When I was about to enter my 20s, someone very, very close to me went away forever. My strategy for self-distraction was to send applications to all the job openings in my feed (I know — what a way to distract myself, right? But then logic wasn’t my strongest trait during those months).
One of the companies that accepted me is apparently (I found out much later) consistently voted in the top 5 of the best employers in the country. Great culture, generous educational and medical plans, leisure trips abroad for the entire family, bonuses (32nd month pay, anyone?) and so on. During the application period, I had to undergo so many rigorous tests and panel interviews. I remember not feeling any tinge of nervousness, anxiety or exhaustion the entire time — I wasn’t feeling anything at that time, period.
Numbed by my grief, I went through the entire process with a clarity, focus and calm that I have never experienced before. Asked to write some sample copies, I ended up creating an entire campaign plus a publish-ready brochure one afternoon in their office. Afterwards, the vice president asked me to head a certain department in their business.
Obviously, I ended up not accepting the offer (I was young, in mourning and completely clueless about adulting). The VP, incredulous, first started with a counter-offer which eventually led to a rant about how I’m throwing a perfect opportunity away.
The person who said yes to the position actually became my friend — we bonded so much during the long application period. Some years later, she found me on social media. She’s still with the company up to now. From time to time, I get updates about her really impressive life and career. She got promoted; she’s in Paris for a conference; she’s having a house blessing; her first grandchild had a party. I look at these updates with keen interest. The job consultancy firm who recommended her to the company was right after all — she’s the perfect match for the job.
I think of that life — the one where I chose to accept the job offer — as one of my many parallel lives; one of the many I didn’t choose. My guess is I wouldn’t have been able to stay for long anyway in that company, but then again I’ll never really know what kind of path it would have taken me. To borrow from Dear Sugar, that life was the ship that didn’t carry me; there’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.