Problem Bear


She took all of ten seconds to scan my too-long, too scattered resume and said to me, “Two things come to mind when I look at your resume. First, this is a horrible resume. You’re marketing yourself as eight people and you need to market yourself as one. This is such an ENFP thing to do. Second, I can’t help but think you’ll be a really fun spouse.”

“How old are you?” She asks.

“I’m 26.”

She takes a moment to respond and then tells me, “It’s a shame my son isn’t ten years older, you would be really fun for him.”

I’m too intrigued by the unexpected turn the professional I hired to edit my resume has taken to remind her what she is getting paid for. I asked for resume advice and received dating advice.

She senses the hesitation in my voice, “Do you date your co-workers?” She is reading me like a book. Does my resume say that much about my personal life?

“I do have a history of that. Just about only that. There was something with my boss this summer.”

Silence. I can almost hear her shaking her head. “Never again, Shelby.”

“Okay,” I find myself agreeing to this stranger.

“26 is such a great age. You’re in your prime. You know, men don’t want to date women who are 29 because they are only thinking about babies. If they have the choice between a 29-year-old with a ticking clock or a 26-year-old, they’re going to choose the 26-year-old. You need to find yourself an INTJ man. INTJ men love ENFP women. But, you are not allowed to date any park employees. You need a stable man, which INTJs are, one who is practical and who is not only amused by your far-flung tendencies, but who can afford to have you do them. Besides, you’ll never find an INTJ man in a park. He’ll be the one reading at a Starbucks. He’ll be the one that is too terrified of bears to even fathom setting foot where they roam wild, without a fence or window to keep him safe.”

I’m going to have to find one off-beat INTJ man, I think. There’s no way I could be with a man who couldn’t be around bears. Bears are my life. I let her continue.

What’s this bear sheparding on your resume?”

“Oh, it was when I helped with relocating problem bears–”

“Problem bears! That is my new favorite phrase. Problem bears!”

It was clear that she was getting a kick out of someone who worked so far outside the corporate realm. After a serious facelift to my resume and a few comments like, “Oh, you’re such a do-gooder,” “Look at you, loving nature and protecting it,” I felt good, maybe even great, about whatever my work future, perhaps for the first time in my life. I felt elated about life in that moment, especially after she told me, “You are incredibly qualified for the type of jobs you want and now that your resume doesn’t suck anymore, I’d hire you.”

Coming from one of the leading career and education consultants in the business and the hilariously entertaining yet surprisingly insightful conversation the hour had brought, I was really happy with life and the possibilities waiting for me down the road. It’s quite obvious when you think about it, the striking similarities between job hunting and dating. It’s all about the story you tell, how you present yourself. Whether intended or not, she shaped me up along with my resume. It’s so easy for other people to tell your story for you. Sometimes, strangers have the most insight into your life and can tell you what those closest you to can’t. It also helped that she was brutally honest, to the point where some may have considered it mean, but where I simply found it amusing. Sometimes, help is found in the least expected places. They say you find someone special when you stop looking, and maybe that’s where you find help too. Or anything, really.

I was excited and relieved looking over the outcome of my new resume. I’m sure she was too. One less tragically composed resume for a hiring manager to sift through. I could get an actual job, not a seasonal one, not one I was entirely overqualified for. I could live in one place. She had said that even she would hire me. Within one hour, my spirits had taken a 180-degree spin. I wasn’t sure the world was ready for me.

Of course, she had to knock a little reality back into me. She added, “And Shelby, don’t wait until you’re 29 to find a man. Otherwise you’ll end up with a problem bear.”

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