Diary Entry by Chi Kalu
I walked out of that interview relieved, sweating in a fully air-conditioned room but hoping for the best. This was the second interview after countless job applications that year, so I nearly fell off my chair when I was shortlisted and invited to an interview. I read every piece there is on the internet about preparing for interviews, I researched the company, reviewed my notes and tried (actually struggled) to get some sleep. I needed this job. I would see smartly dressed commuters heading to work in the train and I wished endlessly to get my foot in the workforce. Moreover, the bills weren’t going away so this was a big deal.
A week later I got the unwanted email “… you did marvellous etc…but unfortunately you were unsuccessful at this time…” I’ve heard that before I thought, well on to the next.
Of course I was crestfallen but I tried to cheer up and say sweet nothings to myself. In the shower, as I drove the kids to school and continued with my routines, I repeatedly reminded myself that I’ve got what it takes and will secure a job in no time. The wasted applications and everything else seemed to scream otherwise. A month later, from out of the blue I got another call from the employer. A position became vacant following my interview and the rest is history.
That was ten years ago and two jobs later, it’s amazing to think that I still fidget and sweat over issues. Yes, I feel blessed and previous hurdles are not lost on me but soon as I leap over them, they are forgotten and I humanly begin to fuss over the next hurdle.
I may no longer sweat at interviews, but now I juggle the demands of a working mum, a full time career, a thriving marriage and social engagements. I return home each day to sort through an avalanche of school notes, homework and permission slips, fix dinner and plan lunch for the next day, follow up emails, possibly some grocery shopping or study, find some time to snuggle up to the significant other, if I haven’t passed out on the couch already. It sounds somewhat daunting but I get through it and so do many women that I know. One thing we fail to do though is to give ourselves a well deserved pat on the back sometimes or even accept such commendation when it is given. There is nothing immodest about feeling accomplished or at least believing that we did our best.
Recently, I heard former Premier Anna Bligh speaking about her new book “Through the Wall: Reflections on Leadership, Love and Survival”. I was amazed to hear that she was even remotely disappointed about one of her popular speeches. You may remember her choking up whilst encouraging Queenslanders after the 2011 floods that ” We are Queenslanders ….the people they breed tough north of the border”.
To me and possibly every other Queensland resident at that emotional time, those words were the most moving and empathetic words from a leader, making it an iconic moment of her career but yes, she thought she blew it. Her book tells of more battles fought and won. She was the first woman to be elected Premier of an Australian State in her own right and I believe there are many more firsts in her future.
The lesson here is that Anna thought she messed up like most women do. We seem to carry the weight of our families and the world on our shoulders, we are carers, multi-taskers and nurturers of everyone but ourselves on some occasions. In reality we are all achievers, often stronger than we think. We just need to learn to fight our battles as they come and be very kind to ourselves. Sometimes we win, or we may lose but most times we get by, stay afloat, and that’s all that matters.
Guest Post by Chi Kalu
Lawyer and Creative Writer at Straight Up