Yesterday morning I was lying in bed, thinking about how my day was going to go. I knew I would call the union sometime in morning to find out what my rank was, or if I had made the list at all.
I fail a lot, and like a normal human I dread failing at what I want. I don’t think I’ve really pushed myself to something I really want for a long time, so anticipation has mostly revolved around applying for jobs or contract work, which is like a tiny little crest I think about for a week and then is forgotten as soon as I get the next job. I admit I’ve been pretty dispassionate or dreading getting jobs throughout my tech career, so it’s felt more like, “I need a job but I’m probably not going to like it.”
The last time I think I super major failed in a way that would cause or deny another big fork in the road was applying for admission to the PhD program in my graduate school. I really wanted to go on in graduate studies, first in art history, but then I veered off into the more “practical” librarianship. It did save me financially when the girls were little and I was always employed at something I was decent at. I wonder now if I would have felt more passionate or tried to seriously build a career if I hadn’t been ill–I started really going down the tubes during library school.
So I was thinking about going through the two or three days of the PhD interview process and how I was feeling then. I wanted to be accepted, to be told I was good enough. If I had been accepted I would have gone. I remember being worried after the interviews and knowing in my gut that the time wasn’t right–I was in the middle of divorce and I didn’t know it would continue to drag on for a while, I had a four-year-old who needed me, and I was living on my own. I thought I should probably just take my master’s degree and run.
I felt genuine relief when the program rejection letter came. Kind of embarrassed too, because then I had to tell my friends and colleagues and you. A professor I admired who was on the selection committee kindly told me that in a year where they were taking ten people, not six, they definitely would have selected me. I don’t know if that was true, but what is true is that I wasn’t ready then.
I was thinking about that mixture of disappointment and relief 10+ years ago and how I would react if I got straight up rejected this time. What would I do? I wasn’t sure. There is the option of picking up electrical work on your own and reapplying later. If your score is low and you are ranked lower on the waiting list than you’d like, you can do this kind of sub-apprentice work or take some math classes, and reinterview within two years, without starting the process again. I steeled myself to make a plan B.
I picked up my phone to see if I had an email. There was one from the union, with the title: Acceptance.
It told me that I had to come in and fill out paperwork by January 6, and that I was to report to Boot Camp in mid-January. BOOT CAMP?
I didn’t understand…what was my rank? At least I hadn’t been straight up rejected. I called the office to ask what my rank and score was.
“No, you’ve been ACCEPTED,” the nice office lady said. “We sent you an email with next steps. Don’t come in on the days we’re closed for the holiday.”
“I don’t have a rank…?”
“We took 19 people right away and you’re one of them.”
Oh….OH! THAT’S GOOD! No wait list! I thanked her and told her I’d see her soon. She was like “Ok whatever Nerf herder.” I’ve seen some of the questions the guys ask at the desk, so they are definitely used to dealing with dumbassery. I will fit right in.
I’m going to boot camp next month, which I think is like a mini version of Ladies’ Hammer Club, but obviously focused on electricianing. OSHA training, tools, etc. Then I get deployed as soon as they can. I wonder if there will be any other women there. Seems unlikely, since there were only two besides me at my aptitude test in October, out of 100+ people. I think I’ll be drawing a paycheck by February if things go well.
I’m greatly relieved because this is something I’ve been working towards for almost a year now, but I also have another feeling…Pete’s spent this past year encouraging me and telling me I could do this, which I wasn’t at all sure about. Ladies’ Hammer Club could be demoralizing, which I think was partly by design. I graduated and at times I wondered if I got enough out of it, or the right things. The mock interviews with real tradesmen were probably the most valuable, since I already know how to be on time and sober without whining. I know how to deal with assholes and to work hard. My obstacles are different.
So I was very proud when I got to tell Pete that I got accepted, and not even waitlisted. It is a relief to live up to the expectations and vision that your partner has of you. I didn’t know that, and that is almost as valuable as having a fucking job you want.
I was going to post this if I got turned down, and I think I still will, because it’s wonderful, and I’m up for a lot more failure to come.
In the meantime, come along while I learn how to be an electrician and how to be a person who is doing what they want to do. Man it’s great to be older.
(That’s good, because it’s not like we can be younger, eh?)