Guest Post the Fourth

I’d like to thank Jen for affording me the opportunity to post this on her page, as it’s something that’s been eating at me and I haven’t felt entirely comfortable posting on my own. Plus, we all know Jen’s the greatest and that she has wonderful readers. Then again, Jen adopted me eons ago, so she’s sort of obligated to let me post this, right?

I started college in September 2005. I graduated in May of 2008 with my bachelor’s degree. I began grad school that fall, and I graduated with my master’s degree this past January. For those following along, I managed to complete my undergrad and grad degree in four and a half years (and, no, it wasn’t a joint BA/MA program; I received my MA in an entirely different field).

The above information leads you to make any number of assumptions, most of which are probably true and border on being simultaneously flattering and unflattering, but it probably doesn’t lead you to immediately conclude “unemployed!”

This is where the slightly sadistic side of me wishes she could snarkily follow that up by saying, “And you’d be right.”

(Ssssssssss.)

(Sorry, just realized that was alliterative. I like alliteration, and the placement of it was perfect up there, like a snake poised to attack. (Incidentally, this is the tragedy of being a logophile–few people appreciate it quite like you, and most never notice.))

I can’t, though. I’ve been navigating the trepid waters of The Unemployed and Searching for the Perfect Joba Well-Paying Joba Decently-Paying Job… a Paying Job. Since January. I’ve been trying to maintain my composure, optimism, and faith in the process. Which is to say that I’m trying to be like Job looking for a job. Which is to say I’m attempting to ignore every emotional response and at least 37% of my thoughts.

While still applying to jobs, praying for a break, trying to pay bills, and still putting food on the table.

It’s working out really well for me.

I’ve been getting very sporadic work through a temp agency since April, and–miracle of miracles–I happened to have a one-day assignment yesterday. While I was unreservedly pleased with the opportunity to make money, I found myself anxious and upset. It was a poignant reminder that this seemingly normal occurrence of going to an office was a fleeting one for me. I wouldn’t be going back. The only place I would be going back to was my apartment where I’d lounge around in my pyjamas searching for and applying to job postings while fervently wishing I could be getting up before the sun so that I, too, could go to an office every day.

I know I’m not supposed to take it personally–it’s the economy, not me–but honestly? It can be hard not to, especially if you’re not used to failure. (We can argue the use of that word later.) Nine months of it hasn’t made it any easier to swallow. Neither does the fact that I’m deemed capable of being brought in for a day to learn someone’s job in minutes, perform it satisfactorily, and yet not be suitable or experienced enough for most of the positions I’ve been applying to. Salt, meet wound.

And that is why I was feeling particularly anxious and maudlin yesterday as I traveled to my assignment.

However, as I was walking through the subway, I passed by a man who smelled almost exactly like my brother–my six-years-older-than-me big brother who lives back in Indiana, 1000 miles from Boston–and I smiled. It was such a small, random thing, but it was enough. It was a reminder of the good. I felt comforted, and my anxiety lifted and my mood improved.

That stayed with me throughout the day. I had a wonderful time at my day assignment, and I unexpectedly received another assignment at my alma mater for the remainder of this week and possibly into next. It’s still not My Job, but at least I’m bringing in some income (that will hopefully help solve the problem of where I’m going to get rent and grocery money for this month) and I get to wake up before the sun so that I can be here by 9.

I don’t know if it’s latent grace from giving up complaining for Lent a few years ago or whether it’s foolish optimism my natural inclination to believe that things will work out simply for the fact that they have to, but I’m… okay. At least in this moment.