The Sunday Muse, February 7

Swear and Swear Alike.

Well i’ve really ripped some emotional strips off myself these past couple of weeks, so I think i’m going to cut myself a break and keep this week’s Sunday Muse a bit shorter and less introspective.  Which is probably a bit of a relief for all of us! 😉

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that i’m currently on the hunt for a new job – just some part time or temp work to keep things going while i’m building up the freelancing stuff, and also studying at uni.  This has meant the majority of the past week has been spent going to and fro between recruitment agency meetings and job interviews, which has been just a tiny bit exhausting after being mistress of my own rather flexible schedule for so long.

I won’t blame the exhaustion for my performance during one particular interview however.

It was all going so well – the job was a part time job-share arrangement with someone returning from maternity leave, which was absolutely perfect for my situation and requirements.  When I arrived at their offices, I immediately thought that this is somewhere I could feel really comfortable working, and after sitting down to chat with the two poor women tasked with interviewing me, I felt completely at home.

A little too at home, perhaps.

The interview started traditionally enough – talk me through your CV etc etc, tell me about what a typical day at your last job might look like blah blah, what are your strengths and weaknesses and so on and so forth.

It was when we finally got to that question that eveyone, including me, absolutely dreads – “Tell me about a time when you were faced with a challenging situation, when something really went off the rails, and what you did to solve it” – that I sort of sensed even before I opened my mouth that I was in trouble.

The situation that immediately sprang to mind was still very raw, and even though it happened nearly a year ago, I still find it hard to think about.  I won’t go into details here, but suffice to say it was a low point in my career when it came to relations with a colleague…it stung badly at the time, and frankly it still stings today.

Relating this incident, and how I triaged the fallout, went as well as could be expected – I stayed on script.  It was only when I got to the end, however, that I realised just exactly how far i’d flown off the reservation these past few months…the circumspect, career-conscious self censorship that one normally employs in these situations was gone, replaced by a complete lack of interest in playing the polite corporate helpmeet anymore.

So I just told them:

“I fucked up.”

Because I did.  There was no other way to describe it, and I didn’t bother trying.  It was what it was and that was all there was to it.

I’ll be honest…this isn’t normally my style at all, and nor do I expect i’ll be taking up swearing like a sailor at work in future, though i’m sure that on occasion, like any normal person i’ll be sorely tempted.  But it did seem like the most honest and frank way to convey the predicament i’d found myself in, and once it was out of my mouth, I just had to hope they’d see it that way too.  And if they didn’t…well…

I read an article recently about swearing, and how ‘studies suggest’ (love that term) that people who swear more readily tend to be more honest and loyal of character, not to mention more intelligent and with better vocabularies…and while I obviously endorse this view, I did refrain from sending this to them in my defence.  Being HR folk, it would probably not have swayed their view that I was a miscreant in disguise, ready to tear down the fragile fabric of their corporate culture in one giant, profane swipe.

I didn’t get the job (they actually withdrew the job entirely, “to reassess the job share situation” they said) and having had time to reflect on the situation, i’m not sure i’d use exactly that word again…but never say never, right?

I think what i’ve definitely learned from the situation, however, is that i’m not remotely the same person I was a few months ago, and nor will I ever be again – and this applies to my working world just as much as it does to all other areas of my life.  I’ve moved on from feeling as if I need to put on the cloak of another persona, adopt a certain sort of invisibility in the workplace (or anywhere) in order to be accepted, or acceptable.  I don’t feel the need to be anything other than absolutely 100% authentically myself ever again, in anything I do.  And I don’t regret that at all.

Not one fucking bit.

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