It was my first job interview. Even though it was just a grocery store and I would just be stocking shelves and I was only 16, I was terrified. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I had to tell all my friends I didn’t get the job?
I practiced all kinds of questions and had my parents hold practice interviews in the kitchen. I can tend to over-prepare. When I arrived, the manager brought me to the small break room for the interview. Price stickers lined the sides of the table with a week-old sticky ring of soda on top, just to the right of my carefully placed application papers.
The questions started easy enough. I remember feeling proud and impressed with myself as I settled in a bit. And then, “So, how do you plan to work with difficult people? You won’t always get along with everyone around here.”
I answered quickly and with a surprising burst of confidence, “I believe you can learn something from everyone. You either learn more about who you want to be or learn more about who you don’t want to be.” I don’t know where I got that answer, but it stuck with me always.
I’m not 16 anymore. I’m no longer working with an arrogant teenager who makes me collect the shopping carts in the rain. This time, it’s my kid’s ballet teacher who snaps at her to point her toes or the stranger at the party asking where we got her. It’s celebrities saying all the wrong things at all the right times.
As a same-sex family, we often can’t escape these difficult people and difficult situations. I get defensive when Jillian Michaels says she wishes she could be normal instead of gay, but then when I read the rest of the interview, I see she’s just scared; “What if I open up and people attack us just because we’re a gay family?”
I’m not mad at Jillian Michaels for being scared.
I’m scared too. I hope to be brave enough to always admit that. I’m brave enough to admit that I’m always learning. I’m learning from Jillian Michaels to be the one who reads the whole interview, for starters. I’m learning to let people make mistakes. I can always do better.
I got that job. I stocked the shelves and bagged groceries for years. I carried the resilience from that first interview with me through that job, then college, then coming out and starting a family. I haven’t figured out who I want to be quite yet, but I’m still learning.