I bombed my first real job interview spectacularly. My suit cost all of $20 (new). It didn’t fit right, and my shoes weren’t right, but that’s what I had because I was in college at the time, and I couldn’t show up for the interview in my usual sweatshirt, jeans, and flip flops.
I sat stiffly, tense and nervous. I was a lot too eager and a little too loud in my efforts to be perceived as an enthusiastic go-getter.
When she reviewed my résumé and remarked at all my extracurriculars, with all my nerves I too honestly explained, “Yes, I was in a lot of clubs. I spent my first year of college joining all of them and the next three years trying to get out of them.” But then I knew I shouldn’t have said that, so I gave a weak laugh.
She looked at me and said nothing.
I didn’t get a call back.
I went to a different interview and talked through all of it (four hours) with parsley in my teeth, but this time I got the job.
I moved to Houston and set up my new apartment, and I started each day by driving down the I-45.
My college apartment had been decorated with roadside and garage-sale finds. My shopping criteria was that it had to be less than five dollars, or better yet, free. My decorating philosophy at the time was “something is better than nothing,” so whenever someone offered something, I accepted it.
I collected free household goods the way I collected event t-shirts and extracurriculars. It was easy to come by, and it filled a space.
My new apartment was furnished with stuff I brought from college. Gradually I realized that I didn’t want to keep all of it. It wasn’t good enough for something to be free and fill a space. So just like in college when I dropped out of clubs to commit to the two activities I cared about, I became selective, and I started cleaning out my stuff and keeping what was important to me.
Yesterday I came across a post I wrote a couple of years ago about passing on a clothing sale. A thought stuck with me:
You cannot simplify your life unless you can skip a sale and say “no thanks” to a free offer.
We spend so much time acquiring without thinking about what we’ll have to do with it next. If you have clutter sitting around your house that you have because it was cheap or free, but you don’t want or need it, find someone else to give it to.
A couple of possibilities:
- Excess hand-me-down kids’ clothes
- Mini hotel shampoos (give those to a women’s shelter)
- Company swag.
Then next time you can say, “No thanks, I’m good.” Because even free stuff has a price.