I almost didn’t go. To the interview, I mean. For the job I have now.
This is hard for me to admit, and beyond laughable in hindsight. There’s no logical reason to why I would have done that. I’m occasionally slow to notice something good when it’s in front of me, and it wasn’t as if this wasn’t a blinking, red light of an opportunity. Financial advisor, at the bank. Closer to home, a move up, more challenges. All good things.
So let’s pull this back a bit. You probably need some background.
As the prior paragraph indicates, I work at a bank. I’ve mentioned it once or twice in the past. I work with customers as an advisor: bank accounts, credit, mortgages, investments, whatever. I’ve worked at mostly smaller branches so far, which is better for me. I get to do a lot of different things, and got to know clients and co-workers very well. It leveraged some of my strengths: being good with people, flexible, smart, figuring out systems and getting stuff done quickly.
I’ve always struggled with the “selling” aspect of it. If I didn’t truly believe something was the right thing for the person sitting across the desk from me, I couldn’t push it. I hated calling people, but I did it.
So when a few people in a few different areas of my life suggested interviewing for this job, I was reluctant initially. More “selling”, something I didn’t see myself as being good at. More responsibility. More pressure. Did I want that?
I had a week off. Around my birthday, every year, for no other reason than I liked taking it off. But even with the free time, it took a few days before I threw my name in the hat for this job. The same doubts kept creeping up, the same reluctance. It was sales, and that was a struggle for me.
But there was a lot of good here: it was closer to home. It would have some responsibilities that I enjoyed, and could potentially set me up for a leadership role. Get away from the selling eventually, if I did good. And if I was being honest with myself, I felt stuck where I was. I loved the people, but I’d run my course there.
We set up the interview, on a Saturday. I was up late the Friday before, where I’d spent time on my resume, going through my results from the last year, my failures towering, staring me in the face as I clicked “send” to email my potential next manager.
Look at that. Those numbers are bad.
Why would she hire you?
I was a bad salesman, which isn’t good when that’s the primary measure of your job. I was reluctant, or unmotivated, or unconfident. There was good: I was smart, good-natured, willing to help… just not getting the numbers.
There was some irony in my doubts in my own ability playing off the feeling of being stuck in my job. Two wrongs almost making a right. I eventually hit “send”, somewhere past midnight on the Friday.
Saturday morning came, and with it a weight that was almost crushing. The doubts were back, and they’d brought friends. Soothing voices, of routine, of not changing a routine that had a certain comfort, if not enjoyment.
Cancel the interview.
Tell her you changed your mind. You don’t need this.
I was close to it. The interview was at noon, and I sat in bed between 9 and 11, my mind closing in on itself. It had been a long time since I’d felt so weighed down.
I’m a Christian, and that means I accept there are forces beyond my control. So what were these doubts? Why was my mind trying to tell me not to go, to stay in bed, to just continue muddling along in a job I mostly tolerated? Was it chemical? Something I’d eaten? Or something exterior?
Whatever it was, I managed to shake it off. A cold shower, my best suit, a good tie, and a deep breath got me to the door.
The short drive to the branch was probably good. It didn’t give my doubts time to mass for another assault on my psyche.
I interview well. This was something I was good at in my job: people like me, for whatever reason, and I tend to make a good impression. It made my struggles all the more perplexing to prior bosses. I get that.
I was honest with my potential new boss. I’d struggled with the work. I was a project, in some ways. She’d be rolling the dice with me. But I wanted to be good. I wanted to find that magical middle ground: Where I could do the sales part of the job, and have it be something I was good at. I just needed some help to get there.
I had to avoid laughing, at parts of the interview. She was talking like I was already there, like she was going to hire me, like I was going to be some essential component of her team, leading and mentoring and doing great. There were moments I wanted to stand up and shake her. The thoughts, the doubts, were said, and lingering for me, just below the surface.
Why? Why would you hire me?
But she didn’t see it that way. She had the benefit of experience, of objectivity. She didn’t see my analytical mind, swimming in its own uncertainty, trapped on the bed, ready to pick up the phone and call the whole thing off. Her certainty emboldened me, made me sure I’d done the right thing.
I walked out of the interview certain I was going to have a new job soon. I felt excited about work, for the first time in as long as I could remember. The weight, the doubts, the failures, didn’t matter.
There’s a lot of work to do. I want to get better. I want to improve. I wanted to bottle that feeling, and keep it for the times I felt stressed, for the times I felt weighed down by the same uncertainty I had then. But change, challenge, new work… it was something I was looking forward to. But excitement? At work? That was unfamiliar.
All that, from an interview I almost didn’t go to.