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Single in the City is a reoccurring column on Philly Happening that will appear on Wednesdays. It chronicles a single thirty-something, new to the Philadelphia, searching for friendship, love, and her place in this vibrant city.

The Best Things in Life are Worth the Wait

Several times throughout this Single in the City column, I have drawn comparisons between dating and job searching. On the surface, the two things don’t seem to have much in common, but once you delve into it, the similarities are astounding.

With both dating and job searching, you have to be actively looking. Sure, once in a while something—a cute guy, or a great opportunity—will come to you, but more often than not, you have to show initiative and put yourself out there in order to get what you’re looking for. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, the best thing to do is actively look and figure it out!

With both dating and job searching, it pays to be cognizant of what’s going on around you, be strategic in what markets you’re putting yourself, and take control of who you’re talking to or what you’re applying to, and how often, and how well, you are doing both these things.

Dating and job searching also have one critical thing in common: you have to be patient.  Sometimes, no matter how much effort and strategy is going into your search, results might not happen overnight, and you have to be okay with that. Results take time. Know that the best results are worth waiting for, even if the act of waiting can feel excruciating.

Sometimes the lack of results can be good—you’re forced to reevaluate the situation and think about what you can improve.

I’ve had to reevaluate with both dating and job searching in the past. With dating, I have to admit, that sometimes I really was doing nothing, and just waited for the flocks of smart, ambitious, attractive men to come stampeding toward me in droves. In reality, there was no flocking. There was no stampeding. My phone was radio silent.

Sometimes this would frustrate me. “What am I doing wrong?” I would ask, but then it was usually pointed out to me by friends—one in particular— that I wasn’t really doing anything.

You can’t do what you’ve always done and expect a different result, so we had to re-strategize, or rather, go back to basics:  Step 1—eye contact, Step 2—talking, Step 3—flirting.

I was good at step 2, but not so good at step 1, which made it tough to get to step 2, and forget step 3, (what’s “flirting???”), so needless to say, we had a lot of re-strategizing to do. (I will say that re-strategizing is most effective after a couple– okay, a few– glasses of Sauvignon Blanc. Thanks Erica and Katrina!).

As for job searching, I’ve experienced several searches where I’ve thrown my resume out into the void and have gotten nothing in return. Sometimes this would frustrate me. “What am I doing wrong?” I would ask, but then it was usually pointed out to me by friends—one in particular—that I wasn’t doing enough.

You can’t do what you’ve always done and expect a different result, so we had to re-strategize, or rather, go back to basics: Step 1—be very specific about what you’re looking for, Step 2—reach out to local industry experts to have informational interviews and to build your professional network, Step 3—be persistent. My aunt and uncle always say, “The squeaky wheel gets attention.” For every application, follow-up with step 2 (find someone to reach out to at the company you’re interested in), and 3—don’t let yourself drop off their radar.

However, sometimes, even when you re-strategize and are doing the best that you can in your searches, you still might not see results. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing something wrong. Sometimes it just means that you need to be a little more patient. You have to sit tight, trust, and wait.

Back in January, I had a conversation with a childhood friend about my frustrations with dating. We had just come back from dinner at our hometown’s local diner; plates of crisp sweet potato fries and award-winning pie heaped with whipped cream had been consumed. We sat in the car and chatted for a few minutes before I dropped her off.

I was just coming off of a few dates with someone who had seemed very interested in me, but then randomly fell off his bike, hit his head, got a concussion, and had an epiphany about not wanting to see me anymore. Looking back, this story seems funny, but at the time, it was the last straw in a long string of unsuccessful romantic encounters.

This time when I asked, “What am I doing wrong?” the response was, “You’re not doing anything wrong! Who is to say that your way is not only different, but better, and right?”

This statement made me take pause. Sometimes it’s not about what you’re doing, or not doing, it’s about the timing.

Sometimes things naturally unfold when they are supposed to, and you have to be okay with that. You have to sit tight, trust, and wait.

It’s interesting that at the time of this conversation, I had actually just started talking to the person who would become the game-changer in my personal life. It had only been just under a week at that point, and would still be more than a week before we would meet in person. My friend was right, I wasn’t doing anything wrong at the time. I was doing fine—more than fine, in fact; the right person just hadn’t come along yet.  Or in that case, he had, but the timing wasn’t right for that fact to be revealed to me.

And when it was revealed to me, it became clear to me that everything that I had experienced up until that point was meant to happen so that I could become primed to be the best person to meet the best person. Suddenly, all the painful experiences and ups-and-downs made sense. (And without those ups-and-downs, I never would have had the inspiration for this column!)

So, how do you differentiate between knowing that you need to improve and knowing that you’re doing all that you can and just need to wait?

It’s hard to say, but it’s something that each person has to answer for him/herself.

Finding the right job for me has been an up-and-down journey for the better part of 10 years now. I’m in the stage now where I am working hard at it, re-strategizing every week, and also waiting as patiently as I can.

Who is to say that my career path all these years has not been wrong, but just different, and better, and right? Everything that I have experienced up until this point was meant to happen so that I could become primed to be the best person to find the best career. Soon, all the painful experiences and ups-and-downs will make sense.

The timing just isn’t right yet. I need to sit tight, trust, and wait.

I know from my personal life that the greatest things in life are well worth the wait.

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