I have a phone interview tomorrow afternoon for a job that would mean a big change in career track, a major geographic move and a nice salary bump. It’s a job I think I would be excellent at, and one that seems the perfect outlet for my experience and my interests. I have been getting my materials in order and practicing some positive thinking over the last few days, imagining myself in the role, living in the town, changing my entire life. It’s a slippery surface, though, this envisioning, because it’s so easy to do. I’m already there in my head and I have to keep checking myself against pragmatism (it’s only a first interview; most folks go through many many rounds of interviews before landing their “dream” job) so I don’t slide fully into fantasy and end up delusional and potentially devastated if the star I’ve hitched my wagon to sputters out.

But I really, really want this job.

I almost just erased one of those “reallys” because I am, I admit, feeling squirrely and superstitious about voicing my desire too loudly.

Too. I seem to struggle with a lot of “too-ness” in my life. Wanting or expecting too much from people, from myself.  Feeling too much. Or, worrying that I am. Wondering if I am. Constantly checking my desires against pragmatism. What am I entitled to feel? What’s reasonable? What do I deserve?

In grad school, among my best friends, one of us was dubbed by an outsider who had known us for exactly one day as “the serious one,” one “the fun one,” and I “the fragile one.”  Also in grad school, there was a man, a classmate, who we all dubbed “Raw Naked Bob,” because he was the kind of person who told you the intimate details of his life within the first ten minutes of meeting you. I think Bob and I are more alike than I would have admitted back then.

In my life I’ve also been called “sensitive,” “hyper-sensitive,” and, my favorite, “ultra-sensitive.” The first term is a compliment, usually, or at least a simple observation. Poets are sensitive. Mothers are sensitive. It’s good to be sensitive in these ways. But the second two are slights and they always both sting and irritate.  You feel too much. What’s the matter with you?

It’s hard, sometimes, not to wonder. It’s hard not to wish for fewer feelings, for easier detachment, less propensity to fling myself head-long at my desire.

Is it possible to imagine oneself into a new job, a new city, a new life? Is it possible to imagine it too well? I think the answer is probably yes on both counts, and my task (as always) is going to be to find the fulcrum between desire and detachment that keeps me healthy (i.e., not nauseated and filled with anxiety as the interview approaches and passes) while also honoring the whole-heart-open-and-vulnerable quality that has always defined me.

And which, even with the complications it brings, is something I quite like about me.

Maybe I need to reclaim the epithet? Don some fabulous purple tights, my Docs (of course), a bedazzled cape and pair of movie star sunglasses, et voila! It’s Ultra Sheila! Able to impress interviewers, land dream jobs and draw people of all walks into her heart with a sob and a (too) fragile smile… all within ten minutes of knowing her!


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