I prefer sitting in the park when it’s raining. Watching the trees dance, I Surrender my breath to the river of Whispers between their trunks. They breathe for me and through me. Teach me how to breathe again.
A break in the clouds gives the signal for the bumblebees to emerge from the low grass of the park. They know the time they have is short. They roam the pastures in tandems, burying themselves in wild flowers until the wind begins to pick up again and the air is moist.
I suddenly feel like the wildflowers. Dry and wilted in the light and hunted in the quiet of the dark. “I am being trolled by my own life”, the only sensible explanation I have for myself at this point. The strides I’ve made lend to the restoration of my sanity time and time again, but today the affirmations just aren’t working. I’ve given myself permission to check out for the next few days. It’s fair.
But this book. This cover letter collection. It’s the crack in the code we’ve all asked ourselves for at one point or another, in some way or another. What about my cover letter? I’ll admit, I used to peruse postings on Indeed.com that allowed for you me to apply from my smartphone because they never required a cover letter. I wanted a job. Any job. I was in a complete rut and didn’t care about the quality of my livelihood or how that would affect the primary facets of my life; home, family, self, etc. My whole purpose was to obtain a job, I trained myself to believe. I’d subscribed to surviving, not living. I was a job.
For four months, I watched myself fluctuate between manic depression, anti socialism and anxiety. I attributed my value to my earning potential. I was pulling mediocre positions because I’d already subscribed to the idea that I could only obtain certain positions with an associate’s degree. I started focusing on what I didn’t have instead of what I did have.
The good thing about bouncing my mind off of so many places is that I don’t stay low too long. I began applying to more jobs between practicing Arabic and Spanish to switch my mind when my thoughts became repetitive and I was close to going mad. As I studied and applied, I slowly walked myself out of the mind that told me to keep going back to square one, and paved a way of thinking that created a space for my dreams. Dreams are created and, like the rest of us that are created, need space to thrive. Your mind is its first world, the womb your dreams emerge from.
What of the dreams born of a mind that is lost, invaded, over crowded, wasted, abandoned, chained, torn? These thoughts raced through my mind until I went numb. For three weeks, religiously, I listed the things I was grateful for in my life and read them before going to bed at night. I tried including variations of the same list until I felt myself losing focus. The entries became more interesting as I tweaked and anteed the complexity of each entry.
The more I reflected, the more I found myself grateful and open to revisiting more reasons to be grateful, and what I “didn’t have” slowly transformed into what I desired. It was a simple shift in language.
I’d noticed that I was a good partner, but not so great to myself. I wondered what I could do for myself after years of helping others reach their goals. I knew I had to be in the right mind to do it. I knew no matter what, I’d have to speak to myself from the heart if I was going to create a space that gave life to my dreams. I began to free-write regularly, in present-tense, the things I wanted to foster and maintain in my life. I knew whatever position I would commit to would be a life-partner of sorts. My partner in pursuit of my dreams.
Whatever opportunity came had to fulfill that purpose. I shifted my perspective and placed more value in my role as a prospective member of the organization’s community, instead of potential employee. I had something to vet as well. I decided I would work in either community engagement or education. I wanted to see the extent to which my work would reach. I wanted to make a difference and a way for my family and community. Will my work support my dreams? Yes. How? My dream is to be a travel writer. A position in education or community engagement /development would be conducive to my lifestyle as a mother and individual. Plus, it will be manageable and practical for trips and writing excursions. My next question was, do I have the tools to obtain a position in education or community engagement? Well, yeah! I reviewed my resume one more time before writing my cover letter. Then I went over the reasons why I enjoyed each position that I listed. I asked myself what elements of these enjoyable positions would I like to see in a prospective position? Which benefits of my previous experiences would I like to see? The absence of which benefits would be deal-breakers? I slowly began to form my own ideal position.
I kept that all in mind while composing a letter of interest to each prospective employer I came across. If you desire a position and you have already established it will be an effective and transformative partner in achieving your dreams, then it is suitable enough for you. If it doesn’t inspire and support your dreams, move on. You’re going to waste your brain power.
A cover letter details your thought patterns. It’s a peek into your mind, an elaborate note of your passion and mission. An invitation to set the tone of a discourse in one phase of your career.
The ideal position should motivate and support your innovative mind. My take is, if you can’t spare the words as to why you’re interested in the position, then you’re underwhelmed or distracted. Come back. Research, reflect and review.
How do you want to set the tone? How much of your life do you want to change? How much do you want to expand / extend in your life? Will this position help you foster and maintain those parts of your life? How? What are the goals of the organization / company / group you are applying to? How will you help them achieve and maintain their aims in the position you are applying for? If you don’t see how you can help, serving in the capacity of the position you are interested in, what related experience do you have? A lot of positions are offered across industries. For example, a good number of the lunch staff at the school I teach at are also bartenders.
Is there a story you could share to express a theme related to the company / organization’s mission? Is there somewhere you travelled? A trip abroad where you engaged a community that the organization currently serves? How did the experience change you? How does that connect to the mission of the organization you’re interested in serving? How does it connect to your visions for your own life? What elements attracted you to the position? It’s good to keep checking in with yourself while exploring positions. How will you effectively express your intentions and obtain the right partner position for your purpose? How will you commit to this position and your dreams? A lot of the writing starts before you even see the page.
The following letters give you a glimpse of close to a decade of my life. The good, bad and ugly wrapped up in a delicate delivery of facts and events like a first-person obituary. All in the name of a cover letter. What goes into one? This isn’t a manual, but a testimony of the life and works of a young, black woman, mother, educator, student(-of -life) and healer in Philadelphia. I’m still deciding if I’ll make a book including the doodles, freewrites and poetry I wrote in between drafts. But for now, here are four of my most recent cover letters. All of which I got callbacks and offers for (I may include letters that got me no responses in the book) and all of which are spaced out with WordPress’s formatting…. just keep scrolling after the first letter… and so forth.