Forget Diamond in the Rough, I’m Shining in a Dark Cave

(Fair warning: Rant Session Up Ahead)

You know those lovely people who pass judgement upon you without taking the time to really know you? Those people who criticize and make rude comments in passing that they would be ashamed of, if they actually knew what they were saying? I really cannot stand those people.

Today, I met one of those people. Today, I was asked if I had seen every film that was nominated for an Oscar, and I of course said no. Who has time for that unless films are your profession? (Well, besides this guy, apparently). I had seen a couple, though, I added.  He then asked me why I hadn’t gone to see the rest of them. Well, I told him, I simply don’t have the time or money. I can’t afford to go to the movie theater and see that many movies. He asked me how I was spending my time if I wasn’t watching these films. I told him I was doing homework. He laughed and said, very skeptically, “yeah, okay. I’ll accept that at face value.”

Well, excuse me, sir, but–since you clearly are unaware–I am a full-time student, have two jobs, am in the middle of looking for full-time work, am studying abroad over spring break, helping my brother and sister-in-law move, maintain my own personal writing (and blog), and–oh, yeah, almost forgot–I have a 3.9 GPA. Sorry I don’t have time to go watch every single Oscar-nominated film (believe me, I would love to do just that!) but I’ve never met a single person who gained success by sitting on their butts watching the big screen all day. (Well, maybe Roger Ebert, but unless you want to start paying me to watch films so I can quit one of my other jobs, it ain’t gonna happen.)

I would have liked to tell him all of that, right then and there, but if I’ve learned something in this life, it’s that in those type of situations, it doesn’t matter what you retaliate with. People do not want to admit that they were wrong, and they will fight you tooth and nail until they feel that they have actually proven their point, even if it was completely false to begin with.

Still, I decided I to turn this into a learning moment. It took me a few hours to brainstorm through the anger and hurt to find something useful in this clueless person’s words, but I think I finally found it:

In life, no matter what we do, no matter what we say, no matter how awesome or not-awesome we are, judgments will be passed upon our characters by our peers.  Many times this judgment will be grounded in very little knowledge of our actual selves; many times this judgment will be passed on nothing more than a first impression. Tragic.

Even more tragic, this is the type of human interaction that often decides which candidates get what jobs. It’s difficult to convey exactly who you are, or how dedicated you are to your work, simply from one brief interview, or one sheet of paper. You will hear people say that they can tell a good candidate from a bad one before an interview is even over; I think this is a flawed way of thinking.

Take me, for example: I am a well-spoken writer (though who knows what I’ll think of this blog post in the morning), and with paper and a little bit of time, I could make a three-day-old, dirty hot dog sound good. But put me in front of a person I’ve never met before and add the pressure of trying to impress? I stutter and stumble over my words; I can’t get my mouth to move as fast as my thoughts, or I can’t get my thoughts to move as fast as my mouth. If I can find a way to relax I am fine–I never have trouble leading a group, making conversation, or meeting new people. It’s only when that little voice in the back of my head says, “Make a good impression! Make a good impression!,” that I begin to sweat the small stuff and spit my words like a broken faucet.

This makes interviews very difficult for me, and I practice a lot to make myself better at them. I practice thinking through my thoughts and words, and I practice talking about my strengths (like I did in the paragraph above!) because I always feel terribly cocky mentioning anything remotely nice about my personal talents. Still, it’s unfortunate because I often feel that, given the time and a chance to demonstrate my abilities, I could impress every employer who has ever interviewed me.

This is the plight of the human race, though.  We have to learn to make “Wow!” first impressions; to reveal ourselves as completely and competently as possible in only a few short words.  We’ve limited human interaction because we simply don’t have time. There are too many people in the world, too many applicants, not enough minutes in the day to meet every person we come across and really, truly get to know them.

So, while I wish there was a better way to search through applicants, I do not disavow the interview. I work hard to prepare for it as much as anything else that I do, then I go and I give it my best. And, if I do not get a job offer, I look at the bright side: this interview was not a rejection of me, as a person–as a human being.  This denial of employment is more a rejection towards the persona that came across in the interview, and not about the true me.

And so this is what I have to remember when I run into people like “Oscar-man” (as I am now going to call him): he doesn’t know the real me. I can find no true insult in his words, because they were not truly directed towards me. They were directed at his assumption of me. And that assumption was oh so wrong.

Because I’ve been feeling it a bit, lately, too, I just wanted to let you know that You are worth it. You are worth every bit of work towards accomplishing your goals. Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. If someone passes you up, take comfort in the fact that you don’t really want to work for someone who doesn’t see your true potential, anyways.  Be your own personal cheerleader, support yourself in your endeavors, and those that matter will follow. And who knows? Maybe somewhere down the road you’ll have the chance to show all of your “Oscar-man”s exactly what you’re made of, and they’ll finally understand who you are.


Yours truly,




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