I woke up at 12:00 PM and I had a job interview at 1:00. I had planned to wake up much earlier to groom myself and practice answering interview questions, but I ended up hitting snooze for four hours. I may have consciously hit the snooze button multiple times, but the logical decision-making part of my brain remained unconscious until I actually looked at the clock. Realizing I didn’t have that extra time to prepare, I began to panic.
I had a choice to make. I had enough time to either throw on a suit and dangerously drive to my destination, or skip the interview entirely and coddle myself in bed. Since I was already feeling anxious, I convinced myself to choose the latter. I thought that rushing to the interview would only make me even more anxious. If I showed up all disheveled, I probably would not have been too convincing of a job candidate. I also convinced myself that staying in bed equated to self-compassion; something about the maternal warmth of my mattress and comforter communicated love and security to me. Since I was panicking, I stayed in bed and committed to making myself as warm and cozy as humanly possible.
At first I thought about putting on pajamas (I was in my boxers). “Ugh, but the journey to the dresser will be unbearably cold,” I thought. “I will just lie here and try to suffer through it.” On the word ‘suffer,’ I remembered that the reason I was staying in bed in the first place—and not going to the job interview—was because I needed to practice loving myself. I had to love myself enough to go out into the Ice Age and get some warm, fuzzy clothes. I assumed the brave parent role and fought for my inner child; I trudged through that brisky two feet between my bed and dresser and scavenged for some damn PJs. I succeeded and congratulated myself for working hard.
I got back in my bed wearing a hoodie, pajama pants, and thermal socks (I’m also amazed that these exist), and then I re-wrapped myself in my baby-burrito position. My skin began to warm up, but my bones remained frozen. What a disaster. I got what I deserved; instead of taking time to perfect myself for the interview, I put all of my effort into attaining the perfect body temperature, and I was somehow messing that up too.
Here I had a flashback to when I was eight-years old, in a similar state of cold, tired, and anxious. I was lying on my living room couch—wrapped in hella blankets and PJs—when my dad came into the room and put his hand on my forehead. “John, you’re burnin up,” he said. “I think you might have a fever. You need to take those blankets off now.” He went to the kitchen and came back with two full Kirkland water bottles. “Strip down to your boxers. I’m going to put these cold bottles on you to cool you down and break your fever.”
That was the most fucked up thing I had ever heard. Eight-year-old me silently thought something along the lines of, “Why on Earth would I do that? What is the medical basis for this? The blankets and clothes are helping me warm up, isn’t this what I need?” But I didn’t argue with my father; I complied because my young mind was convinced that Dad knew what was best. So I got nearly naked and let him place the cold plastic on my forehead, neck, chest, and armpits.
This was the first time I truly felt the gravity of the phrase “Life is unfair.” I shivered violently and renounced my faith in God. I wouldn’t wish this torture upon my worst enemy. After a few painful minutes, I began to sweat for some reason. “It worked,” my dad said. “Sweating means your fever broke.” At this point, I didn't know whether to be thankful or upset that my Dad ‘saved me’ from something that I didn't know was hurting me. I thought I was doing alright before he came along and ruined my snuggle sesh.
Thanks to the internet, I now know that putting ice cold anything on a person with a fever can make their chills even worse. What my dad did technically wasn’t the ‘right’ thing to do, but I guess it solved my problem. I’m not bitter about the situation, but I think it may have had some impact on how I’ve dealt with problems throughout my life. I became more critical of my own desires; whenever I wanted something that I didn’t consider productive, I’d ask myself, “Do I want this because it’ll make me feel good, or is something else going on that I’m not addressing or realizing?” I relied on other people’s advice and opinions most of the time, because apparently relying on my own intuition nearly got me killed (or at least that’s what my eight-year-old mind rationalized).
Flash forward to my adultish self (twenty-three) lying in bed, trying to sleep through my job interview. The psychoanalytical part of my brain hypothesized that my father had negatively reinforced my capacity to take care of myself. I began to question everything—“How am I supposed to love myself? Am I supposed to provide myself security or ‘Do the Right Thing?’ Am I supposed to be kind to myself or face the world cold and unequipped?”
Are there answers to these questions? Well, only I can be the judge of when I need to either work harder or give myself a break. I have to listen to my intuition sometimes. Do I have a good enough intuition to make the right decisions all the time? Probably not. But I’m never going to learn anything unless I make some of my own decisions. In this story, I actually decided to get out of bed, but not for the job interview. After calming myself down in bed for a bit, I grabbed my guitar and wrote a song. I felt quite relieved.
One could argue that skipping a job interview is inherently a bad idea, but whatever. I was fresh out of college and I already had a part-time job as a private music tutor. I applied for this new job solely because I thought I was supposed to get a full-time job right away; many of my post-graduate peers were either going to grad school or starting their careers. I thought that if I didn’t work full-time like everyone else, they would all think I was a failure. Looking back, I realized that the pressure to please other people made me anxious, not the interview itself. So here I am now, still only a few months out of college, doing things that I enjoy: I’m recording an album with my close friends, scoring a soundtrack for a play, revisiting an old hobby that I’ve abandoned (writing stories), and teaching bright young minds about the wonders of music. I don’t need to work nine-to-five at the moment. I’m alive and happy with the decisions I’m making.