To be completely honest, it has taken me quite a while to come to terms with the fact that I am still unemployed. Sure, I write and keep house, but this is the first time in my life since I was a teenager that I have not had an actual job and it has been a very difficult adjustment.
From the moment I graduated high school I have been employed. In fact, it was necessary for me to have a job in order to pay for my books and partial tuition in college. When I was young, I would look ahead ten years and imagine where I would be … I never saw myself in the position that I’m in now. There will always be situations in life that sometimes force you to take a different path than the one you covet, and there are choices we must all make to get from one point to another.
At thirty-one years of age, I saw myself as a great writer who would be on endless book tours and working on her next novel. I never saw myself sitting at my dining table, wondering when I was going to find my next job. Needless to say, I underestimated the economy and overestimated myself.
The first month of being jobless was like a much-needed vacation I had never taken. Since I had been working for so long and rarely took a break, I thought some rest was exactly what I deserved while I searched for employment elsewhere. Hey, I was even finally going to have time to work on the next great novel that I just knew was inside me somewhere. I upgraded laptops, got rid of my painful high heels, and prepared to face an adventure I had never faced before: the prospect of once again having the fresh options of pursuing a great career. There was only one problem, I had no direction and I assumed that the next great career was simply going to fall into my lap.
Of course I wanted to focus on writing, but my dream of completing my novel to the best of my satisfaction and pride was a lot easier to dream about than actually accomplish. Another hurdle I had not expected was writer’s block. Maybe it was the pressure that began to build with the realization that 1) I was not the only one looking for employment and 2) talent only takes you so far that finally got to me. Whatever the case may be, I soon found myself in the most depressing of ruts, I still had no job and I was beginning to feel as if perhaps I also had no talent.
Another aspect that began driving me mad was the memory of my last job that proved to be nothing short of a fiasco. I worked for a media station that headed two television stations and a radio station. Sound glamorous? Well, at first it was. Who would not be starstruck by endless backstage passes, celebrities, and seemingly unlimited access just by flashing a media badge? I certainly was. Unfortunately, the glitter and glamour soon began to dull and tarnish the longer I worked there. Although I worked at the station for over five years, it soon became apparent just how shady some of their practices were. Some of the employees stopped at nothing and stepped on everyone just to get a 3 percent raise that would have been more deserved by someone who actually worked.
Managers came and went and with each change came more disillusionment. I had to get out before I became one of the mindless zombies clawing their way to the top. The day I stepped out of that windowless office and felt the fresh air on my face as I drove home I felt renewed. This was the dramatic change in my life that I so desperately needed. People congratulated me and wished me luck. Others envied the courage it took to take such a dramatic leap. Anything was possible.
Now, six months later I am still waking up, making my coffee, and kissing my husband good-bye as he heads to work. More often than not, I find myself lingering at the window with something like envy in my eyes as he heads toward his destination. There is no rush in my step as I clean what needs cleaning, make crafts to keep my mind active, and play with my dogs who have become so attached to me I can’t even get the mail without igniting a chorus of barks to follow me. Yes, I search for jobs constantly, even looking forward to hearing from employers that would be a commute; I have jumped the writer’s-block hurdle and continue to write, because it truly is what keeps me from contracting a mean case of cabin fever. Still, I feel that what has held me back more than anything is the fear of ending up in a career that I do not like; a career where people are objects, pawns used for the executives to toy with, a career that might seem glamorous but in the end is nothing more than a ruse for some seedy way of making money.
So I shuffle along, making my crafts and writing. I play my music and light my candles. Although I am no longer eighteen and fresh-faced, eager to please and ready to jump just because someone says so, I know that when a job comes along (a job that I can truly say I love) I will feel just as fresh-faced and eager as I did so many years ago.
While at the station, I could barely get through my front door before having a martini just to take the edge of the day away. One martini became two followed by a pill to help me sleep without crying. It became difficult for me to get up in the morning because I began hating work. Now, I wake up early every morning just to watch the sunrise. And my martinis are occasional treats, not necessary stress relievers.
When I left my job someone said to me, “There will always be other jobs out there. The trick will be finding the one right for you, because it is you who matters most at the end of the day. The paperwork will always be there in the morning and you have to look forward to tackling it … unafraid.”
Jobs will always be stressful, lack of jobs will always be stressful, but in order to make either of those situations work, one must learn how to be happy. Happy with your talent, intelligence, and sense of who you are, because in the end you want to feel accomplished and proud and a good job will do that for you … when it finally comes along. In the meantime, I can still feel good about myself because I can wake up and go to sleep knowing I made the right choice. I have traded in the backstage pass for a sense of integrity, the celebrities for pride, and the all-access badge for renewed self-confidence. I’d say it was well worth it …