About a month ago, I applied for a job I didn’t really want.
The position? Editor-in-chief of an in-flight travel magazine for an airline in a country I really happen to love.
It’s a position for someone who’s fully bilingual. A position that involves talent searching, contracting, and working with writers; mapping out a whole new content strategy; taking this print product online; and other exciting challenges.
So why didn’t I want it?
First, I love my job as a writer and the managing editor of Matador. I work with people I respect and admire, people who are living their dreams and doing good work– with all the joy and struggle that both entail. I love what we’re building together and I believe in our work and vision. I love where we’re headed, how we work together, and the opportunities this work has given me professionally (I just finished working with senior editor David Miller on developing a travel writing curriculum for MatadorU, the travel writing school we launched this week).
Second, I haven’t worked in an office for more than five years now, and maybe it sounds uppity for those of you who do, but I just don’t see myself going back to a cube (especially one with a totally open floor plan– i.e.: no door to shut). I like flowing. I like getting up and going to bed when I feel like it. I like not having to commute. I like sitting around in my pajamas and writing at home. I like eating three meals a day with my husband, going to the museum, the movies, events, whenever I like, adjusting my writing and editing schedule around my life, not the reverse. I like taking a nap if and when I feel tired, going to the library when I want to look for a book, and being able to go on a trip when I feel like it, not when a boss decides it works for everyone else.
But I applied.
Because I wanted to see how competitive a candidate I am for the position. Am I viable? Would I even get called in for an interview? Did I even still know how to interview? Would I be offered the position? What kinds of money and benefits might they dangle as an incentive? And what kinds of contacts might I make just by putting myself out there?
I was called in to interview.
“So what will you do about being pregnant?” a few people asked me. Someone recommended I not interview at all–I probably wouldn’t get hired.
But getting hired wasn’t the point. Putting myself through the paces was the point.
And I had the most extraordinary experience.
I prepared for the interview as I’d prepare for any meeting. I didn’t go buy a $200 suit I’d wear once; I put on a sundress, threw a jacket on top of it, and decided “You’ll like me as I am or you won’t.” I wouldn’t mention anything about being pregnant– I’d let the interviewer bring it up. I’d ask for concessions that I’d have never asked for under other circumstances: Could I work from home?
I had nothing to lose.
I interviewed today and didn’t feel nervous. Not even for a second. I enjoyed myself. I felt comfortable with myself. I was proud of my answers and ideas, proud of my background and my work.
“I can’t help but notice that you’re uh…. uh… expecting,” the interviewer said, clearly wanting to ask a question, but not quite sure how to ask it. “Yes,” I said; “my due date is September 25.” He wanted to know how I planned to “work around that.”
The answer, of course, is that I don’t plan to “work around it.” I’m blessed because I have a job I love that allows me not to view my child, my family, or my life as something that needs to be worked around.
But it sure was fun to go interview for a job knowing I had nothing to lose, feeling proud of how I held my own, and leaving the meeting without any attachment, expectations, or hopes.