Unfiltered Commentary: Ninety Second You

Alex Strausman
Kirk Smith/THE REVIEW
Alex reflects on job interviews, and tells you about herself.

BY
ASSISTANT MOSAIC EDITOR

Tell me about yourself. Tell me who are you, where you plan to be in five years. Tell me —in the next 90 seconds— are you strong? Are you brave? Are you courageous? Tell me: who are you at 3:00 a.m. when everyone else is asleep? Tell me what makes you laugh, or be transparent: let me in on what makes you cry.

Prove to me your core is made up of more than the extracurricular activities on your résumé— that you are more than just a check mark in those empty boxes I’m hoping to fill.

Impress me.

Prove to me how you have proved to so many others in this lifetime that you are worth knowing. Make me know you.

I sit in a New York City Starbucks next door to a building I dream of working in. I am 45 minutes early to an interview with the company I dream of working for, knowing that I will show up in 30 minutes, exactly 15 minutes early—showing that I’m eager, not bothersome, “hungry, not starving,” as Gigi Hadid once said about her own catwalk to fame.

I don’t drink coffee.

Instead, I sit at the counter eating a $4 cup of two apple slices, three cantaloupe pieces, nine puny grapes. I stare at the barista struggling to satisfy gold member cardholders.

Voices in my head: tell me about yourself.

I imagine telling the barista about myself in 90 seconds. What would she want to know? How would I frame myself?

Optimistic, socially aware, overprotective older sister? Animal lover? Wedding go-er, crier? Snoozer of a 12:30 p.m. alarm on a weekend? Believer in ice cream as part of a balanced diet? Hypochondriac— worrier? Warrior?

I think about telling her that I am a 3:00 a.m. thinker—that I have hundreds of pages of poetry on a single word document saved in a secret folder, filed under several other miscellaneous folders on my desktop. I think about telling her how my Notes app on my phone is full of story ideas and poems founded from expressions I see on strangers’ faces adjacent to mine on trains headed round-trip to fast-paced cities. I think about telling her of the parts of my life I plan to make into whole pieces later.

I think about telling her I’ll write about this moment—the one where I wonder how to tell someone—how to show someone—your true self in 90 seconds. I wonder if she’d further wonder or if I’d stumble upon deaf ears, with her forgetting my parts and pieces.

I am indefinable in 90 seconds. We all are. They’re asking me to take twenty-one plus years of existence—21 plus years of discovering all the aspects of me, and somehow prioritize only my winning qualities for showcase without wondering or asking how I got here—to being me.

I try to think about where I would I be without my failures— without those random arrays of 3 a.m. poetry that I avoided deleting, that I reminded myself I’d someday want to look back on and see how far I’d come since butterflies beat out of my chest in eighth grade over that boy in my math class. I think about how much more comfortable I am with real emotion on paper, and impress myself with the way my words came to breathe paper to life.

Tell me about yourself. Tell me about the way you wake up in the morning—about the way you say goodnight to loved ones. Are you kind? Trustworthy? Important? Self-aware? Excited enough about being here? About being part of these moments and interactions? Are you a good fit? Even better: are you the right fit?

There is so much to be said for yourself, for your self-worth, for your confidence and commitment to growth and challenge and maturity. For now, show them the parts and pieces of you worth telling. Later, you can make the pieces whole.

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  • comment-avatar
    Eric Ruth 3 years

    Nice writing, Alexandra!

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