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Oh Crap…and Is The Universe Really Talking to Me?

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“O God! that one might read the book of fate.” ~ William Shakespeare (King Henry IV, Part II)

I revealed in my last post that I recently quit my soul-sucking job.  A few weeks before I gave my notice, I applied for two high-level professional positions that fortune seemed to point in my direction.  One was with a local nonprofit group that does great things in the community, the other with the University of Texas.  I was extremely interested in both positions, and I’d been trying to get a job with UT ever since I moved to Austin over three years ago (the hiring process at UT is extremely competitive).

Both jobs paid significantly less than the salary I was making at the time, but I was so ready to get out of my toxic work situation that I didn’t even care.  I think I would have accepted being paid in chocolate coins if it meant less stress and more meaningful work.

The nonprofit group was the first to reach out, and called me in for an interview.  I ACED it.  I have to admit, I love the feeling you get from a well-oiled job interview!  (My secret tip that I don’t mind passing along to you:  sing “I Have Confidence” from the Sound of Music in your best Maria impersonation at the top of your lungs right before you go into the interview.  Preferably in the privacy of your car.  You’re welcome.)

SoMIHC

Click photo to hear “I Have Confidence” sung by the great Julie Andrews!

It was shortly after that interview that I gave my notice at my then-current job (a very UNunhappy moment by the way).  A day or two later, the UT office at which I’d applied called me to schedule a phone interview.  I was ecstatic!  It was the first UT job I’d applied for (of many) which had reached the interview stage.  And, the job seemed to be literally written just for me: they wanted someone who had lived and worked in sub-Saharan Africa (thank you Peace Corps), spoke a foreign language (oui, moi), and had experience advising students (I used to work as an advisor at the University of NM).

Keep Calm and Speak French

The UT phone interview went great, and they then scheduled a second interview for a few days later, to be conducted via Skype.  Everything meshed and it went swimmingly well.  I made funny quips and asked well-researched questions.  I’d done my homework and I was prepared – as I have been my whole life.  Organized, detailed, prepared – that’s me.

I was feeling great!  I was in the running for two jobs in what seemed to be a perfect timing situation!  I’d finally quit my miserable job that was driving me into the ground, and I was headed for happier times!  I drove by the UT office near campus and it was in a beautiful setting; I was already imagining working there and figuring out where I’d park.

The day of the Skype interview with UT, the nonprofit group called me to offer me their job.  However, they told me that between the time of my interview and now, they’d decided to change the job title and some of the duties of the position I’d applied for; it was still a good job, but it was no longer what I thought it was going to be.  It now wasn’t as attractive to me as the UT job – which by this time I was 99% sure I was going to get.

Notice those words “perfect” and “sure” above?  Not-so-subtle foreshadowing.  By now you can probably guess what happened.

I declined the nonprofit job offer.  And then UT emailed me a few days later to say they decided to hire someone else.

What have I done!?

I think I stared at that email for about ten minutes in pure disbelief.  “Oh Crap” is a tame version of my reaction.  My perfect interviews and my perfect preparation and my perfect planning all crumbled away into nothingness as I sat there.  I started to feel the fear rise up from a pit deep inside me – what had I done?

In the following days, I searched for the bigger message in this ego-busting development.  I looked for the answer in many different forms of chocolate, but nothing materialized (except lots of calories).  I even blamed the huge Texas flag hanging on my wall that was visible in the background of my Skype interview camera view; I took that flag to the 2010 Tour de France and Lance Armstrong autographed it for me right in the middle of the white star…maybe they saw that and held it against me, another casualty of the cycling doping controversy?

This wasn’t the way things were supposed to happen.  Or was it?  Where was Shakespeare’s quoted book of fate when you needed it?  Of course I wanted to know why this detour had forced me to take another direction, but then I started to think that maybe what I needed to focus on was not the “why,” but the new direction in and of itself. 

You see, before I’d applied to either of those jobs or quit my current job, I’d been thinking of and toying with the idea of doing something completely different with my life.  Ditching the traditional 40-hour office landscape for a much different one that I’d been thinking of for many, many years.  One that is vastly more colorful and joyful and meaningful.  I applied for those two jobs out of interest, yes, but also out of fear.  Fear that my other visions and hopes and ideas weren’t good enough somehow. 

Bleeding Hearts

But now here I was at the literal crossroads of fear and fortitude.  Inextricably intertwined.  Giving into one could mean sacrificing the other.  And even though I would have been very good in either of those jobs that I applied for had I gotten them, I feel somehow that the universe was, just maybe (even though it’s pretty busy with all the supernovas and collapsing stars and whatnot) whispering in my ear,  “It’s not the right time for that.”   And so I decided to listen.  And I’m ok with the way things turned out.

As I finished the last few days at my job, I felt strangely calm – this, despite not having a perfect plan in place for my next steps.  Or maybe because of the lack of a perfect plan.  Or maybe it was just blissfully-ignorant shock, but it was nice.  And I felt a sense of freedom – not just from the weight of the job stress being lifted off my shoulders, but also from the blank slate being presented to me.  (But I hate the feeling of chalk on my hands, so I’m going to think of it as a blank whiteboard.)

Yes, I’ve had a few moments of self-doubt…I think it would be strange if I hadn’t.  I have to keep reminding myself that we get this one life, this one chance in a fleetingly short blip on the universal timeline of history to do what makes us feel alive and worthy and content – to do what makes us UNunhappy

Is the universe talking to you?  What is it saying?  And does it have an accent? Enquiring minds want to know.   

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

Commence operation UNunhappy!

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“Charm ache with air, and agony with words.” ~William Shakespeare (Much Ado About Nothing)

Welcome to the kickoff of my new blog, operation UNunhappy!  Thanks for taking the time to visit.

I started the operation UNunhappy blog to document my mid-life crisis attempts to reset, rediscover, and re-purpose my measly little existence.  I’m on a mission to de-perfection-ize my life (since my penchant for perfectionism has nearly driven me insane).  Join me for a real, honest account of the ups and downs in my trek toward UNunhappy – a term I coined to define the byproduct of life that so many of us are searching for.

So what does being UNunhappy mean I’m not exactly sure yet, but I intend to try to find out.  I’m all too familiar with its antithesis, unhappiness: for a long time now, I have definitely been unhappy with most aspects of my life:  my work, my health, my relationships with others, my future pathways.  I’ve gone through some pretty tough times in the past few years – who hasn’t, right?  A potent mixture of divorce, deception, grief, loss, soul-sucking work, and adverse life events pretty much knocked the proverbial wind out of me.  Of course it hasn’t been all bad, there have been some good times too.  But I believe it has to be possible to find and experience – on a regular basis – contentment, ease, satisfaction, humor, fulfillment, love, and a sense of PEACE in our lives; and so I’ve started a new journey to balance my daily existence with these vital aspects of UNunhappiness.  Will it be all peonies and puppy dog tails?  Of course not (although I hope to literally have both of those things in my life on regular basis in the near future).  I believe that no one can or should be deliriously bubbly and happy every minute of every day (and I’m pretty suspicious of those that appear so)…without struggle and hardship, it would be pretty difficult to appropriately appreciate the good times, right?

So thanks for indulging me and taking a few minutes out of your day to observe, follow, and advise me in my chronicles.  This blog is just a baby right now; it’ll grow up and expand as time goes on, so thanks for your patience.  I’ve already taken some huge risks and made big changes in my life just within the past few weeks that have pushed me over the starting line.  I hope you’ll stay tuned to learn about them and see what happens…maybe I’ll crash and burn (hope not), maybe I’ll end up trekking to Mount Kilimanjaro (nope), or maybe I’ll just live each day as it comes and try my best not to Scrooge it all up.  Yeah, that sounds good.

À la prochaine!

Ant Kristi

(P.S.: Click on the “About Me” tab in the Menu for the lowdown on why I’ve been dubbed Ant and not Aunt, plus more info about yours truly.)

(P.S.S.: If you’re so inclined, kindly please sign up in the column to the right/below to follow my blog and get email notifications of new postings.  Also, follow me on Twitter at @AntKristi for uncensored rantings, ravings and all sorts of general meanderings.  Merci!)

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