I’m very excited to restart this blog. I didn’t get very far the first go-around, but I was pleased with what I did accomplish. At the very least, it brought me joy to write creatively and sarcastically — something I don’t really have the opportunity to do very often. However, as much as I enjoyed writing, and saw myself keeping up with it given my plethora of spare time, the emotional pitfalls of unemployment caught up with me.
My boyfriend and I had a series of air-mattresses that we bought for guests but would leave inflated so the dog could look out the window (basically, every time I went to deflate it, she’d get on it and would look so happy I didn’t have the heart to take her little lookout spot away). They’d be fine for awhile, but then something would happen and I would come down the stairs in the morning and the mattress would be sagging, half deflated. I’d eventually replace it, but it would inevitably happen again a few months later. I hated those god damn air mattresses, and yet I saw myself in them.
I, too, was useful-ish — I could get the bare minimum done. I could run errands, apply to jobs, keep the house relatively clean, and walk the dog. But inevitably, I too would deflate. I would watch obscene amounts of TV, cry, and essentially cease being functional. I took up space. People would attempt to repair the leak with good or bad advice, helpful or useless words of encouragement, and genuine or insincere empathy. But like those dumb mending kits that come with inflatable air mattresses, it only slowed the damage. I’d re-inflate for spurts in order to churn out more applications, only to sag and wither upon receipt of rejection after rejection.
I couldn’t be cheered up by nights out with friends because it exhausted me to pretend that unemployment wasn’t slowly crushing me. It tends to stop conversation when your response to, “How’s the job hunt” is ,”Every ounce of self-esteem I used to have about my skills and talent vanished so long ago that I no longer remember what it’s like to feel confident and competent. Also unacceptable is answering, “What have you been up to?” with, “Applying to jobs and wondering if I even deserve to shower.”
I started to realize that the second question everyone asks after meeting you is, “What do you do?” Living in a new place, it’s a question that came up so much that I had my answer in reserve:
— Oh, I’m a librarian by training, but I’m just volunteering while I look for a good fit. (See what I did there? I’m making it look like I’m the one being picky, like I’m just saying no to all these offers because I’d rather be a good Samaritan and work for nothing until my dream job lands in my lap, acceptance letter delivered via hummingbird.)
But in actuality, I would rather have answered with:
— I exist. Professionally.
–I listen to podcasts and sad music. Professionally.
I remember it was even suggested to me multiple times that I should think of changing careers. Which is cute, because I hadn’t even started THIS career yet. But sure, let me go to my underground vault where I store an extra three years and $60,000 in a glass case labeled “in case of job emergencies, break glass and enroll in GuaranteedJobs University and get a Masters in High Paying Yet Rewarding Work.” Gosh, if only I’d done that the FIRST TIME AROUND.
Needless to say, I found it enormously difficult to write. I think some depressed people find that creative endeavors enable them to cope. But I just found writing to be one more area in which I felt like a failure.
Though much, much, much, much later than initially anticipated, I did, eventually, find a job. And not just a “bide my time until I can find something better” job, but a job that actually feels like a career that will give me lots of great skills, with nice people who have been nothing but welcoming.
I suppose I always knew that getting a job wouldn’t be the solution to all of my problems. While it certainly helped me feel less useless and less guilty about every dollar I spent, I thought I would go back to feeling like a proud, contributing hard worker much quicker than I have. In a society that prizes careers and being busy above so much else, being unemployed and full of free time made me feel not only depressed and insecure, but ashamed. And those feelings just don’t vanish overnight.
Don’t get me wrong — I realize that I was incredibly fortunate. My boyfriend took on the bulk of our financial burdens and dealt with me despite my piss poor attitude, I had money saved, and my parents offered me amazing financial and emotional support. But as someone who once burst into tears after getting my very first “B” on a paper in college (and subsequently haunted that professor’s office hours and spent weeks drafting, proofing, and editing the next paper to make sure I never got a “B” EVER again, because I’m healthy like that), finding myself unable to secure employment of any kind, let alone in my field, was essentially my worst nightmare. It left me nothing in the ole’ self esteem reserve.
So I suppose this is a rather long apology, primarily to myself, for dropping the ball on doing something that made me smile. As it’s the end of the year, it’s only appropriate to resolve to blow the metaphorical dust off this blog, and try, once again, to chronicle the adventures of my beloved Wishbone and his undeserving dipshit of an owner, Joe.