June 17, 2011 Leave a comment
You remember the one. In the video Paula Abdul dances and flirts up a storm with her imaginary friend, MC Skat Kat. The last 36 hours totally remind me of the lyrics of that song: two steps forward, two steps back.
After spending a weepy Tuesday evening with my therapist confessing that I was terrified that I wasn’t ever going to escape my current job, I got a call Wednesday night from the one recruiter still working for me, about an opportunity that he thought would be ideal. Great news, right? Well, the big but in the room was that I would have to be in Korea for July 4th ideally or July 11th at the outside. By the end of three phone calls finishing up at 2:30am, we were talking about a July 18th start date (better) and a phone interview with the school for this morning at 2:30am.
I should have been happy but I was miserable. It’s funny how you can get an idea in your head of how you want things to play out and how jarring it can be when they don’t work out that way. Apart from the fact that I thought I was going to have no trouble finding a job in Korea, I had planned for this nice, manageable timeline to get things done. I envisioned getting an offer and having a couple months to wrap up my life here. Not, barely 30 days. By the time these phone calls started to get heavy, my go-to people–my sister and MissSnickerpants–were both fast asleep. Even my late-night friend, the guy who is not being forced to edit this blog post right now, wasn’t answering my calls (turns out he’s not in town).
Thankfully, by yesterday afternoon, with the help of both my go-to people, I was feeling calm, if still bloody tired from late night phone calls and an early morning visit to the notary. I looked up the school and it got some bad reviews, but the reviews were about two years old and all the really negative stuff about this location was posted by one person. Also, this is a private school with both chain and franchise campuses and apparently the franchise locations are where a lot of the bad stuff has gone down. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to suss out if the location I’m looking at is chain or franchise, but obviously I planned to ask. I also planned to ask some hard questions of my interviewer about their foreign teacher retention rates, just to get a sense of whether people are renewing their contracts or getting the hell out of Dodge as soon as their year is up. I got through the work day coasting on three hours sleep and then waited up for my interview. And waited. And waited. No call.
At 3:15am, 45 minutes past the interview time, I called my recruiter and asked what was going on. It turns out there had been a mix up about the time. We’re now rescheduled for an early Monday morning call. In the meantime I will be starting to apply to job postings I find online independently.
Two steps forward, two steps back.
Apart from all that was happening between me, my peeps and the recruiters though, I was experiencing a personal two steps forward and two steps back. After getting off the phone on with the recruiter on Wednesday night, I laid on my bed crying tears of abject terror at the prospect of not getting to have my “last summer” in Toronto and maybe having to take a job on a tight timeline because another one might not present itself too quickly. Suddenly I didn’t want what I’d cried for in earnest just 24 hours prior, simply because it was sent by express rather than surface mail; because I might have to move from the wishing stage to the doing stage faster than I’d anticipated. As a friend put it, sometimes you think that making the plan is the big step, when in fact the big step is actually following through on that plan. I also realized that I felt this irrational resentment that a friend who has a job placement in Korea already had basically gotten the timeline I wanted. She also had the luxury of turning jobs down. Somehow it just didn’t seem fair.
Even though it was an entirely different kettle of fish, somehow I felt as trapped in this potential job situation as I did in my current job situation. Which begs the question, is trapped just my default setting? Is it possible that trapped has nothing to do with actual events but is simply the lens through which I tend to see those events? Today, with the benefit of some distance and sleep, I wonder if I am finding ways to throw up road blocks to change by trying to find all the things wrong with this opportunity–that the timeline isn’t what I’d like, that it might the only job I’m offered–as if these things had any real meaning. A year from now, will it matter that I left Toronto in July rather than August? Likely not. A year from now, will it necessarily matter that I only ever got one job offer rather than ten? Likely not.
During my session with my therapist, I told her that when I feel especially bleak about leaving my job, I visualize it as being held back by a mob of people. She commented that my description sounded like something very internalized. She theorized that apart from events happening outside of me, there might be something coming from within me that’s holding me back from making changes too. At the time, it only kind of made sense to me, because there were tangible events happening that were making me feel afraid that change wasn’t going to happen. But as this potential job offer situation came to a head, her comment made a whole lot of sense. It was clear that I was the only one holding me back in this situation.
Entrapment is a word that’s all about victim-hood and so it removes any sense of empowerment or agency on one’s part to change a situation. When I realize I’m not trapped in my present job–I can quit–and that I’m not trapped into taking a job I don’t want in Korea (if it’s really not a good one), it changes the dynamic drastically. But it also makes me the grown up–the person in charge of these decisions. Not the universe or an angry God or fate. I have a feeling that I’ll shed a lot more tears in the course of this transition and that I’ll have to keep recognizing again and again that I am the captain of this ship, but I’m hoping that I’ll keep coming back to that belief rather than the belief that I am trapped in any way. Because I’m not.
As I said, two steps forward, two steps back.