It all starts with your current job. The honeymoon phase is decidedly over; you’ve settled comfortably into the professional equivalent of the “yoga pants, no makeup, and Netflix while eating takeout straight out of the container on the couch” phase. Things are…fine? They’re good. The spark is gone. Romance is officially dead. Little issues start to seem bigger. He leaves the seat up and puts dirty dishes in the sink, her clothes are always on the floor and she never takes the trash out. The coworker on the other side of the wall eats reheated fish for lunch, the office is a patriarchy, and nobody ever smiles. Malcontent started to build up, and I started to wonder…is there something better out there for me?
So, thinking about breaking up with my job. When I hit this phase, I was rolling into work 15 minutes later than usual on a consistent basis, spending more time reading Scribd books online than actually doing anything, and getting increasingly negative and generally “mehhhh” on my job in general. I stumbled on this Wit & Delight article in March, in the heart of my discernment process, and it completely hit me in the gut (in the heart?).
So there you have it. I'm convinced I'm breaking up with your job. And it's not like there's not love there - there is, like love for a totally worn-out pair of ballet flats, or that eyeshadow palette from Clinique that I got in like...COLLEGE and really should just throw out. And I started worrying about how to let my job down easy. It's been a good ride...there have been some good times, some bad times, some all-nighters and some trips and some inside jokes. But in my heart of hearts, I knew it had run its course. So I started thinking about how to end it.
On the flip side, I started looking for a new job in the Bay Area. Like the dating world, the game has totally changed via technology. We swipe back and forth on Tinder, we review LinkedIn profiles. We shop for boyfriends on Match.com the way we shop for boyfriend jeans on Madewell.com, and jobs on Indeed.com. My phone, in this phase, was a blizzard of notifications...new matches from Bumble, new recommended jobs from Bay Area companies, texts from recruiters and on-again, off-again men. The sheer variety of choice was intoxicating and intimidating. I worked with a recruiter the way people work with It's Just Lunch or those professional matchmaker sites...presenting myself as effectively as possible, interviewing like people go on first dates. A few a week, in a constant swirl of "So tell me about yourself" and trying to brag without seeming like I'm selling myself.
So more discernment is clearly necessary, for the popular, qualified entrants to the job market (and the popular, well-curated Bumble profiles among us). I started narrowing my criteria down. A guy who lives in Brooklyn Park? Way too far to commute for casual weeknight happy hour. A tech company on the wrong side of the Bay? Nah, traffic would be murder. A 35-year-old divorced dad? Maybe not my wheelhouse. A dinosaur of a bank or insurance company just like my current job? Eh, again, probably not quite the pace I want. Then again, the tattooed Uptown dweller and the itty-bitty tech startup that pays almost entirely in stock options? Yeah, I might not be quite that edgy or cool.
Having winnowed down my desired attributes, the professional dating game began. Coffee or cocktails in the North Loop with a cute finance bro? Sure, why not? An interview with a local arts non-profit in San Fran? What've I got to lose? And then, job lightning struck. A hot, tall, blond, blue-eyed, Eagle Scout dream of a job came across my inbox, and all of a sudden I'm convincing myself it could totally be love. The first conversation was chemistry-laden - saying all the right things, generous benefits packages, the right amount of witty banter and self-promotion, and all of a sudden I'm thinking I have a crush on this job. And I think this job is crushing back. And it's hot and heavy for a few weeks...talks of flying out, discussion of specifics of the role, even flirting with a start date...is it too good to be true?
And, like any hot, tall, blond, blue-eyed fuckboy, yeah, it totally is. I was deemed "too experienced" for the job, in the very final round of interviews when it was down to me and one other candidate. And for a minute I was like...wait, what? Is this a "define the relationship" talk where the dude is all "It's not you, it's me?" And, inevitably, for me, that triggered a total spiral of self-doubt and wondering if this was all a mistake (much like my dating fails have inspired a near-celibate state at this point in life, HA.).
But, much like I've been told it happens in the real world, "it happens when you least expect it," and that's proven true for me in this job hunt-as-dating metaphor. Think of it this way - boy meets girl, offline, in a meet-cute the likes of a Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks movie. It's organic, and serendipitous, and everything seems to be happening almost too easily. When you find that glass-slipper job, much like meeting the perfect guy, it seems almost too good to be true. And now, we're talking about getting real serious. If I wanted to keep the relationship metaphor going, we'd be moving in together, at least. If not talking rings and weddings and babies. But that's a story for another day...