Enough of Hopefulness

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Enough of planning, optimal thinking and expecting the best.

It all leads to disappointment, I think.

My friend Chris is a die-hard optimist.

We are friends in misery.

With busy lives, we go weeks or months without a good visit. But, when her sons are arguing or her job is not working out or her husband is making her unhappy, she turns to me. And, when heartbreak is upon me, Chris will always listen, and understand.

Her catchphrase is, “It will all work out,” as she relates tale after sorry tale; “It will be okay,” as she listens to my tales of woe.

I have teased her that we should carve on her gravestone, “It finally all worked out”.

I have taken her by the shoulders and asked, “When?? You tell me when has it ever all worked out?!”

My sister Brenda is the most positive person I know.

She’s a strong believer in the power of thought and visualization.

She believes in always looking at the bright side.

When I am wasting too much time on self-pity and need a good pep talk, Brenda is the one I call. When I’m afraid of a challenge and want to hear words of encouragement, I always know Brenda has them. I have to be selective, though.

I once phoned her, heart-broken and sobbing over a break-up.

“Aren’t you glad that happened?”, she asked, “Better now than after you invested any more time…”

“I’ve gotta go,” I whimpered, “I’ve got to call Chris.”

Personally, I lean toward pessimism.

I prefer to be prepared.

I like to keep the “worst-case scenario” always in my mind.

The very worst rarely happens, so it’s a pleasant surprise when the outcome is something less than total disaster.

I think this attitude has kept me smiling through years of disappointment.

Recently, though, I let my guard down.

A job opening became available here: Director of the Beaver Island District Library.

I felt like I was born for that job. From my love of reading and writing to my knowledge of books and my lifelong haunting of libraries and bookstores…from my education in literature and the fine arts to my grant-writing ability and my work with children at the school…to my public relations skills and my generally smiling demeanor and my desire to please…it was the perfect job for me.

It would also be a life changer. With a pay scale of double what I’ve ever made annually, and quadruple what I am earning now, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities.

My social security would be pumped up, so that it might eventually be enough to live on. That would move my retirement up to six to ten years from now…rather than at death, as I had originally planned. It would allow me to make repairs and replacements that have otherwise been impossible…to pay down my mortgage…to, for once in my life, not have to worry about every cent.

Others encouraged me.

I allowed myself to dream.

It felt like every decision good and bad that I had made in life to this point had led me to this place.

It felt like validation…as if the universe was telling me I was worthy of good things.

I poured my heart and soul into it.

Though I’ve written dozens of resumes and cover letters before, I read three new books on the process. I spent two long nights fine-tuning my submission before sending it off to daughters and sisters to approve and make suggestions. I lost another night’s sleep when I realized – too late – that a misspelled word had gotten past all of us.

There was a long wait before the library board went through the submissions.

I researched libraries – small libraries in particular – to learn about organization, funding and management. I took notes; I asked questions. I filled page after page with ideas.

I made it through the first and second cut, and was scheduled for an interview.

My hopes soared.

“Don’t even think that it won’t happen,” I told myself.

Picture it. Believe it.

But be prepared for the interview.

I tackled sample questions over the telephone with my sister.

I continued gathering ideas.

I planned a library blog…Garrison Keillor-esque, Books in Northport-like, non political, newsy and fun. I wrote the first three submissions in my head.

By this time I had more than thirty pages of notes and ideas. I read them and re-read them so that I could speak from knowledge, not by rote.

I tried on every single thing I planned to wear, to make sure there was not a speck of hardware paint or restaurant grease anywhere.

I made an appointment to get my hair cut. Brenda advised me against it, remembering me throwing the brush at the mirror over bad hair when we were kids. We agreed, it could be a confidence builder or a confidence killer, depending on how it turned out. I opted to get the new hair-do, and it turned out well.

I got up at four A.M. on Friday, to prepare for my nine o’clock interview.

I ate a light, high-protein breakfast early.

Took the dogs for a short walk.

Visualized success. Thought only positive thoughts.

Went over my notes, once again, before going to the interview.

I maybe talked a little too much at times, and stammered over a couple questions, but I felt good about it.

Brenda and I talked that night as if I already had the job. I planned kind letters to the other interviewees, and letters of thanks to all who had encouraged me.

I did not get the position.

The news was delivered halfway through my lunch shift at the Shamrock yesterday. As the news hit the social media sites, people came in to tell me, or to ask if I’d heard. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying not to cry in public. When they’d try to hug me or say, “Sorry,” I had to warn them away. Too much kindness would break down my guard, and I would fall apart.

I did that when I got home. I cried so much that my jaw aches and my cheeks are chapped. I have a headache that is probably the result of dehydration from shedding too many tears. That doesn’t often happen.

It feels unfair, but the entire process was more than fair.

It feels like I was cheated, but that’s not the case, either.

The problem is not in the result.

The problem is that I was not prepared for it.

Jack Kerouac said, “Accept loss forever.” That’s good advice.

I’m done with hopefulness.

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30 responses »

  1. I am so sorry Cindy I was fully rooting for you and know you would of been great for the job.. I keep thinking something will come along for you and it will I just know it keep BELIEVING!!!!

    • Mary, thanks so much for your kindness; I know your daughter applied for the job as well. I’m thinking this was about my last chance for something good…but I am where I want to be, and surrounded by wonderful, thoughtful people. I am blessed, no matter what.

      • Cindy I read your enough of happiness.I cryed because everything you wrote was from your heart and so very true.As your friend I hate to say it but I,am not as posivetive any more kid.I now pray that you and I will be ok.Will always love you as my dear friend,and will always be hear for you.At my age I knew my life wouldn,t be great but never thought it would be so hard.I never wanted to be rich but was hopeing to live confortable.But like you It,s not in the cards.Will be on the Island ,sometime this summer,we need to get together.Love Your Friend forever Chris Butler

      • Oh, Chris, of course you and I will be OK. We have proven, over the years – you, especially – that we get stronger when things get harder. But, whether “things will all work out for the best”? I doubt it.
        It’s lovely to hear from you, dear friend. Thank you for reading, and for your kind thoughts. I can’t wait to see you and have a good visit!

  2. Just wanted to comment to say that I “liked” this post because it was written so well, with ups and downs and I was rooting for you when I don’t even know you!

    I didn’t like that you didn’t get the job. That… is heart-breaking.

    • It is heartbreaking, Gina, but I will survive. The process was all very fair and above board…it just wasn’t the outcome I wanted. Thank you for reading, and for your kind words!

    • I thought it so much, I still have to check myself mid-thought, as I’m still making plans for when I take the position! I feel I’m getting too old for most good opportunities here. I’m truly not giving up…I’m just lowering my expectations. Thanks for reading, Marie, and for your kind words.

  3. Sorry to hear of your disappointment. Something you can always find light in is that you have friends like Chris and a sister like Brenda.
    They are the true treasures in life.

    • Thank you, Annie, for your kind words. I think it’s time to face the fact that at sixty years old, my options for greatly improving my situation are very limited. I felt like this was my last big chance. I won’t give up on dreaming, but I think I’ll keep my safety net of envisioning and preparing for the worst. Thank you for reading, and for your comment!

  4. Oh, Cindy, I was right with you all through reading this. I know what that’s like. Oh, if only you could have convinced them! Even though I knew your post was drawing toward the conclusion that your perfect job — yes, I’m positive that it was — went to someone else, I (who also like to be prepared for the worst, so as not to be disappointed) was holding onto the hope that through some magical twist, you had gotten the job, and you were just toying with us. I am so sorry, my friend. I can think of some things to say, but none of them will help right now. Just know you have lots of love and support.

    • Kate, it seems like you always know the right things to say. Thank you for hoping along with me, and for sharing my disappointment. I should have prepared myself better for the ending is all. But I will be okay. Thank you for reading, and for your kindness.

  5. What a drag! I really want you to be able to retire before you die. I think it makes a difference on how you approach opportunities like this. You did everything right. You are qualified, you prepared yourself for the interview, and you went into the interview with a positive attitude. The fact that you didn’t get the job is terribly disappointing, but you know you did your best. I know it’s not much consolation but your experience with this job interview and the way you approached it made you a better person and most likely had an impression on other people.

    I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way you would have liked, but be proud for putting yourself out there. I’m rooting for you!

    • Thanks, Sara…I was hoping I’d make you smile when I referenced our conversation about retiring at death. It’s a big disappointment on many levels. In addition to thirty plus pages of library notes, I had a whole list of home improvements I was going to make with the added income. I just believed too much in the possibility to avoid a big letdown. If I hadn’t done everything I possibly could, I would always have wondered. Thanks for reading, Sara, and for your comments!

    • I like the idea that things happen for a reason, and that something better is out there. However, at sixty years old, I’ve been telling myself that story through too many disappointments to be able to put much stock in it anymore. Thank you for reading, Punky, and for your kind words of support!

  6. Oh Cindy, you took me on a trip here – with your wonderful friendship with Brenda and then on through the job preparation, so open and honest, so human.
    And then the ending got me – not the bit about getting the job, “I’m done with hopefulness.” – please don’t! We need hope, that maybe Spring will come or maybe that invoice you sent will get paid in time, and on.
    Sending you a huge warm hug, and I just hope all the hugs that are being sent don’t make you cry again x

    • I’m looking forward to Spring. I can’t wait to get my hands in the dirt and watch things grow. I haven’t given up hope in that sense…but I will stop counting so intently on an outcome that is beyond my control. Thank you for reading, and for your kind words, and for the hug! It helps!

  7. Aww, so sorry this didn’t work out for you. It is heart-wrenching. And gut-wrenching. I hope that you feel cheered as spring warms up and know that many people (even those of us who haven’t even met you in person!) care about you.

    • It has been a huge disappointment, sure, but I’ll be fine. I have lots of experience at handling defeat. Which sounds bitter and sarcastic, but actually is really true, and a good thing. I fall apart, but then I pull myself together. Thank you for your kindness and support…I know you were rooting for me!

  8. I have to believe that all your preparation for what didn’t materialize will somehow benefit you in another way. Lean into it – you still have a terrific friend and you got a great haircut out of the process.

  9. Of all things. That is a realy bummer. Yes and you know what? You are better qualified for the job. In my opinion. Your luck sounds like my luck. Not too good lots of the time. But sometimes things are really good and I am surprised by it all. You will be too, in life as well, in the near future. These are my best positive thoughts for you going all the way to the Beaver Island.

    • Thank you very much! That’s what I’m doing…trying to be positive and content. It would have changed my life so much…and I was counting on it so much…that for a couple days it was hard to even move. It still hurts, but I know I’ll survive. That’s what you and I have in common. Things may not go as we’d like, but we are survivors! Thanks for reading, Yvonne, and for your good thoughts!

  10. Oh no, Cindy. I am so sorry you didn’t get this job. It does sound like something you would have enjoyed–and done so well. Times like this can feel so heart-breaking. Glad you have a friend that understands, as well as a sister that encourages. Sometimes we need both in our lives, as you pointed out. And the wisdom to know which one we need to listen to at which time.

    • Yes, it does feel awful. The job seemed so perfect for me, I was sure I was also perfect for the job. Almost. It was down to two applicants, and I lost by one vote. Believing that any negativity might turn the humours against my success, I didn’t have a single thought in my head that I might fail. I’d been envisioning myself in that roll for so many weeks, and was so sure I had it, I was absolutely stunned and devastated when it didn’t go the way I wanted. I still have to check my thoughts, for I wake up thinking of how to solve potential library issues. They will remember this, I hope, when I’m still dragging a waitress tray around at age ninety! Thanks for reading, Kathy!

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