I got turned down for a job today. I’ve been going through the interview process for over a month and finally got confirmation tonight that they decided to select another candidate.
I feel super shitty and sad for myself and I know that it’s foolish and juvenile. But I’m still doing it.
How do you cure the “I’m not good enough blues”?
Check the booty bounce
If you’re not worried already, you need to be. Read This article from the New York Times Sunday Review to learn more.
In healthy years a billion or more monarch butterflies made the epic flight from Canada and far north US to the Sierra Madre mountain forests in Central Mexico. The event was so reliable that it became intertwined with cultural traditions of the region.
The day of the dead, celebrated on November 1 marked the arrival of the beautiful black and orange butterflies. The butterflies are believed to be the souls of the dead returned.
Last year 60 million monarchs arrived in central mexico. A disastrously low number.
This year, only three million monarchs made the migration. How much time is left?
Do you care to imagine a world where your children might only get to read about a Monarch butterfly or a honey bee?
ANSWERS DO COME DID BUDDHA SAY THAT?
When my agent (hi Leslie!) sent me an extensive editorial letter on the first draft of my book in December, I almost had a nervous breakdown. The task of writing the thing had been so monumental and draining that I didn’t think I had the energy to work on it anymore.
Instead, over the past two months, I’ve been sort of saying, “Fuck you” to my career, and trying to enjoy every day. Cooking in the middle of the afternoon (ie experimenting because I cannot cook), waking up when I felt like it rather than setting an alarm, reading a ton of books, ending my work day at 10am if I had a handle on deadlines. Oh, and wedding planning, which I love.
It’s a universal thing that if you clutch too tightly onto something, it probably means that it makes you afraid. And if something makes you afraid, it’s probably not good for you. Like a relationship with a guy you don’t want to let go out with his friends because you’re afraid he’ll cheat on you. I was clutching so tightly to my identity as a writer that whenever it seemed in danger — thanks to a bad edit, a killed assignment, or my editorial letter from my agent, which basically said, “this isn’t there yet, you need to work harder on it” — I would panic, like my identity was in danger of falling apart. None of this was career ending, of course, but when you’re so afraid, you can only see in the very short term — and every little setback seems monumental.
When I said “fuck you” to my career, I was, as someone famous once suggested, “loving it but letting it go.”
You spend a lot of your 20s trying to figure out what makes you happy. I tried a lot of different jobs, and sometimes I’d really enjoy whatever I was doing, but before long, I’d lose interest in it. Writing was the one thing I’ve always found to be challenging and fulfilling. At first, this was important to me on a practical level, because it made each day a little more bearable. Then, it played into a higher level goal I’ve always set for myself, and that goal was to become SOMETHING. Something special. Something extraordinary.
(I know this desire to be “extraordinary” is like an illness of my generation. But you know what, fuck you American dream, is it really?)
I’m like bone tired today, so I think I lost my train of thought. But I’m writing this post because I actually do think that it helps people to hear about other people’s struggles and perceived failures so that they don’t feel so alone. I wish I heard about other people’s failures more, not to revel in them, but more to feel like I’m part of a community.
When I first got the editorial letter, I thought it was indicative of a failure. I was like, “I actually can’t do what my agent (hi Leslie!) wants me to do, because I’m not capable of it.” And “she hates me.” And “my dream of becoming a published author just fell apart.” And “I’m not that extraordinary after all!”
Because I’m not that fucking extraordinary! People think that really successful writers just like sit in their bed every morning and output stuff because their writing is just so fucking beautiful and brilliant. A lot of people write beautifully. Successful writers are just really, really stubborn people who face a failure, and somehow keep going. That’s not a writing thing. That’s like a life thing. Like a writer would be the type, in the event of an apocalypse, whose entire shelter would be destroyed by like a nuclear bomb, and they’d lose both hands, but they’d still keep on building their own shelter back even though they could live in the shelter next door for no reason besides that they WANTED TO BE A FUCKING SHELTER BUILDER. It’s a completely irrational motivation, and you need to have a screw missing to follow the impulse.
I was afraid I wasn’t one of those people, even though I wanted to be one. But over the past two months, something miraculous happened. And that was that my subconscious, while my body and consciousness were taking a fucking break (ie smoking weed, chillin with the homies), was slowly working out what I needed to do to get a second draft going. And when the idea was ready, it popped into my head, and the whole solution seemed so obvious.
I ran this new idea, which provided a clear narrative structure, past my agent and the two people who were most critical of the original draft, and they loved it! Which says a lot, because the first few times I ran ideas past my agent, she was like, “Um, I think you need to think this one through.” Or, “Please don’t email me again until your manuscript is done.”
I have a feeling this post is insane, so I’m not going to read it over. Otherwise, I’ll delete it. But I think the lessons I’ve learned over the past few months is that I need to learn patience. And humility is a clarifying force. And also, maybe my identity as a writer won’t leave me ever! And finally, if a problem needs to be solved, the answer will come, because even when you’re not actively thinking about the solution, your brain is working on it. This goes for anything — a decision about where to move, or whether or not to end a relationship, or grad school or children or marriage or online shopping purchases or whatever. ANSWERS DO COME DID BUDDHA SAY THAT?
This second draft could completely fail too, but I have the impulse to work on it. Now comes the heavy lifting part, but I’m good at that because I’m Irish and I have big hands and I’m stubborn as fuck. My friend Sadie said, last night, “Hard is what you’re good at,” and I’m going to write that on my forehead backwards every morning with a Sharpie and look at myself in the mirror when I feel discouraged. I’m not going to do that. But I might write it on a post-it, and stick it on my shelter wall.