A road trip seemed to be just what I needed.
A chance to get away from the job search and the same four small four walls that sometimes engulf me as I figure out my next steps in California. I had just gotten word that after a series of three successful interviews; I had, in fact, not gotten the job.
I was happy to learn more about an organization I admire and realize they’re the type of supportive and nurturing environment I’d want to be apart of. What a pleasure to know great organizations are out there. They were polite. The hiring manager even offered to provide feedback. I made the assumption that (because I’m so damn hard on myself) the deal breaker would be my level of Spanish, after all, the job required I’d be teaching some classes in Spanish.
My Spanish is good but is it up to par to teach?!
I was up to the challenge. I’m finally starting to claim I’m bilingual. Everyone’s definition is different. I need to stop selling myself short.
In addition to the interviews, I had to prepare a 5 minute presentation in English and in Spanish highlighting my new knowledge of My Plate, the newest model of what once was the Food Pyramid, to show them how I facilitate a class and of course, my ability to speak Spanish.
My initial reaction was “No thanks. I’ll do anything but… ” but I knew I didn’t’ have that kind of choice. I had to bite the bullet, push my comforts and just do it.
Easier said than done but I had a deadline. I had two-days to prep for the third and final interview and create, prepare and rehearse a presentation. For a moment, I was thankful for being jobless, if only because I had the time to put my full attention to this opportunity. Happy to reach a level of comfort of knowing the information well to give a presentation without note cards with Spanish freely flowing from my tongue about nutrition.
The day of the interview I was naturally more nervous about the presentation than the questions that would come my way from the Directors of the Department. I had taken a friend’s advice who never prepares, to just be myself and answer the questions as best I could. They asked me some unexpected questions and where I didn’t have the exact experience they hoped for I graciously told them, “I can learn or find the answers. I’m resourceful.” Heck, travel and life abroad taught me a few things. Because how the hell am I suppose to get the experience without having an opportunity?
I walked out of the office feeling accomplished and did an internal fist pump knowing I had done my very best. This, after all, is all I can ask of myself. Shit, a native speaker sat in and my interviewers pretended to be student’s asking questions from the “new” information I just presented. Naturally, there were (good) questions they asked that I hadn’t considered and I answered them on the spot carefully in my adopted tongue. You know the type of questions that don’t have an exact outlined answer and it’s a sensitive topic when you’re teaching about eating healthier. It doesn’t matter if it’s my native or adopted tongue, they’re tricky. I went out and celebrated chill out style with a good friend in North Beach… at a local sandwich shop (Yeah, real swanky, that’s how I roll) for just doing it. For just pushing myself through the process and making it happen. I felt so grown-up as I’ve never had that many interviews for one job before.
Hitting the road felt like the next best thing.
I may as well as enjoy my free time because once this job thing comes along, I’ll be doing the silly 9-5 thing, nose pressed hard to the grind and I’ll be questioning why I gave up all my free time. The irony of life. Wanting what’s on the other side of the tracks. If only I could know when a job will align, I could fully relax and just enjoy myself. Will it be in a month or three or six? If I knew, this hanging cloud of uncertainty would just evaporate.
But as everyone reminds me, life doesn’t work that way.
I can dream and wish it and beg the universe, can’t I?
What I didn’t expect, in part because I inquired about feedback while on the road, was how much my head would spin, churn and question myself. Fear set in and worries of “when will it come” seemed to spiral out of control. I chatted briefly with my travel buddy not wanting to bore him with my silly thoughts and self-doubt, though having lived through plenty more jobs and rejections, he kept it real and positive.
“Eventually you’ll get a job and you may as well get used to it, this won’t be the first time you’ll be rejected.
Why thanks. For keeping it real and to the point.
No leaning my head on his shoulder to sob myself a way but rather pick yourself up and go run along, chase more dreams type of attitude. Maybe it’s exactly what I needed, though in the moment, my misery would have loved company.
As it turns out, my Spanish wasn’t mentioned. My Spanish was good enough for them.
Lesson learned: Stop beating myself up so much.
So (I think) my grammar isn’t perfect but I can communicate, understand and give a freaking presentation in an adopted tongue. I’m doing well.
They simply had changed the requirements a bit and hoped I had more experience and knowledge under my belt. That’s all. I felt I had no control. Nothing tangible to work with or to improve upon but simply, more experience, please.
I was upset though how could I be, they were kind. I’m not the “perfect fit” they were looking for. And no, they hadn’t found someone else. Good luck to them.
In the moment, I was annoyed, angry, frustrated but the truth is, sometimes opportunities that may seem (almost) perfect may not be. Everything has it’s timing. But can I be upset. If anything, I’m grateful for all the experience. I’m gaining valuable interview experience and practicing interviewing them as well. At the end of the day, it’s an equal exchange. Do they think I’m a fit but more importantly, is the organization/company a fit for me? I’m learning more about organizations and what I want. I do believe in timing and things aligning. I must be patient.
I may not understand the process or the rejections now but down the road, I’ll look back and it will all make sense.
Now that I can reflect back on the trip, the rain and gloomy gray clouds certainly didn’t help my down depressive feelings. But I was also reminded of encounters with local strangers while traveling, who questioned my travels. A voice echoed in my head from a young woman I met while on the Eurostar, trading a day train for the views for a night train due to an impending French strike. (After 2 years in Europe, I know strikes are all to common place in France).
“You know, you can’t escape your issues by traveling, you can’t escape yourself, you take the problems with you wherever you go.” Clearly, she had tried to escape herself via travel and thought she was being thoughtful to share her immense wisdom except I was surprised. What the F&*% are you talking about was what I was thinking.
My travels in Africa weren’t too escape. Traveling in Africa was about personal discovery, curiosity and adventure.
I’ve never traveled to escape myself.
But I can understand what she was referring to now.
Spontaneous, I do well. Content as a clam not to have a destination, both of us just curious of what the open road offered, stopping when we were so inclined and continuing on North when the road beckoned. A good life without complaints. But the further we headed up North, I kept thinking, I’m glad I don’t live here as we passed one small coastal town and industrial spot to the next. It felt so far away, far from all the things I love and have come to cherish in the SF Bay Area, though as I type this, I find the irony. I’ve talked about wanting to live in the countryside yet still want to live within reach of what city life offers.
I’ll still want access to a lively town or city life. I want balance. I’m still figuring out what that looks like here. And one thing the Bay Area does well is the abundance of open space, hiking trails, a gorgeous bay and beaches. I don’t have to drive more than 15 minutes to be in the woods or admiring an amazing vista, and I love that. I love I can escape the hectic ness of this wondrous play land. Maybe in some strange way, the SF Bay Area has it all (minus the high cost of living)
Often, names on the map sounded alluring. Coos Bay. Florence. Toledo. Two of which, are European cities. No wonder. I created a mental image of what the place would offer and would be disappointed or confused when it was a small one-stop town or more industrial than I expected. How could I know what these names represented without any guide or pamphlet professing what we’d soon stumble upon. It wasn’t until we were mid trip that we stopped at a visitor center for information, though we weren’t sure what we needed or wanted without having any goals. And by the time we graced Oregon rain was the norm. We stopped less to enjoy the views of the ocean. The gray horizon blended with the ocean making for horrible photos but an interesting pause, reminded of how much more beautiful the ocean is when the sun is shining and reflecting rays of colors off the water.
So maybe a road trip wasn’t what I needed.
I just needed to be with myself.
We continued on and made a U-turn when we saw a crab shack by the side of the road. Crab season and there were plenty of crab shacks for a good 80 mile stretch of road. We carried on each night unsure of where we’d stay until our third night when we decided we’d veer away from the coastal highway and give ourselves 36 hours in Portland.
I like the uncertainty of being on the road without a plan.
I know this about myself from my Africa travels and even weekends away in Europe. I wondered why I do so well with no plans, no ideas of what come next when I’m on the road or living abroad but I’m anxious and nervous when I’m figuring out next steps on my own turf.
Expectations. Lots of expectations on myself, self and societal pressure being home while traveling is often for a set amount of time or temporary rather than a feeling of permanency.
The open road may be alluring but wherever you go, there you are.
You take yourself with you along with all the positive and negative thoughts. Changing the scenery doesn’t always equal clearing your mind. Though when I left, I didn’t know I’d get so down and hard on myself.
Or maybe a road trip was exactly what I needed to remind me of what I want, what I need.
Staying in one spot focusing within and pursuing my career interests. Acknowledging the fears and then facing them.
Thank you travel for guiding the way.