We last left off at a point of inflection, I'd serendipitously found a path to explore, but to get there, I went to some dark depths, physically and mentally.
Somewhere between Qatar and Nigeria, I went into a tail spin of self doubt, regret, and eventually self loathing. I gained 20 kilograms, didn't leave the house, and spent countless hours playing video games. At the time, I remember justifying this by telling myself I deserved a break, after working without weekends for 3 years, for exhausting my health and getting a herniated disc due to the stress, sleeplessness and never ending work.
It wasn't long after gaining all that weight and suffering from random ailments that I finally realized that the way my stress is expressed is physical and internal. I have a calm demeanour, and instead of outwardly expressing my state of mind, there are gears constantly churning, at times falling apart as they self-immolate.
It was in this state, that I was invited to an interview by a recruiter. I'd been adding random people on LinkedIN 'the professional network' to pursue job leads. For every job application I completed, I'd follow the threads of posts, comment and add the responsible recruiter.
After months of stalking, yup, nothing happened. This recruiter got in touch through a friend's recommendation. They had recently successfully placed my friend, and so my friend put in a good word. All that LinkedIN crock didn't work, if I'd remained consistent from 2015 until now though, I'd have a "following" I could tap into to punt the latest bitcoin fad, I kid, and digress.
Feeling finally validated, I spoke to the recruiter, it felt nice to be pursued, completely forgetting all the lessons I learned as an 'Hr' person who has experienced being on the other side of that phone call. I told myself I deserved this! I was the best candidate by far, like all the other candidates were made to believe by every recruiter.
The thing is, I hadn't come across Carol Dweck's book 'Growth Mindset' at this point. I'd later learn that I exhibited a good number of fixed mindset tendencies and behaviours. This didn't help me none on the interview. Desperate to know it all and do it all, one of the questions at the final interview, was about a very specific detail of work that I'd done. A detail so remote and lost in the fog of memories, that I froze. In my fixed mindset, I completely blanked out, and that tail spin I'd been in, came crashing like a heavy wave of slimy impostor syndrome, pulling me under, with the all too familiar voices that kept me company in that dark room with black-out curtains drawn. The interviewer didn't matter, my performance thus far didn't matter. All that mattered was that I had made a mistake, that I was a fraud, that I didn't deserve to be there, and that I should just get up and walk away, that I've embarrassed myself, that I'd embarrassed the recruiter, that I'd embarrassed my friend.
My friend after hearing what happened, simply stated, you threw that interview, and with a salary like that? It must have been on purpose. He was right, the self-sabotage was extreme, because if I had an inkling of growth mindset, it would have kicked in and took ownership of the mistake, clarified why I couldn't recall that detail, and found a way to clarify the need and provide an appropriate value oriented answer. But no, my friend was right. I threw that interview. The same way I'd been throwing myself and my health under a bus.
So I decided to do something I'd wanted to do for sometime, a seed that was planted in me in my youth spent reading history on the floor of the public library. To travel through the major Mediterranean countries that impacted Islamic civilization. Turkey, Morocco, and Spain. I ended up passing through Scotland, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Italy in addition to that list.
The travels didn't contribute to my growth, but they did allow for a pause in life. A space for perspective to percolate, and for openness and observation to take firmer root.
And that my friend, is what I did.