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  • Writer's pictureJackie Habib

Letting go of what might have been

Today has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I haven't been happy at work for a couple of months now. Things changed abruptly which is why it feels like I've had these feelings for longer than that. I started my search for a new job one month ago and have had interviews scheduled ever since. This time around, I decided to be selective of which organizations to apply to and chose ones I felt good about (at least on paper).

There was one, in particular, I was hoping to have an opportunity to interview for. It's a music software company that's exciting and it jumped up to the top of my list. I was thrilled when the recruiter reached out to schedule an interview. I'm usually a good interviewee. It felt great to know I at least had an opportunity to charm them.

I felt the interview was OK. As the days passed, I began to worry, anxiously replaying the entire thing in my head, searching for where it went wrong. I decided I would follow up with an email if I didn't hear back today (one week since the interview). I rationalized that if they weren't interested, they would've sent me a generic automated email by now, as others have done.

After a positive third interview for a different job, I found an email from the recruiter of the music one in my mailbox asking if we could touch base later in the day. I was relieved to hear back but wasn't sure what it was going to be about. I rushed off a work call to make sure I was available when she called.

I felt I wasn't enthusiastic enough on the first call and welcomed the opportunity to try again. (Sidenote - phone call interviews are not great for people who rely heavily on their faces and hands to gesture and show emotion. When I talk about work, my voice is steady, consistent, but does not heavily express passion. I wish more recruiters realized that.)

I picked up the call and she said that they decided to move forward with candidates that better aligned with them. I was disappointed and after I hung up, went into a spiral of anxiety, regret, and self-blame. If only I could've been more enthusiastic on the first call, if only I could've connected with her better, if only I had phrased things in a different way.

I spent about 20 minutes frantically searching for new jobs that were posted and applied to a few. And then, I crashed on the couch. Curled up in a ball of anxiety and stress, my mind raced through so many thoughts. It's never coherent sentences, it's a jumble of phrases, words, images that pop up.

My inner dialogue is so cruel because that's how I was treated and taught to talk to myself.

I received a generous offer yesterday but I have decided to turn it down. While on the couch, I began to think about the two other roles I am still in the running for. One of them has chosen me as the finalist, another is also promising. They are not as exciting as getting to work in the music industry, as being genuinely passionate about the business itself, but so far, I have enjoyed the people I talked with.

There are some risks in that one is a private equity firm and another is a business that is constantly acquiring new businesses. There's going to be a lot of uncertainty if I take one of those roles.

Somehow, I managed to talk myself off that ledge, to bring down my anxiety level enough to unclinch my jaw, loosen my shoulders, and take a deep breath. I thought, "I will be ok. This isn't the only amazing job out there. I will figure this out." Then I got up, put on some shoes, and drove to the local grocery store to pick up some snacks since we were expecting a big storm tonight and tomorrow.

Consistently having to talk yourself off the ledge of anxiety is exhausting. Mentally, it feels like I've run 100 miles. I want to collapse and do nothing for hours, days, weeks. When I don't have the energy to make food, it's not because I'm physically too tired, it's because I lack the mental energy to decide what to make.

I'm off to make some brownies for comfort and watch something that makes me feel good and can distract me from the racing thoughts in my head.


no amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of anxiety can change the future. - Unknown


Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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