"Believe in this moment LOVE" Kisha, writer and educator
The Interview Project
I launched The Interview Project in February of 2014 after being laid off from my job of eight years as a college administrator. In my case, a lay off was a complex gift. I was ready for change and I was fortunate to receive a severance package that afforded me some time to think about what I wanted to do next for employment. The complexity is that being laid off is demoralizing. There are no celebrations during a lay off. Regardless of how hard you worked, of your professional accomplishments during that time, of the relationships you built with colleagues, you are generally avoided like the plague. People don’t know what to say. They don’t know if they’re next. So it’s easy to find yourself alone and asking: why me, why now? What am I really good at? And what do I want to do? I felt like a ship whose rudder had just fallen off.
I thought about how often friends say, after the fact, “I thought that was a bad idea,” or “I knew you’d be great at that.” With this in mind, I decided to go out and proactively seek advice about what I should do next. Within the first two interviews, I realized my plan was absurd. No one is qualified to tell you what to do with your life. That’s a decision that comes from within. What I did learn is that listening to people talk about major transitions in their lives is fascinating and inspiring.
Following is the first set of questions (at the time I wrote these I was most curious about my relationship with my paid work):
· Tell me about an experience in your life that changed your perspective on your priorities. (How did they change? What action did you take?)
· Tell me about your relationship to your paid labor/employment and how you balance your work and personal life?
· Tell me about an artist/writer/person who has inspired and influenced your life choices?
· Given what you know about me, what is a characteristic I should build on moving forward?
· One word or phase you’d like me to take with me? (with photo)
On the Fourth of July my mom died of a stroke. It was sudden and I was caught in the wake of her death for three months before conducting another interview. I added a question:
· Where do you go to heal?
"Heart" Veronica, retired
"Levitate" Patrick, artist and tugboat captain
The Interview Project continues and I anticipate the questions will evolve. In Puerto Rico I observed that the people I spent time with rarely talked about their work. They talked about politics, art, literature, movies—the life of their minds. Noticing this made me realize how often I label people by their occupation and perhaps clung to my work identity as a measure of my personal worth. You’ll see that I’ve noted what my interviewees do for work, in part because I am still very curious about our relationships to work, but I also recognize that this label is a sliver of what defines the whole person.
This started with people I know and admire who I was fortunate to be crossing paths with. My hope is that the project will spiral to wider circles and the questions will evolve. In short, it’s about how we find our way through transitions and how we set our priorities. If you find this interesting, I’d be honored to you participate. I can interview you, or you can interview yourself and send me a video or written response to the questions, you choose. Don’t hesitate to contact me and we can figure it out together.
"COURAGE, ABANDON" Elena, writer and professor
CLICK ON THE TEXT BOX BELOW THE IMAGE TO READ EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW
"I want to see you be both brave and vulnerable" Janel, real estate broker and artist
"Listen to your (big) heart [pussy]" Micheline, author and professor
"If you want to live a romantic life you have to develop a pragmatism which supports it." Ed, commercial fisherman and artist
"Trust" Paul, medium and author
"Courage" Mark, retired college president and consultant