About a week and half before graduating last month, I visited an on-campus psychologist to talk about my immense fear of interviews. And yeah, I realize it may have been helpful to do that sometime before May, but I’ll expand upon that in a later post.
We talked for awhile, and she asked me questions to the bottom of the issue. Interestingly enough, the conversation was awfully similar to how interviews typically go for me…which is awful. I tensed up because I didn’t know how to answer her questions correctly, and my eyes began to hyperventilate.
Yeah, you read that right. It’s part of my meticulous formula for freaking out while sitting still. Here’s the trick: when I feel anxious and short of breath, I focus on any body part other than my chest. I often imagine that the air trapped in my lungs is escaping through my eyes, when in fact I’ve averted my focus from the issue and calmed down enough to breathe normally. Try it, and see if it helps! If it doesn’t, don’t judge mmkay?
Anyway, we continued talking and despite the fact that I wasn’t being particularly helpful to her endeavor, she attempted to give me a tip for next time.
“Perhaps it may be helpful to imagine that you’re holding your own hand throughout the interview. You can even do so literally, in–”
Before she had even finished her train of thought, I emitted a dramatic and audible shudder.
“What was that?” she asked.
“I don’t know. It was involuntary,” I said. After some reflection, I added, “I guess picturing myself as a support system wasn’t comforting.”
Red alarms went off in my head as I said those words, and again as I type them now.
The endearing, self-deprecating humor that permeates my writing turns into ruthless, self-critical savagery during an interview.
For the time being, it might be helpful to imagine that Beyonce, Jay, Blue, and the magical twin Geminis are behind you, smiling and cheering you on. But in the long run that’s not realistic. I hate to say it, but the fact of the matter is that most of us will never meet Beyonce–let alone have her divine spirit and good wishes with us in an interview for an entry-level job. At some point, you are going to have to be the comforting image that your mind conjures. Because you’re the only person that you can take into a stressful situation, and the only person that’ll be by your side every day for the rest of your long and fruitful life.
How fun! Can’t wait.
Maybe it doesn’t seem that way right now. I know these words aren’t going to instantly silence that persistent little voice in your head. Like all gratifying and worthwhile things, it’ll take lots of time and concerted effort to become comfortable with yourself. You might not ever get to the yogi level of calm self-assuredness that it takes to not get nervous in an interview, and that’s fine! Interviews are stressful, and being nervous is natural. But make a pledge to start trying. Right now, I’m personally in the habit of imagining a wiser and more-employed version of myself chuckling next to me and saying, “No matter what happens, I’m sure it’ll be pretty funny in retrospect.”
Perhaps not the best sidekick to bring into an important situation, but it’s a start.