Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Write so the heart stays soft: On vulnerability and interviewing

Vulnerability: Telling the truth without worrying whether or not it sounds good. Revealing the self without concealing imperfections. Admitting freely when I don't have my shit together. -me

A lesson from interviewing: Embrace Vulnerability

I've had multiple interviews in the last few months. 

Interviewing sucks. For everyone. It sucks for those who are trying to decide whether you are the right person for the job, just as much as for us who are trying to find a place where we can fit in, contribute, and be happy about how we spend our time. 

It is the art of constructing an identity. It is a first date when you want to look your best, because contrary to what we say and want to believe, looks in our culture do matter. It is learning what people want to hear and saying it in a way that says, "I'm genuine." At worst, it feels fake. At best, you are able to find a place where you are valued and you are being genuine.  

It is constructing conversations in the head, with potential employers, parents,friends and acquaintances. 

It is learning not to take it personally when you are rejected, even though sometimes it is you and it is personal.

It is creating and telling a narrative while stifling insecurities and feelings of inadequacy, incompetency, fear, shame, and guilt. It is glossing over past failed projects, goals and dreams that never materialized, wishes lost in the sea of possibilities. It means trying to maintain a sense of worth. It is pushing back on the feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong. 

If I admit that these feelings are just stronger than me right now, then it's confirmed that the feelings are, indeed, truth. 

This narrative, which attempts to omit these feelings, might actually just be my self unraveling. 

Conversation doesn't happen in a vacuum, and you can't hide behind your weaknesses and failures without being "outed." So, I'm trying to embrace vulnerability and perhaps say, yes, I am unraveling. I'm trying. 

I think (hope) this is a lesson I'll look back on and want to carry. Embracing vulnerability is one of the murkier conversations with the self. It can't be scripted, or omitted. The feelings need to have a place at the table. They need to have a space to voice their concerns. And I want to listen to them. Even though it bruises my ego.

This means I have to sit down at the table and have that conversation with my weaknesses and failures, my fears and shame, and say, I hear you. You matter to me. I'm all in. And it's ok. 

This is one conversation that takes practice. Now to find a way to embrace vulnerability while interviewing. 

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