This I Believe

Lisa - Wollaston, Massachusetts
Entered on June 1, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
Themes: purpose, question

I believe in the “Dread Test.” If you dread it, whatever “it” is, don’t do it.

I discovered the Dread Test while in law school writing cover letters to apply for jobs that I didn’t want, but was supposed to want. Most of these jobs I ended up not applying for. But for the few that I did, I dreaded getting an interview, because I didn’t really want the job.

We all know what dread is. I don’t mean normal insecurities about trying something new. I mean pure to the bone feelings of revulsion, because your gut knows it is wrong for you. Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary gives these definitions: “to fear greatly” and “to feel extreme reluctance to meet or face.” There is a physical response we all have to certain situations where we must make a decision. There is a mind body connection and our emotions are doing battle with our brain. It is not rational or logical, but we have to trust it no matter how much we don’t want to.

One job search situation in particular solidified the Dread Test for me. I applied and received an interview. I didn’t like the office itself or the location. “What if I actually had to work here everyday?” I started to feel dread. The job that I had was temporary and I wanted something permanent. I would be able to travel. But that vile office! It gave me the creeps and felt like a cave.

As it turns out, they offered me the job. I don’t even remember the money conversation, just the cave of an office and the weird phone calls. The first phone call was at about 7:00 p.m. I thought it was late for a business call, but put my concerns aside. They were excited to meet me and really wanted me to work for them. I thanked them for the offer, but told them I needed some time to think about it and would contact them soon. I was still unsure. It didn’t feel like it was the right fit, but maybe I should take it.

Around 9:30 p.m. I received a second phone call. I don’t remember if it was a man or a woman, but they were quite urgent and insistent that I consider taking the job. I felt like it was “an offer that I couldn’t refuse.” I said that it was kind of late and I still needed some time to decide. I really didn’t need more time though. If they would call me at all hours just with an offer, how would they act when there was a deadline?

I decided that I did not want to find out. The thought of working for them overwhelmed me with dread. The offer did not pass the Dread Test. I did not accept their offer and to this day, I am very happy with that decision. I believe in following my instincts and the Dread Test has never failed me.