I’ve played a lot of Jenga games in my lifetime. Okay, so I’ve played about five games of actual Jenga, and the rest have been metaphorical.
For those of you who don’t know, Jenga is a game in which wooden blocks are stacked to make a tower. Every player has to remove a block during their turn and place it on top of the tower, which gets less and less structurally sound as the game goes on. The last person to remove and place a block successfully before the tower topples is the winner.
In life, Jenga can appear a lot of places. In college, for example, Jenga was everywhere, including the trashcan in my crowded dorm room, with Easy Mac containers and instant mashed potato bowls towering to impressive heights before scattering all over the asbestos tile floor.
Jenga also appeared in my studies. I carved out blocks–from my sleep, from my social life, from my sanity–and stacked them on top of an invisible pile of credentials, hoping to reach enough to get a job without toppling the tower.
After graduation, the tower became more and more unstable. I had removed over 44 blocks (applied to more than 44 jobs). I had cried enough tears to fill the 28 glasses that Michael Phelps could rest on his 28 medals if he ever decided to use them as coasters. I had dug and dug into myself to find the best blocks to present at the top.
But after everything, I did it. I now work as a proofreader for a successful tax news organization in the D.C. area. My office is lovely, the company is ethical, my coworkers are great, and there’s dental. It’s a wonderful setup, and I am very grateful and blessed to be where I am today.
I wouldn’t be here without digging, though. In my search for more blocks, I found Writers Colony Press, the publisher of Stardust, Always, The Longest Night Watch, and the upcoming The Longest Night Watch Volume 2, which will feature my first published science fiction story, “The Fringe Point.”
I also found aspects of me that I hadn’t before considered. Every interview that made me think about my weaknesses actually made me stronger in the process. Every time a prospective employer ghosted me, it taught me the value of being open and honest with your interactions, even when you may disappoint someone.
Bottom line: keep digging. Keep stacking. The respite comes just before you’re sure you’re going to fall.