“I got the job!” That is such an exciting sentence isn’t it? I was really looking forward to shouting that to my husband sometime this month. Only I guess I would have had to say, “I got the minimum wage paying internship!” Still, it was an exciting prospect, while it lasted…
I applied for a few different internships at WNYC, New York’s public radio station. I submitted my application on March 6th. The deadline for all applications was March 24th. It’s been crickets. I’m taking the hint and moving on with my life — but not without a bit of reflection.
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I didn’t get called in for an interview. After all, they were specifically asking for students in their senior year or recent college grads. I guess I just figured my “alternative” definition of “recent” would slide — that’s a thing now, right?
If I am being honest though, I was a little surprised I didn’t at least get an interview. I thought if they were making movies about 70-year-old interns, a 33-year-old one was not so far-fetched. I worked really hard on my applications. I am an avid listener of the station and I feel like I know the shows that I was applying to work on really well. I was sure my answers were so thoughtful and clever that they would at least consider making an exception to their age rule.
It’s a bummer not getting picked. But it’s not soul crushing, like I thought it might be. I’m adding this to a growing list of internships and fellowships that I haven’t gotten — wholehearted attempts to shift my career path. Don’t get me wrong, I did the thing where I imagined my life upon procuring the position. I was going to be running around a newsroom and researching stories and getting a tingle up my spine when breaking news came in. I was going to not care that I was working long hours and making no money because I would be so fulfilled by what I was doing. I would probably post something on Facebook about never giving up on your dream. Then after the internship concluded, I would inevitably be offered a job. My employers would pat themselves on the back behind closed doors, my stellar work vindicating the chance they took on the 33-year-old intern.
It was a fun daydream. I guess what I am learning from applying to all these things is that my real dream isn’t clear anymore, and that is actually okay. I feel like I’ve been choosing dessert in the dark on a weekday. I walk around, and imagine how sweet each item would be, but I’m not really sure what I want. Then in the end, I am told I don’t get to have any. I shrug and I think, it’s fine, I don’t eat sweets during the week anyway. In the past I have felt jealous of other people — the ones who are so sure about the vocation that will fulfill them. I’ve been envious of stay-at-home moms and dads who know they are right where they are supposed to be. I imagine that clarity to be so comforting, knowing that you are putting your energy in the right place. The more people I talk to though, the more I realize I may have been over-romanticizing the whole career process. I had always thought the right work would feel like meeting my husband; it would make me feel like I fit somewhere, it would make me happy. I’m sure this could exist for me, I’m just over the search for it being so angst-filled.
I’ve always been sure that everyone has dreams. Since I moved to New York City a little over 7 years ago, I’ve lived and worked under the pressure of the idea that there are two types of people: Those who never give up on their dreams, and those who do. Up until recently, I’d never realized or acknowledged the weight of this belief. My definition of success for myself had become so narrow. So much so that I realized if I continued on this way, I would have to cross my fingers and hope there was still room for joy there if some success was ever actually achieved.
I was advising a single friend the other day that she didn’t need to wait for a significant other to be happy. The conversation reminded me that we are actually in the middle of living the lives we get to live. All the starting lines we put in our heads are kind of bullshit. There is not happiness when… there is happiness now, and I’ve never been more convinced that this state of being is a choice.
I’m going to continue to apply for internships for which I am too old, and fellowships I am probably not qualified for. I am also going to take advantage of the opportunities for advancement I have in my current career. Up until now, I have avoided them. I was sure that climbing the ladder in a line of work that was not my all-consuming passion meant that I was giving up on “bigger” dreams. Again, bullshit. I am only giving up if I am not learning, if I am not trying to make myself better wherever the opportunities present themselves. I’m quite certain my thinking has been backward. I’ve been waiting for a career to fulfill me, but maybe I need to fulfill the career. I’ve been giving my job half my heart for a few years now. But how can that make sense? I don’t do that with anything else. I don’t skip the gym and expect to be happy with my fitness. I don’t avoid hard conversations with my husband and then expect our relationship to be great. So why have I been surprised that a job I give only half my all to has not been satisfying? Perhaps when I give this job my full effort, I will get back everything this job has to give. And who knows, perhaps the universe will see that I’ve given and gotten everything I can, and I’ll finally get the green light on another opportunity.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. -Thomas A. Edison