I guess it started when they demoted me to customer service.
It wasn’t exactly the career trajectory I envisioned for myself. Fresh out of college, an industrial engineering degree in tow, I landed a job at a pretty well-known company. Let’s call them The Big Ketchup Company.
A few weeks into the job, a couple of billionaires bought The Big Ketchup Company and completely gutted the business, inside and out.
I was young and cheap, so instead of firing me, they sent me to the customer service department.
Again, I had a degree in industrial engineering. I guess the new bosses forgot to check their notes.
Anyway, tired of being pushed around, I wanted a change of scenery. So I applied to a different company. Let’s call them The Big Medicine Company.
I did all the proper things. I put together a resume with all of my relevant work experience (sans the customer service stint). I made sure to highlight the metrics I achieved, the numbers I hit, and the business jargon I mastered.
You know how it goes, it’s all smoke and mirrors. And bullet points — got to have the bullet points.
That was all it took. The Big Medicine Company liked what they saw and gave me a job. A job that lasted until 2017, when I decided I wanted more out of life than a stuffy cubicle job.
All of this is to say, that was the last time I ever needed a resume.
That is until this past week when I did something I never thought I would do again in my life: I applied for a job. A real job, with real benefits, and a real application.
Yes, me. The 9-to-5 escapee. The anti-cubicle guy. I saw a job and I applied. Gasp.
But it wasn’t just any job. It was my dream job. And even if I don’t get it (you never know, I might have a chance), I rekindled in myself the confidence to go after a long-lost dream.
The Old Dream
Deep down, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. But I’ve always been a little too scared to actually go after being a writer.
So when I stumbled across a writing job (I won’t get any more specific than that) that was absolutely ideal for me, it got me thinking: do I have what it takes to do this?
At first, I let the imposter syndrome take over. I’m not qualified enough. Who’ll take care of the kids? I probably won’t be good at it. So I showed the job to my wife.
“I guess if things were different,” I said.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Like if I wasn’t already committed to being a stay-at-home dad and homeschooling the kids then maybe I would consider applying.”
She looked at me and paused before saying, “Well, what’s best for the kids might not be best for the family.” My wife is not a writer. She’s a pharmacist. But every once in a while she says something like that and I fall in love with her all over again.
“But I don’t have a proper writing resume,” I responded.
“Time to get to work then.”
Reconciling the Little Wins
With only a few days remaining before the job application window closed, I sat down and reconciled the past decade of my writing “career.”
Whether I was working in Corporate America or being a stay-at-home dad, I’ve always written on the side. I just didn’t realize how much I had done over ten years.
Google search after Google search, I delved into my little trove of internet creations, things I had forgotten about, things that took me back to those early days when I wrote for an audience of one.
I collected all my Little Wins. Like the one time when I guest posted on Jeff Goins’ blog. Or all the times I’ve submitted (and was accepted) into Medium’s biggest publications.
I haven’t achieved internet-level fame, not by a long shot, but putting together a resume from scratch showed me that the Little Wins do add up.
Suddenly my confidence outpaced my imposter syndrome. I can do this, I thought to myself. My confidence was never lost, it’s been there the entire time, buried under mounds of excuses.
(Side note: gentlemen, get yourself a wife who’ll call out your bullshit.)
So I applied. Cover letter, resume, and a small collection of writing samples. Four pages in all. I pressed “Send” on the submission and something in me changed.
For once I believed — like, actually believed — in myself.
Far from over
I woke up Monday morning and just started writing as I do (most mornings).
However, this Monday was different. This Monday I had conviction, purpose, and determination.
We spend — no, waste — so much time thinking we’re not good enough to go after our dreams. As we grow older, excuses become cemented, engrained even, as truths. As opportunities pass by, we automatically shout out our rehearsed laundry list of reasons why we can’t pursue them.
But what if you, like me, put a list together of the Little Wins? What if you ignored the imposter syndrome and examined the results of a year’s worth of hard work? Would you see yourself in a different light?
I don’t know if I’ll get the job, but that’s not even the point anymore. I found permission to validate my dreams. All because of one little job application.
I’ve written millions of words over the past decade, yet I still feel as if I’m just starting out. I know I have to muck it out. I know I have a tough job ahead of stringing together various writing gigs.
But in the wise words of the sexy creature I call my wife, “Time to get to work then.”