As a professional communicator working in our nation’s capital – our nation’s BILINGUAL capital – I’m at a disadvantage. I’ve taken some French classes, but in the end I do not have the opportunity to practice it daily so I’ve not come very far. I struggle with the issue of bilingualism as I’ve lost a number of really cool career opportunities because of my uni-lingual status. (Unless you count being able to speak Starbucks!) I would often get frustrated as I’d see opportunities go to someone who had less communications experience but spoke French. The biggest offender? The Federal Government.
Years ago, I had set my sights on getting a job within the Federal Government. Time after time I was called in for their screening test, invited for an interview and then set off for language testing – despite being forthright on my lack of French. Still, I diligently did the testing, slightly improving as the years went on, but never enough to make the cut. It was tough to repeatedly hear that I was the best candidate – if only I spoke French. There are many things in this world that you can BS your way through… but a language isn’t one of them.
Ever hear the saying: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
That was me. Then I smarted up.
I am not bilingual.
I will never work for the Federal Government.
And when I took a moment to actually think about it, I really didn’t want to work for them. It turns out that my struggle with French was really a struggle to let go of a career path that I was no longer interested in. Once I let go, I discovered a plethora of opportunities that were perfect for where I did want to be.