You work years to attain that one thing – your dream job. And then you discover it’s your worst nightmare…
You’ve worked and waited a decade for it. There are very few, and competition is high. Once you have it, you’d practically have to murder someone in your office to get fired. It’s your dream.
The position comes open (finally! you were beginning to think someone would have die first) and you read application blogs on how to prepare cover letters, what’s the best format for your resume…You ask all your friends to send you their materials for you to pour over until your eyes bleed – how to interview, what questions to ask, what to wear, what to be ready to answer, what to do with your hands, how to wear your hair…
You write your cover letter, trash it, write it again, tear out chunks of hair, trash it again, read some more blogs.
Then, a week before the application is due, you wake up at the crack of midnight, after a blood-curdling nightmare.
Sweat chills on your clammy skin, a roiling sick feeling somersaults in your stomach, and your hands shake as you reassure the dog that you’re okay, even though you’re not.
The worst part: it wasn’t a nightmare that you didn’t get the job – but a nightmare that you DID.
(You fight the urge to get in your car and drive to your boyfriend in Arizona, or as close to it as you can get with the money you have.)
And you realize, after staring at your own panicked eyes in the mirror in the pre-dawn light, that if you take this job…a part of your soul will die.
You’ll have to do even more of these things you hate – the professional development, the committees, the networking, the projects – only it will be worse, because you’ll be under scrutiny the whole time, with an entire committee of people telling you how to do it, when to do it, that you need to do more of it – and the whole reason you wanted the job in the first place will be lost.
You’ll pour your whole self into doing the job right, because that’s who you are. And the price you’ll pay will be your health, your sanity, and your dreams.
You smoke, and drink a huge cup of cold coffee, pacing. (The dog follows you, thinking this is some new game or better yet – oh boy, a ride!)
And you realize, stopping stark still with the car keys clutched in your hand, that if you take this job… you. will. never. write.
Your First Dream
Writing was your first dream. Writing was the dream that kept you from committing to oh, so many “real” jobs in your twenties (when, while working as a barmaid, you hand-wrote 400 pages of story in your off hours).
Writing kept you alive when your family broke, writing kept you sane when you went back to school in your late twenties, feeling ridiculously out-of-place, but determined to be something, anything, other than a barmaid for the rest of your life. Anything but a writer.
Because writing wasn’t practical.
You did some. You entered contests and even won! You met real writers, you learned something about the business. You realized how very hard it is to make a living writing. You realized that you were nearly thirty, with no degree and no skills except storytelling and slinging drinks.
You put away the stories, buckled down, and tried to find something “respectable” to do, something that would elicit from your family a look other than poorly-hidden pity. You found something, something that fired your imagination, that spoke to your love of stories, even if it wasn’t your stories. Something that let you get lost in other people’s lives, and took you out of your own.
And you did it. You put away your stories and put all that energy into someday, ten years later, finally attaining the dream job, where you could be a part of stories, even if they weren’t the stories you wanted to tell.
And then you woke up one night in the early morning hours, shaking and sweating and panicking.
And decided to fight for your real dream.