Adventures in Self-Administered Legitimacy

So. I got the job.

In my last post I mentioned getting a second interview. Then I got a third interview. Then I started to question how dedicated they were to filling this position “as soon as possible” since they had been stringing this process out since before Christmas. Then they offered me the job, and I cleared them of all wrong-doing and now recognize their good taste and sound judgement.

I start next week.

I am beyond excited. I've been under-employed about two-and-a-half years. I finished coding school in Summer 2016, and watched classmate after classmate slide right into actual, grown-up jobs. We all did the same things, applied the same places, had the same skills (roughly). Worked on resumes together. And yet the herd thundered on ahead, while I was left behind.

I picked up part-time freelance work. It was nice to have a marketable skill. The theatre degree I have tucked away in a drawer somewhere wasn't paying the bills. I know I am extremely fortunate to be able to scrape by at all. But I am not good at marketing myself. Looking for freelance work is a full-time job unto itself, let alone actually doing the work. And I found job hunting to be very, very dehumanizing.

It probably was not a coincidence that Fall 2016 blew the doors of my mental health, and I slipped into what I “lovingly” refer to as Depression Year. Being depressed made looking for a job even more taxing, and not having a job made the depression.... etc. etc.

I climbed out of Depression Year in Fall 2017. I had lost ground. My skills were rusty. My network was in tatters. My professional life (and, er, my personal one, too) was a duct tape jalopy. I couldn't look for a job in that state, right? I had to, of course, Fix Everything. I'd look for a job when I was Ready. All I had to do was get Ready. I'd know when I was Ready... right?

Right?

(Speaking of, I am currently waiting to be notified when I am Ready to start writing prose, composing poetry, making a zine, and learning how 401ks work. Any time now. Aaaaaaaany time now.)

I did work, haphazardly over that next year, at preparing myself for another job hunt. I learned new frameworks. I dove enthusiastically into the freelance work I had. I polished my resume. And polished, and polished, and polished. (Still looked the same tho.) I even took a copy-editing gig, to see how I liked it, and how it felt to drift away from the industry I hadn't yet broken in to. (I actually ended up really digging editing, and had this new tech-industry job not worked out, very well might have leaned more heavily into editing. In the future? Maybe!)

I set deadlines for when I'd stop preparing and start applying. But they weren't there to motivate me; they were just another way of saying I don't have to do it now. I'll do it... then. See that deadline? That's when I'll do it. But now? No no no, it's not time yet. See? It's in my calendar, it has to be true.

This fall, I relaunched my 'professional' website. I realized I had that, a portfolio of work, a resume that was as polished a turd as I was going to get, and a fair amount of debt and bills. I had everything I needed. So maybe it was time?

I still couldn't bring myself to Officially look for a job. So I started unofficially looking. Putting in applications, sending resumes as low-stakes practice. Rather than get wrapped up and stressed out, I thought: This is just practice. Doesn't matter to me either way if this goes anywhere, or not. Just stretching out the muscles. I'll do the real work later, when I'm Ready.

Then I saw the posting for the job I just got. And I was mad. This was a job that I really did like, and felt I was uniquely suited for. Why couldn't I find this post when I was Officially looking?? I can't apply for it now, it's not time!

At this point I was very sick of myself. So I applied, mainly to shut myself up.

Funny thing is, they called back.

Amanda Fucking Palmer, one of my idols, talks about waiting to be hit with the Magic Wand of Legitimacy. “You have to hit your own head with your own handmade wand. And you feel stupid doing it,” she says.

THWACK

AFP is right, I feel a little stupid. But not for my self-administered Thwack of Legitimacy. No, for wasting so much time, for avoiding the process as long as I did. For tying so much of my tremulous self-worth into job hunting, and stressing myself out to the point that I was immobilized. I had this wand the whole time. (THE WHOLE TIME?) Maybe it shouldn't have taken me 2+ years to figure this out, but then again, if it had unfolded differently, I wouldn't have the amazing opportunity that I do now.

Either way, I have found my wand. And there as few more things I think I need to thwack myself about.

...

Wait.