Don't Count Your Exercise Clothes Before They're Hatched

Note regarding Google Friends Connect:  As of March 1,  Google Friends Connect will be discontinued for any non-Blogger blogs, which includes mine.  What does this means for YOU?  If you “follow” my blog using that feature, you will no longer be able to do so.  I encourage you to subscribe either with RSS feed or via email.  You can find both options just to the right on the sidebar.  (Click on the orange icon for RSS feed or the green envelope icon for email subscriptions.)  Alternately, you can subscribe to the feed by clicking on “Entries RSS” under “Administrative Stuff” further down the sidebar.  Please email me if you have questions or need help!

Just typing that title makes me sigh heavily.  I’ve had some unexpected excitement in my life recently and the outcome, which I will share with you here, is equally unexpected.

I’ll cut to the chase:  On whim I applied for a job.  I got an interview.  I wanted the job.  I waited anxiously and stressfully to hear back.  I got the call and the news is, basically, nothing yet.  They are holding out for someone with more experience but haven’t rejected me.

Now, because you know I have it in me, the long story, for anyone who cares to know more.

Once upon a time I had a career.  In Human Resources.  Then I had kids.  And I was lucky enough to be able to balance the two by working part-time.  But, after 10 years with the same company, I decided to stay home full-time with my boys.  That was almost 15 years ago.

Mostly, I was happy.  Fulfilled enough with being a mom.  Volunteering at the school; spending years as a Cub Scout Leader; taxiing my boys around town until they were old enough to drive themselves; finding “projects” to keep myself occupied.

But, gradually, that’s changed.  And my nest is empty.  Which I love.  But I’m bored.

Off and on in the past few years I’ve thought about going back to work.

But I’ve had a million reasons (or excuses) not to.  (I have bad feet and can’t wear “dress” shoes.  My husband and I want to travel and I won’t have flexible or enough vacation time.  It will interfere with my workouts.  My memory is so bad that I won’t be able to learn whatever I need to learn.  Yada, yada, yada.)  And I hear Oprah’s voice in my head telling me to find my passion.  So I wondered what work I could do that would be more than just a job, but something I enjoyed, something I looked forward to when I woke up each day, something that fulfilled me in some way.  If I was going to change my life (and, yes, disrupt my routine,) I wanted it to be for something more than “just a job to fill the hours and bring in a few bucks.”

I actually came close to accepting two different HR positions in the past few years.  But each time I was scared.  And not sure I wanted to do the job.  And questioning myself about my outdated knowledge and skills.  And about all sorts of things.  Clearly either the timing or the opportunities or something were just not right.

Fast forward to last fall.  I was in a store, splurging on new exercise pants (for my spa trip), chatting with a friendly salesperson, noticing that she was wearing workout clothes.  And I left the store thinking to myself, “This might be a fun place to work.”  Just like that, the spark was lit.  I got online and, coincidentally, the store had an opening for a salesperson.  But, my feet were cold.  Or the timing wasn’t right.  Whatever, I did nothing.  Sometime later I checked again and the position was no longer posted.  Off and on for the past few months I thought about it.  A bit.  And wondered if I wished I’d pulled the trigger or was relieved that I hadn’t.

And then, a week ago Friday, I got a (standard marketing) email from the company, announcing a sale.  I went to the site, but rather than looking for something to buy, I clicked on the career page.  And, lo and behold, will wonders never cease, there was once again a job opening posted.

Was this fate?

I applied online, hesitantly attaching my resume that had nothing to say about work experience in the past 15 years or connected to retail, answering the questions about why I wanted to work there and how I defined customer service, and including a quickly drafted cover letter.  Pressed “submit.”  Went about my day.  No expectations.

Within hours I had heard back.  (The manager later told me it is unusual that she even sees an application that quickly.)  She wanted to meet me!  We chatted as we set a time and I felt good.  I liked her.  I thought we connected.  I felt excitement.  Tingly.

And I spent my weekend in eager anticipation.  Imagining myself already working at the store.  And stocking up on their brand of workout attire, required to wear on the job.  I thought about telling my sons, who think my life is as boring as it is, but who always ask, “What’s new with you” when we talk.  I drafted my Facebook status update in my head.  I thought about how I’d balance a job with blogging.  I even had a blog post title in mind for when I shared my news with you all!   And what healthy snacks/meals I’d pack with me for longer shifts.  I was picturing myself and my future.  I could see myself at work.  I liked what I saw.

I felt good.  Not nervous.  Yet.  It felt right.  I was excited.

I don’t know what it is about this particular job.  But there’s something.  The spark had grown.  It was glimmering.  Shining.  I felt something unidentifiable and indescribable.  I need to think about it more.  But I liked it.  And it felt… right.  And unlike anything I’d felt in a very long time.

The day before the interview I called an old friend to ask her to be one of my references.  And, surprise!  Turns out she knows the person who would be interviewing me!  Kismet?  Was it meant to be?  How could I not get the job now:)

I don’t believe in fate.  I don’t really believe that I could jinx myself.  But, just in case, I did NOT try on my exercise pants from that store in anticipation of wearing them my first day of work!  Okay, I admit it, I DID take them out of the drawer and put them on top of my dresser.  But that was all.

By the time the interview rolled around I had worked myself up into a small case of nerves.  And had a big case of diarrhea of the mouth.  But I walked out after and felt good.  I liked them – the manager and the assistant manager.  I thought they liked me.  It still felt right.  For about an hour or so.  Then the self-doubt kicked in.  And kept on kicking.

As I walked out, the manager said she’d probably call me “tomorrow.”  I waited.  No call.  I waited the next day.  No call.  By then I had talked myself out of the job.  I had gone over all the stupid things I’d said during the interview.  I was sure I’d scared them off.  I felt regret.  And stress.  And disappointment.  And stress.  I still didn’t try on my pants.

Finally, Thursday, the phone rang.  It was the manager.  She was very nice.  Let me down easy.  Told me that she hadn’t made a decision yet and was holding out for someone with current retail experience.  I said something about understanding and that I hoped I was still in the running if she didn’t find anyone.  And I added something, I have no idea what, about wanting the job.  My husband says I did a good job.  Said all the right things.  My mind is a bit of a blur.  I had rehearsed in my head my eager acceptance.  I had rehearsed my disappointed reaction to being told I didn’t get the job and a follow-up to ask for feedback as to why not.  I had NOT thought to rehearse for this particular indeterminate scenario.

The good news is that I’m not stressed anymore:)  The other good news is that I wasn’t rejected.  I can wait.  And I can take advantage of the next couple of weeks spent waiting to drop those last few pounds so that when I get that job with its clothing discount, and have to buy all sorts of things to wear to work, I’ll be having fun in the dressing room:)  I’m not excited anymore.  But I’d still take the job if they offer.  I’m a bit drained by it all.  And someday, maybe soon and maybe not, I’ll reflect on this whole experience and ask myself what it tells me, what I should do next, and what I want to be when I grow up.

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64 Comments

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64 responses to “Don't Count Your Exercise Clothes Before They're Hatched

  1. That’s really exciting Karen – also good practice for the next one that comes up. Also, they may interview others and decide that your passion outweighs someone else’s (more) retail experience.

    Perhaps something else in a similar place will come up (AND you could offer to do an online blog for them!!!!).

    My fingers are still crossed about this job though!

    Deb

    • In all my rambling I forgot to mention that I know they had at least one other interview before mine. Wonder if that person is still in the running too:( Thanks for the great positive spin.

  2. Good luck with finding *your* job!

    There are two things I have always wanted to do, and at the “ripe” age of 29, I am actually doing both (kind of). I wanted to be a translator, which is my current way of bringing home money, and I still love it – even though I work at a ridiculously crazy office (example: Boss, “I don’t like the way you write the dates.” Me, “That’s international standard, understood in every country.” Boss, “Yeah, but change it – it looks as if time was running backwards.” WTF??). The other one is becoming a successfully published author, for which I have been working for two years now, sending short stories to publishers (seven or eight have been picked up by now) and working on my second novel. I love doing both, and though I kind of doubt that I will become rich this way, it’s still a great way to spend my time, and I really don’t regret doing it this way.

    If you love doing something, do it. For the rest of your life.

  3. Tish

    I’ve got my fingers crossed for you. How exciting! Did you mention that you write a health and fitness blog? A really good blog, and are followed by lots of people? If not, call her back and tell her and give her the URL because that might push her over the edge (in a good way.). Good luck and keep us posted. We’re pulling for you.

    • Actually, I did briefly mention that in the online application. It asked something about explaining how I exemplify the fit lifestyle or something. I am, after all, their target clientele:) But I’d hesitate to say more because I’m not sure I want to be any less anonymous than I am. Yet.

  4. Miz

    ooh I like what tish said too. cant ever hurt~ 🙂

    and I love the “I can wait” thought as well.
    nothing causes things/stuffs/whatevers NOT to happen more than a sense of panicked urgency and desperation.
    I know 🙂

    xoxo

    • Through this whole process I was thinking how nice it was to NOT feel any desperation. To not feel like I did years ago trying to get that first job in HR. When I wanted to say all the right things and just get my foot in the door. This time, while I “wanted” the job, I wanted it on my terms and only if they wanted me too:)

  5. I’m keeping my mouth shut on this one cause I’m so in the minority!! Unless I was forced to for financial reasons, there’s no way I’d ever return to the workforce despite having had a wonderful career that I loved! But the flexibility and lack of job-related stress (like Diandra talked about) is way too precious to give up. Besides, I can’t figure out now how I ever had time to work!! LOL! We should develop a partnership planning blogger meetups across the country!!

    But on the other hand, if this is truly what you want, I hope it works out and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if you are the one they come back to once they realize you WANT that specific job and not just ANY job to make money!

    • Those were two of my reason, excuse, for not going back to work. The flexibility part is HUGE. Now that the boys are gone and since my husband doesn’t work, we could, in theory, pick up and go somewhere on whim:) Not that we have, of course. But we could! One thing I like about this job is that the manager does try to work around people’s needs for time off.

      And the stress… well… that’s why I don’t think I’d go back to HR. But other than the initial learning stuff, I’m thinking this wouldn’t be stressful:)

      But I’d shuck any real job to go with that business plan with you, Sharon!

  6. KarenJ

    With the job market so tight, companies can hold out for just the type of experience they’re looking for. So frustrating that a retail job is so difficult to get. I’ve been working a more than full time job since 2009 in inside sales, and it drains the life out of me and leaves me no time to pursue my passion which is weight loss coaching. I’ve applied for several jobs, but don’t even get to the interview stage. I’m a “Jill of all Trades,” and that doesn’t cut it in this job market. Good luck to you and sounds like you still have a shot at it.

    • I’m just hoping that no one applies in a timely fashion and she finally realizes she just needs someone already! And that she could have me hired and trained before the more experienced person walks through the door. Fingers crossed.

      And I wish you the best in your own search. And your passion is a pretty cool one:)

  7. I’m annoyed for you! Here they had a wonderful, friendly person who really wants this job and they are waiting. I hope that you get it because you obviously feel good about the company and really would enjoy working there. Honestly, I worked retail for years and it’s a pretty small learning curve – especially for someone who is engaged and excited.

    • I did point out that I worked at a women’s clothing store through high school. That was decades ago, yes, but at least I am not coming in with blinders about what to expect. Of course back then rather than computers to ring up sales, we wrote them out by hand on carboned paper and then just rang the payment into an old machine!

  8. I’ve been an empty nest mom for a few years now and would have the same jitters and anxiety and excitement about getting back into the “work force.” I’d have the same reservations. I don’t know that I would have written about it all as well as you did here though. I could feel it right along with you. Good luck. I firmly believe things work out the way they should – you’ll get the job or something better. They’d be lucky to have you.

    • Thanks for the kind and supportive words:) Did you get what I got – people asking “What are you going to do now that the kids are gone” and “Will you go back to work once the boys are in college” and the like?

  9. Ooh- how exciting! No matter what happens, you WENT FOR IT. After 15 years, that says a lot!

    Fingers (and toes!) crossed!

  10. Ewa

    I am keeping my fingers crossed. This is such a tight market, no wonder companies are choosy and feel they can make people like you wait.
    I am at the similar stage in life you are. My teen needs me less and less even though we are homeschooling. There are not many jobs out there (like none) for moms who decided to devote all those years to their families.
    Good luck. I am glad you are not stressing out too much. I am…

    • I’d like to thing that we were keeping up with some sort of skill set as stay-at-home moms! I am sure you are with homeschooling. I know I had many volunteer projects and other projects that required a lot of skills that could be used in an office job. But I’m sadly lacking in the technical (like computer software) stuff:( You can spend your free time hiking!

  11. I identify with the not wanting to disrupt your routine/have a job to fill in a few hours and bring in a few extra bucks thing…which is why I haven’t had a permanent part-time job in a couple years now. I did do seasonal retail for the last two years and while I enjoyed it, it DID interrupt my routine! Plus retail is hard on your feet. But learning it? No problem. They are silly to wait for someone with more experience – but I’m guessing that the manager is a bit younger and probably doesn’t understand the wealth of experience that you actually have. Good on you for releasing the stress of it; amazing how something that you don’t HAVE to have can get you so crazy, right?

    And now a favor. On the Google friends connect thing (which I guess used to simply be “followers” on the blog?), does that mean that our follower numbers will drop on March 1st? Not that I care about the numbers, but I hate to think that people couldn’t find me if they wanted to…so should I have an RSS button on my blog? I am so untechnical on the social media side it’s not even funny, but I don’t want to make it harder than it has to be for my readers. Can you take a look at my blog and advise me on what I should have showing for people to read? (I follow most of my blogs through google reader) Thanks!

    • So get this – the manager is probably my age! As are most of the staff! How unique for a store, yes? I did worry about my feet and my back with standing a lot. At least I would get to wear my most supportive shoes – my workout shoes. Since I would dress in exercise clothe:) How perfect would that be!? I’m thinking maybe the manager didn’t have a great experience training someone in the past, maybe…

      Google thin – you have a Blogger blog so I’m thinking it won’t impact yours at all. Maybe. It’s all rather unclear. The blogger who I found out about it all from is worried it will impact (non-Blogger) RSS feeds in Google reader but I don’t get that same sense from what I’ve read. You have a “subscribe to posts” link at the bottom of your blog that serves the same function as the orange button. And, for those in the know, they can actually add ANY blog to Google reader even without a link or button. But it took me over a year to figure that out. (Maybe someone had to even explain it to me.) So I think you will be fine. That said, it never hurts to have an RSS orange button visible on your blog; makes it easy for people who know to look for that.

  12. Thanks for sharing. All of my kids are in school full time this year and I too have feelings of, can I do more, do I have time, etc. Good things are in store for you, just keep putting yourself out there.

    • When my kids were young like yours, I was busy with all sorts of volunteer stuff, mostly connected to their lives and their school. I actually met my former workout/diet buddy while working in the school cafeteria! I liked being around the school and having an idea of what was going on. It was nice for teachers to see me there too, I think, and know I was involved. But the older the kids get, the less stuff there is to be done on that personal level at the schools.

  13. Interesting post and interesting subject. I am guessing something will come up and soon for you. You may discover a passion, but again, you may discover what you are dong currently is enough. Have you ever thought about volunteering at something you are interested in on a regular basis?

    • Yes. I have actually looked online several times at various sites that list volunteer opportunities. I am picky. And I want to find something that I like as well as giving back. I know that makes me sound less altruistic than I should, if I am volunteering, but right now my thinking really is on not just finding something to do but finding something that fulfills me in some way. I’ll keep looking. For the volunteer opportunity and maybe the paying kind as well. Still comes down to “what am I interested in?”

  14. I hope you get the job! It would be fun to have you as a sales person if I shopping for exercise clothes!

  15. Wow. How exciting for you! I hope you get the news that you want soon.
    Lori

  16. I love that you did that! I love that you found something you were passionate about and you went for it. Way cool!

  17. I am SO routing for you! You know what’s interesting? It was a job in retail (when I was in my early 40s) that was a sort of turning point for me. I mean, it wasn’t the job itself (working at a brand new Borders book store), but it’s where I happened to be at the time. Anyway, I am psyched for you!

    • So get this… a few years ago when I was thinking about going back to work, I thought maybe I’d like to work in a book store! I do love to read. I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but here, it is very tough to get those jobs, very competitive. I think people want them because you get benefits for even part-time jobs. Which was a draw for me too, honestly. BTW – our Borders stores have all closed:(

  18. Hells bells, this isn’t rocket science! You can be trained very easily enough! harumphf!! That said, if it’s meant to be, it will. If not, it takes you one step closer to the truly perfect job for you. If they aren’t wise enough to know what a gem you’d be, who would want to work for someone that stupid? 😉

    :: hugs ::

    • LOL – you are so sweet:) I told my husband I’d take the job if I get offered it even though I know now I am not their first choice. But, I think I’d like them and they’d like me, once they gave me a chance. And, I agree, come one, how hard could it be to train me in this!

  19. Roz@weightingfor50

    That is exciting Karen. My husband is looking for work now, and has NOTHING but respect for people that call and explain to them why he didn’t get a certain job. Sounds like it was an excellent experience, and I have all faith that you’ll find a passion, and will SOAR!!! Have a great Monday.

    • Ironically, in my early years in HR I was the person on the other side of this. The interviewer. It was a big organization, unlike this small store, but we never called personally. Before I got that job I actually got rejected for another one and the person called me and explained why and I so appreciated that. It is a very rare thing. BTW – if they do finally reject me, I get an email or letter, not a phone call.

  20. If you really want the job, consider calling her back and asking her to give you a try. She can continue to look, but in the meantime if you prove yourself an asset, she might just decide to keep you.

    Your son was right when he said “What WILL you ever do without little ol’ me here?”

    If you are still casting about for opportunity you could tryout different volunteer positions. That way you can travel when you want to and Christmas time is yours. In retail that is not so. Ever.

    • I’ve thought about volunteer stuff and looked online off and on for opportunities. Nothing has interested me yet.

      I was talking with my husband just yesterday and said that if they had me for a “trial period” I’d be so stressed I probably wouldn’t be able to function! If this wasn’t a store, but a manager with an email address, I’d send her a note reiterating all my great points:)

      • Well Karen, Look at it this way, whenever you are hired anywhere you are always under a trial period. Seriously. AND once the person is in there and all getty alongy with the other folks and doing a good job – you know what – they stay. IF you want this particular something, you may have to stick your neck out a little. The absolute worst thing is if they say no. And they may. Their loss. But, what if they say “OK” and you do well? What if you end up liking it. What if you end up with a pile of workout clothes and calf to sweat them up in?

        You go, you pitch her your best, but brief “You will be thrilled to have me as an employee or I will go away friendly” story and have hunnykins sitting outside with a nice creamy latte waiting for you. He will either hug you in congrats for going for what you want or hug you for getting the job (in which case he might also be looking for your billfold since you will be the breadwinner). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

        Sincerely Pushyberry

  21. Karen, “knowing” you by your blog, such a big step for you & so exciting & proud!!! I can’t see why they need anyone but you! 🙂 I hear you on the scary stuff part of this – I know that well!

    Like you, I want to work somewhere that feels right & excites me & not make the mistakes I had done in the past. I think it helps but not sure I can hold out for that….

    They better call you back or else I will come a calling! 😉

  22. They are fools if they don’t hire you!!!!! Anyone can learn to run the new fangled cash register, but to have someone like you who can talk about exercise and health and the clothes with excitement and enthusiasm and make people feel welcomed and good, is priceless!!!!!!

    And I love your beautiful eyes over that first card.

    • Thanks, Teresa:) I admit to putting on a bit of mascara out of vanity. But don’t tell!

      And, modesty aside, I think you are right and I am even their target customer, for Pete’s sake!

  23. I do hope you get the job Karen! If not, at least it was good practice for you. I have done some hoiliday help retail in the past and enjoyed some of it.

    We were in REI over the weekend talking to one of the sales people who was helping us to find things. She is a social worker during the week and they let her work just one day a week on the weekends. She said it helps her with all the extra time on her hands since having an empty nest. Hubby and I later talked about how great that would be to work there just a day or two a week, enjoy the people and get a discount on our REI favorites. Our store employees many people of retirement age who are of course very active folks.

    If this job isn’t the right one, I am sure something else will turn up. 🙂

  24. Oh how exciting! I really do hope you get that job. If you don’t, there will be another job out there meant for you. Sometimes things work out like that. We are disappointed by some missed opportunities, and in the end they turn out to be blessings because they led us to other good things.

    Fingers crossed though! 😀

    • That’s why at some point, when the dust settles, I know I should reflect on this. And consider what I can learn from it… and if I am ready to be more proactive in looking for something else.

  25. Oh, fingers crossed (or should it be thumbs?)! If not this job, maybe another one, now that the spark has been sparked. As someone who interviews people, I must say that *wanting* the job is so important. So many people come across as if they’d really rather be doing somethin (or nothing) else!

    • Funny:)

      And I would think the same… that they would appreciate that I WANT the job. I did try to say that when she called. I would have done the same in the interview but it ended quite abruptly because the manager had to get on a conference call:(

  26. Boy howdy Karen you sure can spin a yarn 🙂

    I hope you get the job. I’m sure your enthusiasm came across both in the interview and over the phone. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you and sending all my good vibes your way!!

  27. Wishing you the very best of luck Karen xx (or you could have my day job for me instead??)

  28. Jan

    They would be nuts not to hire you! “Current retail” experience is meaningless unless the person is outstanding in many ways beyond what you have to offer. (Sounds like the manager is a tad inexperienced.)

    I’m proud of you for making a push to try something very different. I’m inspired!

  29. Hi Karen! Well, you know from being in human resources that the exact reasoning for not hiring a certain person might not have anything to do with faults of that person. A lot of it regards the whim of the person hiring.

    And, a long time ago, I was told that a grocery store didn’t want me to work there because I was overly educated for that position. If they know about your previous work experience, the person hiring might think that the job won’t keep you interested enough to stay working there for a long time.

    🙂 Marion

    • Yes, I did worry about that when I was applying. That they’d think I’d not like it or get bored or prefer to go back to my old field. But this is what I want now. Hopefully I got that across.

  30. What exciting news!!! I often urge my mom to take on something completely out of her comfort zone since she’s been pretty bored being in an empty nest! Crossing my fingers for you Karen!

  31. That’s so exciting! I think the best thing is that you are truly excited about the job and to work in their store. I agree with others to talk about your blog with the store, social media is big in marketing right now.

    I’m applying for jobs too right now, so I can totally understand the self-doubt, I was feeling that all weekend.

  32. That’s very exciting! I remember when I was looking for jobs over a year ago it was pretty nerve wracking. We are very blessed that we are able to take the time to find a job that we really like and will be happy with. What’s meant to be will happen. If this door is closed to you than another door will be opened! Good luck!

  33. In my experience it is amazing to get 2 interviews AND a callback with explaination.

    Also in my exerience, most employers want young workers – even though they are flaky and inexpereinced. Sorry if I sound negative – just want to say that you have to just keep at them with your enthusiasm and with reasons why you should be hired.

    Like Marion said, you have to get them beyond their own unspoken prejudices and fears. That you can work well with older customers and, with having college kids, you get the younger crowd, too.

    Whatever happens with this one – just keep your eye out and eventually the right thing will happen.

  34. I hope you get it! 🙂

  35. Awesome, awesome post! I’ve been pondering the same – wondering what I’d like to be “when I grow up”!! 🙂 Other than a grandma, I’m not sure!
    You’re inspiring me! I’m not the only one who gets scared!
    Dawn

  36. Oh Karen- I am so excited and proud of you! I am crossing my fingers, toes and eyeballs for you!! 🙂

    You are my role model in this part of the journey for me. I am in the bored stage. Molly is still in school- but I am beginning to think about “what is next for me”? I am glad I will have your wisdom and experience as my time approaches to make the hard, nerve wracking decisions!

    I can’t wait to see where your journey takes you next!!!

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