Crazy Career Moves? ‘Delulu Is the Solulu’ | Mint

Crazy Career Moves? ‘Delulu Is the Solulu’

Crazy Career Moves? ‘Delulu Is the Solulu’
Crazy Career Moves? ‘Delulu Is the Solulu’

Summary

Delusional isn’t a bad word to these job seekers—it’s a mindset.

When she applied for a job at a creative agency that worked with the snack maker Mondelez, Kyra James wanted to throw in something sweet.

A big fan of the company’s Sour Patch Kids, James mocked up a screenshot of a video call with some of the tart, sugar-encrusted gummies. The colorful waifs waved back at her. The Atlanta-based social-media producer says she wanted recruiters to see that she already had buy-in from a key stakeholder: the Kids themselves.

Some might call it guts, or say James was making her own luck. But the 27-year-old calls it something different: being “delulu," online shorthand for the word “delusional." The term has exploded on social media to describe leaps that are riskier than what most would take in their careers, relationships and other parts of their lives.

James, who is from the British Virgin Islands, says delusions are necessary sometimes.

“When you come from a tiny, tiny, tiny speck on the map," she says, “sometimes the idea of manifesting your dreams internationally—you have to be a little delulu to believe it."

People are embracing and documenting their delulu online—as well as the catchphrase “delulu is the solulu"—as a way to challenge themselves and make risky career moves that they hope will pay off. Some see it as another form of manifesting, another way to affirm that whatever dreams they have will eventually come true.

As many U.S. employees feel angry, stressed and disengaged, delulu is taking off in the workplace. People are seeking jobs that pay more in the midst of inflation, the return of student-loan payments and the ever-elusive dream of owning a home. And some like James are rethinking their career paths, aiming for new industries or roles that better suit their goals.

James never got a response from the agency, but that creative spark has become a guiding light. “It certainly inspired me to see where there is room for me to flex my creativity when applying for jobs," she says.

Jumping tracks

Quynhthy Tran has officially been a stockbroker for about five months. A year ago, the 28-year-old was a teacher in Dallas.

Tran, who graduated from college in pandemic-plagued 2020, spent her first year teaching asynchronously to homebound students over video, as well as in the classroom. She quickly started to burn out, with anxiety surging on Sunday evenings.

Two months into her third year, she decided to resign. She had nothing lined up, and the move put her teaching license in jeopardy, she says. So she applied for a job at a brokerage firm. Though she had zero experience, she got an offer. There was just one catch: She had to pass three license exams.

She failed the first one. When she managed to pass that, she failed the second one.

“This is true delusional," she says. “I’m trying so hard to make it into an industry that I know nothing about."

It took her five total test attempts, over about eight months, to become a stockbroker.

Tran says her delulu episode gives her more confidence, and not just in the world of finance. “If there’s something that I want to pursue—whether it’s like stand-up comedy or a different career transition—I feel like I’m capable of doing that."

The internet’s most-celebrated case of delulu was also the result of a career dead end.

Sabrina Bahsoon, who lives in London, graduated this past June with a law degree—and zero passion for it. Instead, she applied to various fashion and marketing internships. On a whim, the 23-year-old began filming TikToks in the London Underground, with wind blowing in her hair as she lip-synced to the likes of Nicki Minaj and Tate McRae.

The videos went viral and earned her the nickname “Tube Girl," after London’s subway system. Soon, she was attending fashion weeks across Europe, and even hit the catwalk for the makeup brand MAC.

“Staying delusional is a way of just not letting yourself get into that negative mindset of ‘You can’t do this,’" she says.

She says she wants to keep working with brands, and dreams of creating something like James Corden’s “Carpool Karaoke," but on the Tube.

‘Everyone should be delulu’

Tasha Mwafulirwa was studying social anthropology and social policy at her university in Scotland. Like Bahsoon, the 24-year-old wasn’t feeling it. She decided to give coding a try.

“Some people told me that you have to go to school to learn how to code, you can’t just learn in a boot camp, and I was like, ‘I’m going to try anyway, and I’m going to apply for jobs that I’m not qualified for,’" Mwafulirwa says.

She learned the skills necessary in three months and started applying for developer jobs with only those classes as her experience.

“So that’s what I would say is being delusional," Mwafulirwa says.

She started a job in June 2022, and now leads a section of the engineering team, despite only having the title of a junior software developer. She says her parents are happy she got a job—they didn’t even know she was learning coding—but they still want her to go back and finish university.

“Everyone should be delulu," Mwafulirwa says. But only if they have the drive to follow through on their delusion, she adds.

Deja White took her own delulu dreams on the road. While holding down a full-time remote job, the 28-year-old left the confines of Atlanta, to wander Central and South America. For five months, she bopped around, from Mexico to Colombia. She says she has “limited working knowledge" of Spanish.

“I basically was holding it together with Google Translate," she adds.

After returning to the U.S., she embarked on another journey into the unknown: She started an online pilot program to coach people on their careers. It’s nothing like her previous roles as a content manager and marketing consultant. In fact, she had no professional experience as a career coach or human-resources executive, beyond mentoring young professionals and running a career-development blog since 2019.

“Embracing something like ‘Being delulu is the solulu’ is a good way to wake you up a little bit," White says, who now lives in Tulsa, Okla.

She recently secured her first client.

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Write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at ann-marie.alcantara@wsj.com

Crazy Career Moves? ‘Delulu Is the Solulu’
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Crazy Career Moves? ‘Delulu Is the Solulu’
Crazy Career Moves? ‘Delulu Is the Solulu’
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Crazy Career Moves? ‘Delulu Is the Solulu’
Crazy Career Moves? ‘Delulu Is the Solulu’
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Crazy Career Moves? ‘Delulu Is the Solulu’
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