I came across a post on Instagram from actress, Nicole Ari Parker, where she’s pictured sitting in a less than luxurious room preparing for her scenes. The post read: Sometimes the “holding area” is a tiny room with rolled up carpet and a side chair….doesn’t matter…an actor can still prepare. I loved this.
For me it represented that in between time when you’re waiting for things to take shape–waiting to get a job, or a better one, waiting for a better social life, or partner, waiting for your health to improve, waiting for your finances to increase, waiting for life to make sense. The “holding area” represents that hard transitional space when you’re waiting for better circumstances. I’ve been there many, many times, and have found myself there again.
If you’ve been a regular reader you may remember that I’ve been job hunting for a while now. And my search hasn’t gone well. In fact, it’s been bizarre.
I’ve dealt with glaringly unprofessional behavior from hiring managers and have had to deal with some jarring racism. I had one white female hiring manager who was completely unprepared for me. She hadn’t gone over my resume at all, and used really informal language with me in the interview saying things like, “Totes” (tween talk for “totally”), throughout our conversation which I felt I had to lead. I found this very odd behavior from a Vice President. I suspect the woman hadn’t planned on taking me seriously because I’d been referred by an organization that helps low income (read black), applicants find jobs. But once I began talking, she couldn’t ignore my intellect and expertise. I betrayed her expectation of what she was prepared to accept and be comfortable with. My suspicion was confirmed by an employee at the agency that referred me. The VP said she’d call me the next day and set up a second interview with another colleague. I never heard back.
I had another white female hiring manager behaved with a complete lack of protocol throughout the interview process. She emailed me at all hours of the day and night. She even emailed me at 7:30 in the morning on a Sunday to refer me to another company! And in the email introduction to the other company she described me as “articulate”. *Sigh”. This is a microaggression. This is racist. If you’re referring me as a writer then shouldn’t the assumption be that I’m articulate, i.e. adept at putting words together? I left her alone, and I never heard back about the job. I’ve not only been disappointed and treated badly professionally, I’ve been disappointed personally.
Sometimes people just don’t come through for you. Some don’t care. Some pretend to and some really don’t know how to support you. Not being able to rely on people in your life can be hurtful but also strengthening because you find out who’s on your team. And you find out what you’re made of when you realize that you’re primarily in the “holding area” by yourself. There can be some anger in that initial realization when people and even family aren’t there for you. But it’s okay. Because if people don’t show up for you that means you don’t need their help. It means you can handle your circumstances without them and move through this transitional space to get to the good part on your own. Though potentially distressing at first, it becomes empowering.
I secured a job that’s way below my skill set and doesn’t pay nearly enough. It’s hard work, the hardest work I’ve ever done. But it’s allowing me to stand on my own two sore feet. And my independence is something I will fight with everything I have to maintain. I wish this period wasn’t so challenging, but I also appreciate how much stronger I’ve become. My ability to accept situations I detest has also increased. And acceptance is the first step to change.
In addition to accepting tough realities there are other things you can do to empower yourself while you’re in the holding area waiting and working for a better situation.
Keep Your Spirits Up
This is easier said than done when going through a rough patch, particularly if you struggle with depression, but you have to keep your mind right. When I first moved to St. Louis with no job, not knowing anyone and not having family to rely on, I would go into the bathroom and give myself a pep talk every morning. Sometimes through tears. But I got up and figured out each day, one by one. I read inspirational material and kept myself busy so I wouldn’t fall into a black hole of depression. I also prayed a lot. Sometimes you have to encourage yourself.
I was reminded of that recently when a colleague texted me a link to that song by Donald Lawrence and The Tri-City Singers. I then turned on Pandora’s Contemporary Gospel station and it was the first song that played. I knew God was telling me that I had to reach into my own spirit and assure myself.
Music inspires me a lot and I love using music therapy to bolster my mood.
Exercising is also a good mood booster. When I finish working out, I feel strong and like I’m taking care of myself. Maintaining your self esteem and assuring yourself of your ability to care for yourself during rough times is vital for your emotional health.
Sometimes you’ll be blessed with an angel on earth who will offer kindness and/or an encouraging word. Recently on a day when I felt I’d hit a wall, I talked with a woman who said kind, compassionate things to me and reminded me to remind myself that this period is temporary. She said to keep in mind that I’m talented and a have a bright future ahead, which brings me to the next piece of advice…
I saw an interview on the Today Show once with a man who’d been a prisoner of war. When asked how he got through the long trial of waiting to be rescued he said he looked to the future. He imagined himself reunited with his family and friends and held that picture in his mind. I do this.
I picture the future I want and take time to meditate on that, if only for a few minutes. I definitely get discouraged, but I always bounce back and refer to the ideal outcome I want.
Be Receptive Divine Support
I’m very blessed to have a stronger than normal connection to divine energy. Acts that some may view as random I know are divinely serendipitous. For instance I recently reached out to a woman I met who works at a wellness organization. I don’t know what made me call. She invited to an event they were having that night. I went and during one of the exercises a song was played, “Three LIttle Birds” by Bob Marley. The chore lyrics of the song are:
Don’t worry ’bout a thing
‘Cause every little thing gonna be alright
I knew God was reassuring me. And I wouldn’t have heard this message this way had I not felt moved to call this woman.
Another time, again on Instagram I saw two back to back posts that said, “You are exactly where you need to be.” That sucked because I don’t want to be here. But I thought, I may not be where I want to be, literally and figuratively with the job I hate, but it may be where I need to be to get my next opportunity.
The next day I met a young man who I learned lived in my neighborhood. We talked and he raved about the company he works for. He asked me to send him my information and I wound up getting an interview. I don’t know if this is the break I’m looking for, but it could be. And if nothing else, it reassured me that there are kind people in the world.
Remain open to the divine messaging and guidance you are receiving to point you in the right direction or reassure you in tough times. It always works for me.
Work Your Ass Off
That’s pretty self explanatory. Work until you reach the end of the transition, until you get the “Yes”. Don’t give up. Work until you get a job or a better one. Work until you get a degree. Work until your business makes money. Work on yourself while you wait for the right partner so you can be prepared to love and be loved. And after you’ve worked hard as hell, keep working to maintain the “Yes”, and create the next one. Take the breaks you need to in order to preserve your sanity, and then….get back to work.
If you’re in the “holding area”, you’re probably tired. I know. Believe me I know. I’m not a quitter, but I’ve had moments where I’ve thought, This is just too hard. It doesn’t make any sense that this is so hard. And momentarily, I’ve wanted to give up. But I haven’t. And you shouldn’t either.
A friend told me there’s a saying that states: “You’re either getting out of a storm, in a storm, or waiting for a storm.” What that really means is that each phase in life is temporary. So if you’re in a storm, just know that you’re on your way out. And when you get to the next storm, you’ll be stronger and better equipped to be in the holding area until it passes.
So hold on, keep working. Trust yourself and your instincts and abilities. Be kind to yourself and know that the holding area is just a temporary place. Make it work for you in whatever way you can.