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This past week has been a culmination of the toughest years of my life. I came face to face with myself in a way that petrified me. I turned down an offer I have been waiting for, something I had been working on relentlessly for the past four years if not more. It was literally going to set me up for life or for as long as I needed it to. I have consistently put everything on the line in my life to achieve this goal. I have lost friends, colleagues, promising jobs, social status, potential relationships, money, security, comfort, food and at some point even spent a few nights at a thousand star hotel. I spent sleepless nights hoping and praying that one day all the hard work and sacrifice will pay off. That one day I will wake up smiling knowing that I had achieved my goal.
But when the offer arrived I hesitated.
I was surprised by my reaction because I thought this was exactly what I wanted. Most of my friends including myself thought this was a great opportunity. A once in a lifetime offer and after all I’d been through – I’d be very stupid not to take it. Even though it looked like everything I wanted – I didn’t feel right about it. And this was the hardest thing for me to understand. I wasn’t jumping for joy, smiling from ear to ear or even feeling vaguely excited. I felt drained, tired.
So What Happened?
My first thought was fear. I am obviously afraid of the unknown. Then I thought maybe it’s self-sabotage, why would someone like me who had nothing going for her look a gift horse in the mouth. In fact my recruiter said I’d be the most sought after person in the industry if I took this job. Why after working so hard for all these years would I say no? I started to think about this famous poem by Marianne Williamson:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
But thinking about this poem didn’t help me. How does this work? I couldn’t decide if what I feared the most was taking the job or rejecting it? I couldn’t believe that I was hesitant. Why is this happening to me? I had listed all the pros and cons and this had more pros than any job offer I’ve had in my life so far. Although it was not exactly what I was hoping for it still had the potential to become that, after a year or two maybe.
I Put My Heart on The line
I thought about why I wanted this job, I thought about the path and everything I had gone through to get it. I thought about all the times I sent in my application and it was rejected over and over and over again. I thought about a lot of hurtful things that happened in the process, bad things I did, the things they said I lacked from the very beginning. The man behind the phone told me repeatedly that he only wanted the best in the business. And he doubted that I was it. I said I understood. I went through a series of interviews and whatever confidence I had in myself at the beginning was eroded with each step. So that when I finally received an email with an offer I cried, I couldn’t believe they still wanted to hire me after all of that or that I still wanted the job regardless. Instead of being triumphant that I made it, I felt sad. I decided to ignore my feelings and proceed with the prerequisite paperwork anyway. After it was completed and I was ready to start working I was told the offer had been rescinded. They had found someone else but they promised to keep me in their database should new posts open up. After almost a year of negotiations they had found my replacement, just like that. I was just getting used to the idea that it was over when three weeks later they offered me the same post again. Instead of asking questions I thought it best to say yes before they changed their minds. I wanted this right?
But at what cost?
I was not their first choice. I was only the cheapest and most available option. I compromised myself throughout the negotiations. Everything I asked for was denied and I felt compelled to accept their offer as is and they were still not satisfied with me, they were actively looking for someone better. I couldn’t deny the truth. This was not my HELL YEAH!! And my future partner was barely tolerating me. Even if everything checked out on paper.
There was no love there.
I was settling. For far too long, I was ready and willing to give up my time, effort, love and everything for people who were not sure they wanted me in the first place, people who were ready to drop me without a moments’ notice at the sight of someone or something much better. I was at a crossroads, I could accept something which was not quite what I wanted for the upteenth time or take my chances in the free open market for something I did want, unconditionally. So I took the opportunity to do something I should have done a long, long, long, loooong time ago many times over. I said no. Thank you for the offer. I have put everything on the line for this and it’s too big a risk for a, maybe.
Needless to say, I have never been more terrified in my life.