Don’t Talk About The Job Until You Have The Job

Don’t jinx yourself.

Miss Piggy wouldn’t talk about something she didn’t have.

A few months ago, I applied for a job. I had a phone interview, a successful in-person interview and then, a week or so later, an offer from a company that I wanted to work for, for more money than I was currently making. An offer letter was on the way; with that promise in hand, I told everyone I knew.

“I got a job, a new job, a better job,” I said over beers, on the phone, in texts and furtive Gchats. I waited a week, then two, then three. A month passed. I heard nothing. I emailed weekly, refreshed my email and waited some more.

“They can’t rescind a verbal offer,” I told myself. “It’s mine! The job is mine.”

After an entire summer of frustration, I finally heard back from the person who had ostensibly hired me: they were changing directions; the job itself didn’t exist anymore; please keep in touch. I already knew the answer but the confirmation was nice. I didn’t have the job and I probably shouldn’t have talked about it in the first place.

The instinct to discuss something you’re excited about at length with anyone who will listen is understandable but talking about it before it’s a reality is a lesson in heartbreak. A potential job allows the mind to indulge in fantasy — completely healthy, but dangerous if voiced out loud. Congratulations for a life event like finding new employment is a wonderful thing, but having to tell the inquiring minds that you actually don’t have the job or the car or the house means acknowledging your disappointment and putting it on display for all to see.

Tempering one’s expectations is crucial; managing those expectations and the expectations of others around you, even more so. There’s no scientific evidence that talking about something that’s not a sure bet actually jinxes it. There’s no larger force at work that controls these things. Jobs exist and then they don’t. People are hired and then, all of a sudden, they’re not. But discussing the possibility of something that will have a demonstrable effect on your everyday life only to have it taken away from you by something that’s completely out of your control feels bad. Secrets are valuable currency, but good news feels even more precious. My tendency is to share even the potential of positivity with everyone I know, because I’m excited and because quite often, the thing I’m talking about is something I desperately want to work out. When it doesn’t — and it quite often does not — making the rounds and swapping out the good news for bad feels terrible.

Honestly, it’s okay to keep some things to yourself.

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