rearing smacked me right across the mouth with Ann Marie Slaughter’s article on working and motherhood…I’ve given up almost a decade of income, a decade of retirement savings to be with my children. I’ve stayed in the game by consulting, but there’s a certain point at which I need colleagues. In writing, in editing, and in brand naming (a seriously awesome niche of the linguistic world wherein companies call me to name their widget, their salad, their company) I’ve been working alone or hiring the same small group of trusted creatives for a decade.

Then LinkedIn sent me an email. “Did you know Awesome Niche Company is looking for someone like you?” I clicked, read, gasped, and submitted. Jobs like this don’t come along often, and I had to acknowledge the fit. So I applied. I got an interview. I researched nannies and school schedules and I waited, day after day rethinking my every interview answer. I talked too long on that point, I didn’t turn that back around to the issue at hand, I poorly articulated something at which I excel…If you’ve ever interviewed, you know the process.

And then I got the email. “Lovely to meet you…experienced and enthusiastic…better qualified applicants.”

I wish them great luck and I’m sure they’ll find the right person for the job. But in my head, I was the right person. And hearing they don’t agree is a ridiculously oversized blow to my ego. I should focus on the fact that clients don’t agree. I get hired quickly and repeatedly for jobs because I’m good at what I do.

But for now I’m having a good sulk.

This is the first time I’ve gotten excited about a job in a long time. A job like this won’t come around again for five years. This was the job.

Oh, goodness, am I pouting.

I need to polish my interview skills, so this doesn’t happen again. And I need to work on my book, so when I get the perfect job I won’t have an unfinished novel looming over my head. And I need to write proposals for two nonfiction books and apply to law school and write that scholarly article I’ve been promising for three years and turn down more client work and actually ditch sugar and…

I just want someone to look at my accomplishments and be impressed. And ask me my opinion on something. My children can’t and won’t fill this function. My husband can’t either. My colleagues don’t care because they have their own baggage to manage. My clients think they’re engaging in exactly this sort of supportive respect by hiring me.

So why the big ol’ pout? this isn’t high school. “You need 100 auditions to get one gig, so just go do another 99,” my acting coach always said.

Why not go and do something on the List?

The List. The List shall guide you. Use the List, Luke. Help me, List, you’re my only hope.

But I’ve written my own to-do list for more than a decade. Can’t someone else hand me a list?

Wait, do I really want that? Haven’t small people and clients and students and employers been handing me a list for twenty-plus years? Don’t I want my own list?

Yes, but that’s not possible. I have a family and bills and clients. My list will never be my own. Just as it’s not your own list when you’re under your parents’ roof, or in college, or gainfully employed, or imprisoned, or unemployed, or an elected official, or…wait, are independently wealthy, single people the only ones with self-generated lists?

Does LinkedIn send opening for that role? Single and independently wealthy?

I hope so. Until then, I have things to do.

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13 thoughts on “Sulking

  1. Dang. Sorry to hear that. Even if it wasn’t a case of really really NEEDING a job, it’s always a downer to not be picked for a team.

    I wouldn’t want to generate my own list completely. Not only would it be pretty boring and limited, it would also make me incredibly self-centered. I think. Not that I’ll ever have the chance to test that hypothesis . . .

  2. I’m sorry. Agree it’s fair to give yourself the chance to sulk. I often tell myself with those types of disappointments that there was probably something I didn’t see that would’ve made it the wrong fit for me. And then I eat a lot of sugar.

    • How righteously awesome is the human need to, in hindsight, say “clearly that wasn’t a fit”? I’d just like to get past the not-picked-for-kickball feeling and move onto so-glad-I-didn’t-get-that-because-now-I-have-this feeling.

  3. “I just want someone to look at my accomplishments and be impressed.”

    I am impressed by EVERYTHING you do. Seriously.

    But I know that rejection stings, and I agree with the other commenters that a good sulk is in order. So have at it. Here are some hugs. ((((((((Nap)))))))) Then: boing! (sound effect of you springing forth revived and ready to take. on. the. world.)

  4. Dude. Gotta start somewhere. Took me over a year to get the post kid ft job, then almost two years before the right job arrived. But the first made the second possible. Process. You will get the right thing. Window has been cracked. Get back to work… The easy kind you get paid for!

  5. I’m sorry you didn’t get the job. That always sucks, especially if you got to the interview phase.

    I started to read the Anne Marie Slaughter article and got annoyed very quickly. To me, the picture on p. 5 of the PDF says it all — one son looks pissed and annoyed (like a teenager almost always does) and the other looks like he’s just following orders. She looks like she’s happy as all get out. This is what happens when parenting becomes more about the parent than it is about the kids.

    • When I read it, it had no images, so that didn’t throw me But looking at it now, you’re right that I would have thought something different after that image. She said she had to leave the State Department because the boys were having a hard time, and who knows how soon after this article was written. But her argument about investment intervals and about teaching girls that they have to find a genuine partner if they ever want a career is astute. I also found compelling her argument that we need to think about the finances of investment intervals, and to acknowledge that the classic career high at 40 isn’t possible for most women, but that hitting our peak at 50 is.

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