Nine pm. The sun is still shining over Dublin, fooling all of us into thinking it’s still early enough. A multitude of perfectly pedicured feet clad in sandals or flip flops tread the shiny marble of the shopping centre floor. I am overwhelmed by the racks of clothes around me. I need something to catch my eye. I need something to fit. Something I can mix with other skirts, trousers and tops in my wardrobe. Would this be suitable for the interview? And this top, it’s perfect for Croatia next week.
I am horrified by the merciless lights and mirrors in fitting rooms. They are emphasising everything, the redness, imperfections, the excess weight. It’s warm and stuffy as I put the skirt on. Good, I can button it up. The top… cannot get it past my boobs.
My inner calculator scans the size, the price, the purpose. Yes or no. It feels like a continuation of the psychological profile test I took this afternoon. I had to go through sixty sets of five statements, choose the level of agreement/disagreement for each and then rank the said set of statements based on how applicable they are to me.
By the thirtieth set I lost the will to live. “I like to be around people.” “I determine the way I do things.” “I want to get to the highest position in the company.” “I like change.” “I lead the conversation.” On and on it went.
How should I rank these seemingly unrelated statements? What will it reveal about me? Will I be classified as a “loner”, and not enough of a team player? Or maybe I am not independent enough? I can only assume that leading the conversation, persuading, influencing, are desirable treats, especially for a team lead role. But to lead is also to listen, to allow to be swayed sometimes, if the arguments are supporting different opinion.
Should I be honest and say that I in fact do not feel comfortable negotiating? That my attention to detail isn’t always up to scratch?
By the time I went through the entire questionnaire, I felt exhausted and numb.
“Everything that’s happening: interviews, current work demands, trying to make plans when everything is up in the air, all this will only increase your resilience. It gets easier,” my soon to be ex boss told me. In my head I am screaming; I want this to stop already! Just like Ahmet in Selimovic’s “Fortress”, I want to be able to take a breather.
I could look at the water in tranquility, without thinking. All was flowing, softly, with a murmur. Everything: thought, memory, and life itself, at peace. I was at ease, almost happy. For hours I’d gaze into the clear water, letting its small dense waves flow over my hand, caressing me, as though they were a living thing. And this was all I desired, all I wanted.
Next week, in Croatia, I might be able to do just that.