Usually there’s a weird time right after you graduate college; a time of a little poverty and joblessness. Suddenly you find yourself in this new life-stage and you need to find a job ASAP. It’s a tough time, because you’re feeling incredibly unsure of yourself, but at the same time, you have to go door-to-door selling yourself like you have it all together.

At this time in my life, I got a call back for a second interview at a company that produces radio programs. It was a cool job and a cool company, and this second interview was a meeting with several department heads at 9AM on the other side of town. Knowing that I needed a little caffeine to really be “on” in this interview, I ran into the nearest coffee shop and purchased 20 ounces of black tea. And I chugged it, knowing there was only ten minutes to metabolize the beverage, and allow the caffeinated goodness to course through my veins.

Racing the clock to arrive punctually, I quickly re-applied a smart shade of lipstick, adjusted my pencil skirt, and made sure my intentionally haphazard up-do appeared unintentional enough. (This was also a time in my life where I only owned 1 ½ job interview-appropriate outfits, but knew you had to waltz into these things acting like you have 20 more professional looks in your color-sorted walk-in closet at home.)

Then it happened.

Apparently, it’s NOT a good idea to chug strong black tea on an empty stomach. I was about to be late for my committee job interview, and instead of holding my head up high and cat-walking into the office foyer, I was bent over behind my car, vomiting up all 20 ounces of that dreaded liquid. My stance was as distanced as possible, but I still felt a few warm splatters hitting the top of my stilettos.

Damage control: I took a few deep breaths. “Did anybody see that?” was my first vain thought. I opened the trunk and grabbed an old shirt to wipe the juices from my chin and my feet. I re-applied that smart shade of lipstick, and scoured the center consul to find a lone stick of spearmint gum. With 2 minutes to go, I took one last deep breath and took that elevator ride up, praying for the Lord’s good graces, and that I wouldn’t puke again during the interview.

I didn’t get the job, but not because of the puking; they gave it to some one with more experience. But I actually gave an exceptional interview. The private humiliation I experienced in the parking lot gave me this sort of calm, nothing-left-to-lose feeling. I sat across a conference room table from 8 scrutinizers and felt no fear. I had the room laughing and conversing comfortably after a few minutes.

The next job interview I got was at at a cable network. I got that job. I learned to stop fearing that these potential employers would find out my dirty secret of not having it all together, and just started talking like a fellow-human in interviews. Sure, there’s was some “selling” to do, but what I was selling was something real–a girl who is teachable, hard-working, and on occasion, will “vomit” in the metaphorical parking lot of life. But when that happens, thank God, there is always that stick of gum waiting.


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