This is What

I had a job interview Monday — a reporter position for a local newspaper conglomerate-thing. It is the first job that felt correct that I’ve applied to in a while. It is the first journalism job I’ve taken a stab at in a while, too.

From feelings of elation afterward, judging from what felt like a good interview, a rapid decline meant that Tuesday I woke up with a sense of horrible dread. I knew, knew, that I wasn’t going to get the job. It just seemed suddenly clear and obvious. Not for any real reason — just because. I pulled my laptop into bed and watched several hours of Netflix. I turned over and tried to go back to sleep. I put on a hat and went to the grocery store, unwashed. I bought $25 worth of food, half-conscious. Cookies, frozen stuff, bagels. I came home and ate cookies, tried to sleep again. I left my bed in order to get up and watch more television. Tried to sleep. More Netflix in my bed, more cookies. I called in sick.

When D. came home, I looked like a zombie. “I feel like I’ve been dumped,” I explained. “By my life.”

Thus has this week unraveled, a slow, unproductive, depressive slog. No word about the interview: I have not even necessarily not gotten the job, but I also somehow know it to be so. Efforts feel devoid of purpose. Any quality I might have feels useless. It is the cycle of career, for me. Inspiration and hope — thinking I might have found something — give way to despair. Every time.

I have somehow gotten it into my head along the way that there are only a few set ways to do things, and this is at the core of my struggle, I think. My daily, operational brain has lost all sense of creativity. I have come to see the only valid job as a 9-to-5 gig marooned in front of a screen or bogged down in meetings, which is absurd as I’m not really dying to be in that situation. All I want are options. And what I feel, in my state of uncreative rigidity, is the rapid depletion of all my options.

It was always my plan to get a job and then sort through my options. Now I work in a bookstore, I have free time, and I spend it either applying to jobs I (generally) don’t actually want or attempting to manage my anxiety by wasting time and distracting myself. I am doing nothing particularly novel.

It is purely insane. All that I actually want to do is write — and yet, I’m caught up in some kind of validation machine, needing to feel that I’m useful in some way, as if data entry or assisting someone could really fulfill me. I rarely even write, which DOES satisfy me, because I’ve placed this depressing job hunt at the center of my existence. I am the epitome of confused. I am chasing a lifestyle I don’t really even care about. I have lost capacities and qualities and perspectives I do care about in the process.

The strangest thing is that I’m so resistant to what feels most natural. Such is the extent that I have learned to sublimate that which I actually care about, apparently.

Whew: this is confessional. Not all that scrappy, not well-organized, but confessional. I’m sorry, those of you who wanted to read something. This is not happy. But I might be figuring things out, prioritizing; I’m never down (or up) for too long. I like change too much.

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2 Responses to This is What

  1. Ty says:

    Why don’t you self-design a writing retreat for yourself? That sounds fun. I would go with you if I could~!
    I remember feeling a lot like that when I was working – the whole pursuit of a goal that I didn’t really have thing. Projects help. Make a project~! Do another self-designed NaNoWriMo or maybe just a EmWriWee or something – or EmWriDay. I wish we could go on another train day.

  2. Gina Gazic says:

    making a certain amount of *disposable income* might help your mood a lot. Seriously consider a temp agency, and tell them you’re interested in no less than $12/hr and only a 9-5 gig. Then let them do the work of finding you something. You interview only with the temp agency, not for the positions they offer you. And the temp agency wants to take you; the more people they place the more money they make. I know it doesn’t feel like a solution to the big problem of a permanent job, but it would be $3/400 more dollars a month and more flexibility in your social life, which may make you happier, which may come through in interviews. 🙂

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