So for those wanting the update on my life in Funemployment, I went back and did the math: last year I sent my resume out to 110 places (not including the resume “blasting” sites and networking and job fairs) and received only two interviews (one of which was a complete debacle on the part of the would be employer). You have to keep in mind, for the last twenty years, the lab job I had was the only place in the state that did what it did, so it’s not like there were a bunch of places to choose from. Plus, it was like spending twenty years in suspended animation: my how the lab tech landscape has changed in my absence. Which is fine, because I wanted to get away from science anyway as it wasn’t where my heart was to begin with.
Still, prolonged unemployment can lead to moments of worthlessness as so many of us are vested in what we do rather than who we are. For one thing, it can lead to “dark nights of the soul” as you wonder whether or not you have anything of value to offer anyone. For another, our work is where many people find their identity. My lab job wasn’t who I was, nor did it especially match my skillsets and inclinations. It did, however, pay the bills of my life and provided stability and security and that’s all many of us can ask for.
So as I’ve been plotting my future course, I’ve been walking a tension between being choosey and being pragmatic. It’s not like I don’t know that work is meant to be hard and often sucks, I just live in the hope that it doesn’t have to be draining. So it’s not so much being picky as much as tired of living in empty ways. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for to want to do something that makes a difference and matches my calling and gifts.
I am also quite cognizant of the fact that I have the luxury of using my free time to pursue being a full time writer. That’s the only way I’ve been able to knock out so many projects in the past year. But all freelance writers have “that date” where they can no longer sustain doing what they’re doing (that is, when the last job has come in, with none on the horizon, and bills threatening to overwhelm). I’ve also been setting up a non-profit organization that would come alongside other non-profit groups who work with at risk kids to expose them to the arts and help them find their creative voice/ways of expressing themselves.
That’s pretty much how I fill my days between turns at Scrabble, plus connecting with folks from our church community – which, I won’t lie, we’re all kind of spoiled on. With “that date” quickly approaching, I’m trying to wrap up as many projects as I can. Because I’m not too proud to start wearing a paper hat and asking “do you want fries with that?”