There are worse things in life than botching a writing test or job interview, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it when you’re going through it.
I decided a few months ago that it was the right time for me to go back to work after staying home with my son for a little more than a year. I started to feel like I was doing my son Donovan a disservice by not having him in daycare, not to mention that my husband and I were having a hard time keeping up with the little one.
We needed help.
So when the founder of a media company here in Atlanta reached out to me for an interview, I felt like I’d been given a lifeline.
The timing was perfect. My husband was completing the end of a five-month stretch of work-related road assignments, so he was home more to help with Donovan. I had scoped out a couple of daycares with openings, and I felt emotionally ready to start spending some time away from Donovan.
I read everything I could find online about the company, and everything about it screamed it was the perfect match for me. It is a black-owned company with a focus on telling positive and eye-opening stories about people of color.
I made it confidently through most of the screening processes, but then I found out there was a writing test.
I immediately felt deflated. I’d been down this road before, and it seldom ended well.
Tests have always been barriers to access for me. One test in elementary school determined the kind of high schools that would accept me. One test in high school determined if I would be able to afford college, and often, one test in applying for a job determined if I could even be considered for that job.
I usually seemed to fall a couple points short of the score I needed.
But surely this test would be different. It had to be. I’ve been a reporter more than seven years covering everything from shootings and fires to school board meetings and zoning decisions. What could this company possibly throw at me that I hadn’t seen?
Plus, this wasn’t exactly a standardized test. This was a writing test, and I’m a writer.
I could do that.
So on the morning of the test, I woke up early to play with Donovan for an hour. Then, I got to work on an assignment I had three hours to complete.
Well, I would have had three hours, but I missed a pretty essential email that somehow made its way to my spam folder.
My stomach dropped, and I felt myself getting short of breath.
I ran with the baby from our office to the master bedroom and told my husband I needed him to take Donovan.
He asked me to put the baby in his crib for a second, and I immediately did so. I even remembered to give Donovan a couple of his favorite toys to keep him quiet and entertained.
I ran back to the office and went straight to my laptop.
Not wanting the boss to know my misstep, I quickly responded to her email:
“Sorry, I forgot to respond, but will do.”
I had just managed to fight the panic to start the story, when my husband came in with Donovan.
“Say goodbye to mommy,” my sweet spouse said.
Lord knows I wanted to shout:
“Not now! Not now!”
Instead, I waved and said:
“Bye bye baby. Mommy loves you.”
Then, I quickly redirected my focus to the task at hand.
More than once, I had to will myself out of crying. I wanted to email the boss that I just couldn’t do it, but I made a deal with myself.
Turn in something rather than nothing. Do my absolute best. Then, let go, and let God.
Well, not only did I end up keeping my deal with myself, I got the job, and I was proud of myself in a different kind of way.
I allowed myself to be imperfect. I pushed through my anxiety, and I gave myself grace to make mistakes.
Only the people who know me best know how big of an accomplishment that truly is.