Once, a long time ago, I wrote about the first full-time job offer I ever got. After months of really soul-deflating job applications and a scant handful of interviews that led nowhere, I was offered a job that I knew I could not put my heart into. I had an idea of where I wanted to go, and this job would absolutely not lead me there.
So I said no to a decently-paying gig with no other prospects on the horizon. I just had to believe that something else would come along. I knew that as a recent college grad, I wasn’t going to land my dream job right away, but I wasn’t about to waste my time and energy on something that wouldn’t, as Neil Gaiman said so eloquently in that speech that I will just not shut up about, get me closer to the mountain.
Shortly(ish) after this first offer I got another, at an ad agency, which was exactly where I thought I should be at the time. And it did move me toward that mountain–while, perhaps most importantly–illuminating that my dream job was not “account executive at an ad agency.”
After giving higher ed another go, I found myself in a situation that was all too familiar and still as disconcerting: I had to get myself employed again, while moving closer to my mountain than ever. Grad school gave me plenty of tools to climb it once I got there, and I never lost sight of it while working through my degree, but now it was time to nut up.
Which is why I moved across the country to a place with a fuller job market in my industry. Without a job lined up. It’s why I’ve taken a part-time internship that has been at times exciting and discouraging while continuing to search for something closer to what I know I’m meant to do. It’s why I’ve been so careful about what I apply for and why I search every week for something better.
Of course, there are times you just have to take what you can get. Its also pretty imperative to have someone amazing by your side to support you financially and emotionally. Having come through this once is helping me push through the fear and the what-if-this-isn’t-going-to-happens.es.
And in case you find yourself in a similar situation, looking for a way to get to your mountain or up to that peak, let me be your cheerleader: just keep climbing! Keep going. You WILL make it. You deserve to make it. You’re allowed to feel sad about rejections and you’re allowed to be discouraged about how far you have yet to go every now and then. It SUCKS to feel stuck, to not be moving in the right direction. But you’re not allowed to give up.
For me, it’s been a scary, depressing, thrilling, and soul-searching journey–and it’s not over yet–but I keep reminding myself that an opportunity is out there, waiting for me at Base Camp #1. And maybe, just maybe, a victory cake is waiting for me at the peak.
Covered in fucking gold.