Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Know What I Know (with apologies to Paul Simon)

 This morning, I stumbled bleary-eyed to the computer to read my email and found two job leads forwarded to me by Dov. I scanned the leads. One of them didn't quite fit me: they wanted someone with an academic degree.  But Dov kept telling me to ignore all the nitty-gritty details listed on these job opps and to just go ahead and send them my resume and so I did.

Not long after, I received a message from the poster of the job opportunity that had required an academic degree. The message said, "Hi Varda, its nice to meet you.Your resume is very impressing, however you didn’t write anything about your education, and since this job is in the government they have specific demands, could you please elaborate?"

There was nothing I could really do but tell her that I have no academic degree. That I am an autodidact. That the only piece of paper I had to show her was a terrific recommendation from my boss at my last full time position. In my head, I was thinking of the lyric from a Joni Mitchell song, My Old Man:

We don't need no piece of paper
From the city hall
Keeping us tied and true  

Not that we were talking about a marriage license. But I wanted to scream and protest: I'm GOOD at what I do. I don't need an academic degree or a piece of paper to prove that. My work speaks for itself.

But I didn't scream, didn't protest. No point really. It wouldn't help me get that job.

Later that morning, I had some errands to run, and I decided I needed some music to cheer me up. I wasn't depressed exactly. But I felt like I needed to work a bit to keep my spirits up. So I grabbed my iPod and plugged in my earbuds.

I put on my Paul Simon Graceland playlist and as I was nearing my first stop, the song, I Know What I Know, came on. For the first time, something in the lyrics latched onto some synapse in my brain and really resonated. It was like I'd never heard that lyric before:

She looked me over
And I guess she thought
I was all right
All right in a sort of a limited way
For an off-night
She said don't I know you
From the cinematographer's party
I said who am i
To blow against the wind
I know what I know
I'll sing what I said
We come and we go
That's a thing that I keep
In the back of my head

Wow. That was exactly like what had happened to me earlier this morning with that job.

Now that happens to me a lot. Something I hear or read will seem to be so connected to current events. And I do not believe in a random universe. That message was coming to me from on high. So I strained to listen to the rest of the song and when it was over, I clicked replay.

Just like in the song, someone had looked me over and found me limited, wanting, because I didn't have the credentials.

I know what I know! I have the talent and the know-how. But owning the qualifications weren't enough.

It didn't seem fair.

I appreciate that education is a good thing. I appreciate that education is a commitment and huge expense. But not having a degree is like not being a man: it doesn't speak to my qualifications for the job. Isn't ruling me out because I lack a university degree then, a type of discrimination?

I came to this conclusion: When we are all dead and gone, what is left is the body of the work we produced while on this earth. I stand by the work I do and feel no shame. I know what I know. And that is the thing I will keep in the back of my head.

With that resolved, I felt better. The gloom that had threatened to ruin my day lifted and the sunshine came back. There will be other opportunities. Other jobs.

I guess I just need a little nudge sometimes.

1 comment:

  1. You keep plugging away Varda. I'm pulling for you and I believe in you. The right people will be so lucky to have you.