I’ve always hated exams. Probably because I’m terrible at them, something about the being tested thing, I’ve routinely felt throughout my life that I had nothing to prove to anyone, so who gives a shit if some stiff thinks I’m worthy of top marks? I know I am, isn’t that enough? Apparently not. The tests never end, hell there’s even one for preschool. Here in Trinidad pop quizzes start from the age of 5, which is insane and explains why I despise the process so very much. I was molded by said system.
Now, many years and world travels later I’m facing the dreaded job hunt, which is the worst test of all because gone is the fearless irresponsible nature of youth. The stakes are skyscraper high this time. The future is nay a cloudy concept but rather reality personified, tapping its foot waiting for you to get on with it. I give a huge shit about my future, as at the ripe old age of 29, I am a crusty loser; by my standards, by my own measure. Like I said, I don’t usually care about outside opinion, unless it involves fire or ducking. I believe I was a fully-certified loser after being denied a credit card. Instagram also confirms this everyday, I make the mistake of (between binge watching online TV), scouring the lives of my seemingly successful contemporaries. Instagram is the worst when your only feasible hashtags are things like; #hangingwithmadawgs #mybestfriendisfurry #bored #fml #… #singleandlovingit #funemployed.
I had a job interview with a well known website recently. Very well known. My interviewer was my age, maybe a year older. She had my dream job, an editor and writer. I perused her LinkedIn to prepare and a familiar feeling came over me. Much like the one I experience while looking at Sophia Bush’s Instagram page. How is she so accomplished? How did she do it? where did I fuck up? In hindsight researching was a bad idea pre-interview. Comparison is a self esteem murderer (especially if you are the lacking party) and it forthwith lowered my waning confidence significantly before she popped up on the computer screen in her perfect NYC apartment looking all gorgeously disheveled. She even lived in my favorite place on earth.
Despite a great hair day, I felt unbelievably lacking on the inside and outside. I positioned my head so it blocked the giant tear in the office chair I was seated on and hoped my Labrador retrievers wouldn’t burst into the room demanding I mediate their latest disagreement over a snake toy. I didn’t feel settled or complete or sure and was clawing for a more assertive version of myself as I rattled on about my life all over the world, scatterings of jobs I’d had. During my diatribe, I recalled her LinkedIn Profile, her alma mater, her awards. I had nothing but a BA I had yet to use and the rewards of wisdom gained from very bad decisions made during my third decade of existence.
Now, at the end of my twenties, my priorities have shifted to needing accomplishment. Despite the talent I think I have, it means nothing without recognition. Out of all my realizations, I hate that one the most. “The greatest humiliation in life, is to work hard on something from which you expect great appreciation, and then fail to get it.” said E.W. Howe, a freaking mind reader. In my nervous state I wanted her appreciation, it was the first time I cared about what someone thought, I wanted to measure up against a yard stick other than my own. Such a sensation didn’t fit my soul. I knew deeply she wouldn’t want me for the job. Especially when i blanked on questions I would usually slay. I’m a great bullshit-er with moderate knowledge of many things, though on this particular occasion my very needed skill failed me. She was so nice and attentive, said she liked me and to keep applying. I knew I wasn’t right for the job either but still, I hoped at a point she would see something in me, the spark we all hope we brew. Like the one Howard Hawks saw in Bacall and Woody saw in Diane. Alas, I fizzled out.
My pride teetered and shoulders sank as we signed off. I considered what a fiercely ambitious 29 year old would do. What would Instagram Sophia Bush or Lady Gaga do? if they were born in a third world country that is. It makes a huge difference, the starting point and where it’s placed. Strategy entirely depends on where you begin. It informs the journey significantly. My jump off consists of semi-illiterates and bananas. I believe an esteemed Trinidadian writer called it an “intellectual desert.” I thought about all this as I waded in green envy and potent self-pity post interview. I’d flunked this test. questions bounded off the walls of my head; Why am I not the one with that kind of power? You know the power of determining fates on Skype whilst languishing in a gorgeous urban apartment? Why was I born in the third world?
Such ire originates from the fact that I have been struggling for awhile. I watch countless UNICEF videos on kids in Syria to gain some perspective and to be thankful for my feather duvet and cool air. I am thankful for a lot. I have more than so many, even in my complete shriveling dependence on my good, good family. I’m like Voldemort when he was a little lizard creature swaddled and pathetic.
I think because the most basic needs are met, my psychology urges for more, it evolved to push my ambition. Failure became the monster under my bed.
Job hunting obviously provokes an existential crisis. I don’t believe I’m alone in this. It’s a process of rejection and humiliation. Weeding out the weak. Honestly I am tired of trying to convince people that I’m good enough, of wanting to measure up, passing their tests.
The worst part of it all is, It feels like I’m failing my own.