Wake up. Turn off your alarm.
Do not open Instagram. You’ll waste twenty minutes and the high-fibre breakfast you had every intention of making will be substituted with a coffee-to-go that you can’t afford.
Brush your teeth. Pee. Pull out your tampon. You know you shouldn’t have slept with it in. Make a mental note never to do that again.
You want to put on that dress you impulsively bought too late in the season so you’re deluding yourself into thinking that summer isn’t over yet. It’s colder than you think and goose-flesh bare thighs invite the kind of attention that leaves you feeling like your body isn’t your own.
Look in the mirror. You’re trying that new morning affirmation thing, so do that — three things you’re grateful for, starting with today’s job interview. It’s not easy for graduates in this job market. Do you realise how lucky you are? How lucky you are that your aunt kept on good terms with her ex-husband? That she was willing to pull this string for you? That he was willing to interview you?
An overtaking van collided with a cyclist throwing him six meters off his bike so that’s going to add thirty-four minutes to your commute. Leave early. Tardiness won’t be tolerated and you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
Avoid the subway. It might be the quickest option but a rush-hour pervert will violate your personal space, pulling on the loose threads of your already fraying composure which will later unravel completely when things in the interview don’t go to plan. Take the bus.
Twenty minutes is fifteen minutes too early to arrive at an interview. Linger outside until the time is right. Use this time to call your mum but don’t just complain about how unemployed and overtired you are. Ask her about her life. Remember that she gave you yours.
When the receptionist asks for your name, give it to her confidently, kindly. Ask her how her day is going. Get on her good side and she may just add her two cents the next time he walks past her desk. Wasn’t she lovely? she’ll say. What a great addition to the team she’d make! she’ll exclaim.
When you’re invited into his office, stick out your hand for a handshake.
Keep your composure when he goes in for a hug instead.
Muster a smile when he remarks on what a woman you’ve blossomed into. Don’t make that face.
Laugh warmly when he says that the last time he saw you, you were ‘this’ high. Don’t recoil like that when his hand, signalling how high, grazes your left breast.
When the worn cushions of the sofa give way underneath you, be quick to find your balance. Stop readjusting the hem of your dress, the cross of your legs, the placement of your hands. Stop being so frigid. Breathe.
Now you’ve confused him with your coldness. Say something to break the silence. Don’t make him feel uncomfortable. Don’t make him feel like he is making you feel uncomfortable.
Remember how lucky you are to be here. Be grateful for the opportunity.
When he asks if you miss the party life on campus, if you’ve met anyone in the city, if you have a boyfriend, don’t redirect the conversation. Don’t tell him how you’ve always had a passion for design, how your greatest strength is initiative or that your greatest weakness is time management (and that it’s something you’re actively working on). Don’t perform those lines you’ve rehearsed over and over. Tell him what you know he wants to hear.
You know the interview is over because he tells you it is. “Well, I guess that’s the interview over”. He says it with a smirk that tells you that you’ve blown it. That’s the interview over.
Swallow the pebble that’s formed in your throat. Blink back the hot tears.
Don’t cry until you’ve left the building.
Don’t be surprised that you didn’t get it.
Don’t be so ungrateful next time.
Kat Nugent is a freelance writer based in London, United Kingdom. Her words have been published in HuffPost UK, Manrepeller and Into The Fold.