Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Taking the Long Way Home

It took me quite a while to find my way today...literally. After having applied to 11 (yes, count them...11) jobs, I then took my bike on the metro and went into the city to have 2 helpful informational interviews with fellow MIIS grads. At 5pm, I decided to revel in my state of joblessness and enjoy a luxuriously long bike ride home. (My husband will be the first to tell you that I will always choose bike over metro if given the opportunity:) I've biked the 13 miles in and out of the city a few times now. However, I decided to try the less traveled path...or rather, the less direct path.

So, there I am on Massachusetts Avenue, asking passerbyers if they know the way onto Rock Creek Parkway. Mysteriously, no one knew how to get there. Everyone could see the parkway; everyone knew that the trail was very close, but no one could point me in the right direction. Yet, in an incredibly sweet and yet sad attempt to be helpful, people still offered their bad advice. And so, I kept going down wrong streets, just to find out at the bottom that I would have to climb my way back up the hill and start searching all over again.

On the third attempt, I threw up my hands and laughed at my slow metaphoric comprehension of my current job search. Finding a job in this economy feels like the never-ending goose chase for the elusive Rock Creek Park Bike Trail. You know it's there; you can see it in the distance. Everyone wants to help you get there. You just can't quite find it.

A kind biker finally pointed me to a roundabout path that he knew would eventually link up with the bike trail. (It was the same path, I might add, that I originally started down. Therefore, if I had listened to my own instincts in the first place, I would have made it there much sooner.) He explained that I would have to walk my bike for a while at the bottom, but that it would eventually cross the river and connect to the trail. And so, I walked.

As I hiked along by the babbling stream, I tried to let go a little and just enjoy the sunshine, balmy weather and beautiful surroundings. And yet, just on the other side of the river lay what I wanted: the path. I paralleled it, trying to peer ahead for this so called bridge that would finally connect me. I didn't see it, though. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes passed. I started to feel desperate to reach the other side and contemplated wading through the shallow river. Again, I laughed at myself.

"This makes perfect sense," I said out loud. It represented my job search yet again. I had been so impatient, so obsessed with getting to the other side that I had forgotten to just enjoy and trust in the journey. No sooner had I come to this realization then I saw the bridge up ahead in the distance.

I finally reached the bike path and continued my journey north, this time on the fast track. At a big crossroads, a biker stopped and asked me for directions. "Excuse me. I'm a little lost. Any chance that you know how to get back into the city?" he asked. I pointed towards the southern route and said, "Head that way. Just when you think that this can't possibly be the way, go a little further and veer left at the fork. Trust me, I've just come from there."

As I watched the biker head south, I felt satisfied that my bungled attempts at finding my way could serve someone else on their own search for the path. Of course, I realized yet again that this was a metaphor for these post-graduate job search years. (God, please let it not take years;) Not too long from now, I can use this experience to help encourage others on their own journey. I smiled to myself, turned north to move onward and encountered my third metaphoric lesson for the day: one last big hill in order to reach home.


  1. Well written! After having time to sit back and reflect on things (like the Indigo Girls' song... "Every 5 yrs or so I look back on my life and have a good laugh..."), I realize how important "the journey" is - even if it's frustrating while you're on the ride!

    I wish I was in a related field to you, or even knew someone who was, but I don't. I'll continue to keep my ears and eyes open!

  2. Thank you so much! And thanks for the great Indigo Girls' song reference. I'm going to go listen to it right now!

  3. What a wonderful story Elise! I love that your initial instincts were spot-on, but you were still able to find meaning in the journey and then help someone else. Thank you for your open, vulnerable, and very insightful blog!