hire meI sit across the table from my interviewer. I really want this job. It is five minutes from my house and seems to have a lot of opportunities, though vague:

1. The company has a seriously cool photo studio. Maybe I will learn how to direct a photo shoot.

2. The new role would be to work with Fortune 100 companies on their marketing campaigns. Maybe my work will get national exposure.

3. There are awesomely creative people here. Maybe I will get to brainstorm and have Mad Men moments where I write taglines that launch household names.

But that’s not the job I’m interviewing for.

The title is account executive. It’s the same title I have at my current job, just without a painful commute. I currently die a slow death everyday sitting in traffic on Irving Road for 22 miles each way. In the two and a half years I have been at my job, I never stopped looking for my next one. I never got comfortable. I never ordered business cards. I never decorated my office.

My interviewer asks a question. It is jarring. I don’t know the answer.

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What’s your end goal?”

I haven’t even thought past right now. I just want to stop the bleed. I have goals, but what are they for the sake of this job? My answer involves the words, “creative director”. It’s a truth I have never said out loud, except in my early 20’s when I didn’t know what a creative director did. From the way the interviewer’s shoulders begin to slump, I can tell this is not the right answer. I dance around saying how “I like to wear a lot of hats. I like to be part of a creative team”. The energy continues its downward shift. I leave hopeful that it’s one of those interviews that is actually so great, it only seems terrible.

But beyond this interview, this job, this day, I am now face to face with my truth. My real desire. I do not want to continue shuffling papers and figures and clients. I want to go back to my creative roots. I have been so busy trying to get out, I didn’t even think of what I was moving toward. Why hadn’t I considered this question before? How long have I been lost?

With this question, I now have direction. I continue to accept every interview. I like practicing and also the clarity that comes when I try on new conference rooms, new potential managers and new job descriptions. I decline second interviews when I know the fit isn’t right.

And then a job opportunity comes right before Christmas. I do not want it. But I go. In fact, I have interviewed at this company before. I wanted it then. But now, I am only browsing. I dress up but I wear robin’s egg blue nail polish with flecks of glitter and black. I wait for them to notice and wince. Or ask why my nails are blue. They do neither of these.

Question after question. A manager. Another manager. A potential coworker. A bigger manager. Then the owner. I am sequestered in a conference room for three hours. And by then, I begin seeing things much differently. This company. These people. This exact role. I start to want this job. I realize that we are made for each other.

The owner clears out the room. It’s just the two of us.

He offers me the job. We shake hands. It feels very Mad Men. I think we will write tag lines soon. And we will surely launch big things.

I tour the office. I see where I will be sitting. I sign the papers. I finally leave and walk to my car with tears in my eyes. There is now an expiration for my terrible commute. And my new role is “designer”. Again. It is the same title from the years I loved the most- working at an agency with other creative people. But this time, I’ll have this title with more knowledge and appreciation for what it means.

Today, I can say that I have never felt so competent and confident in a job as I do in this one. I got everything I hoped for- a fun collaborative creative team, room for growth, responsibility and all the perks of a company that really values its employees. And ALSO, they have a meditation room. And free massages. And free Diet Coke.

My desk has three photos and a decorative lamp.

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