Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Why It's Okay to Fail

A little over a year ago I left a job that I hated.  I had become a generally unhappy person because this job was sucking the life out of me.  I wasn’t passionate or even mildly happy about the work I was doing.  I wasn’t even interested in it.  I had to find a different job… but what?  I had worked in food service and then in accounting/customer service and neither had anything to do with the college degree I was close to earning.  What was I supposed to do?  I looked for my food service sanitation license in my files only to see that it was expired.  Not only that, it expired on the exact same day that was my last working day in that miserable office.  I really felt like that was a sign… I wasn’t going to be doing something I’d done before… It was time to branch out and step out of my comfort zone.

Being the optimist that I am, I pushed onward and applied for every job for which I was even remotely qualified.  I trusted that the right job would come to me… I just needed to put myself out there.  I knew I intended to continue homeschooling.  I knew I could homeschool and work full-time, and I knew that I needed a non-toxic work environment.   Oh, and I needed to get paid.

Day after day, Taylor saw me stare at the computer for hours and hours looking for a job.  Nothing fit.  I couldn’t figure out what it was that I was supposed to do.  I took personality tests, did countless phone and in-person interviews and never found anything that felt like a spark.  Then I found it… A job that felt like the “right” one!  Even better- I got called the day after sending my résumé.  I set up the interview and found out what the process would be like. 

Over the next 2 months I interviewed 6 times and each time was a little more serious than the time before.  I even worked with them for half a day to see how it fit.  I was pretty happy with it and told myself that it was perfect.  At the end of my 6th interview, which I felt went fantastic, I was told “I’ll call you and set a time to come in and go over the job offer and everything.”  Success!!  Her wording said it all!  I called my parents and told them the good news… “It sounds like I’ve got it!  It’s not official, but I got the job!”  I got the call and set up the time to go in.  I was excited but not even as nervous as previous interviews.  I felt good!

I walked in to her office for the 7th time, sat down, made small talk and got comfortable.  The words came out in slow motion as she leaned forward and said “We’re not going to give you the job.”  I don’t know what was said next or what I said… I just remember focusing really hard on not crying.  I’m sure I was wearing the disappointment all over my face.  I left the office and pulled out my phone… You’re supposed to call your spouse first.  But I couldn’t.  I texted my parents: “Didn’t get it. Don’t want to talk.”  Same to my friends who I had already told I pretty-much-had this job.  They all replied something sappy and typical and sweet, but not what I wanted.  I ignored the phone after that.   I don’t remember the drive across town towards home… I wasn’t crying.  I was silent, in shock.  And I could not bring myself to call or text Luke and tell him.  I got to be a block from home and emotions let loose… I couldn’t face him and Taylor after this.  I was so mad and upset and I’d put all my energy into THIS job.  I’d even turned down 2 other job offers and stopped applying while waiting this job out!  We needed for me to be working.  We needed this job and the experience that it would give me.  I decided that I needed to be alone.  I texted Luke: “I didn’t get it.  I’m upset.  Please take Taylor and get out of the house…. I need to be alone.”  He called.  I ignored.  He called again.  I ignored again.  He texted that it was okay, to talk to him, that everything would be fine… all the right things, basically.  But I wanted none of it.  For the first time I was not 100% positive that there was purpose behind this. 

I went inside, threw my interview suit across the room, put on my pajamas, and collapsed on my bed, locked the door and opened up the computer.  I wasn't going to stay upset; I was going to find a flipping job… I had to.  Thirty really fast minutes later, I hear Luke and Taylor come in.  Luke sends Taylor to play in her room and comes to the door.  He knocks, I say “not yet.”  I debate getting dressed and leaving.  I didn't want to disappoint him.  In true Luke fashion, he picks the lock.  He comes in and silently scoops me up and lets me sob.  No empty cliches and no “What’d they say?” questions.  Just pure love and acceptance at the moment that I felt like the biggest failure. 

Taylor, being an only child, knows no real boundaries with us.  If the bedroom door is open (and sometimes even if it’s not) she’ll come in.  I see her and she sees me and it’s apparent that something’s wrong.  Amazingly, the girl who questions everything (which I’m okay with!) has no questions.  She knows it’s just time for hugs and love.  She joins the hug and miraculously I’m feeling more like myself.  A family group hug may as well serve as a “reset” button.  Without another word we get up and decide to all go play a game of Frisbee Golf. 

Four weeks later I started the job I have now.  In hindsight, not getting that job was great for me.  It wouldn’t have given me the flexibility I need to be the kind of mom I want to be.  I wouldn't have been happy there.  My current job has been flexible from day 1- literally! I had to call in for my 2nd and 3rd work days because Taylor was very sick.  They said “family first” and didn’t think anything more of it.  The CEO even checked in with me about her.  It’s not like that at most companies and I know now that God had something more for me. 

Looking back, I can be happy that even in the depths of my failure, I showed Taylor what it’s like to pick myself right back up and hit it again.  I never learned anything so real and so raw as a child.  But I think it’s good that Taylor learned that failure is a part of this life and the more important part is how you respond to failure.  You’re allowed a time-out to cope.  Then you come together as a family and support each other through tough times.  And, most importantly, failure isn’t the end.