I believe I may have alluded to attempting to find new employment earlier this year. I am still in this process. Let’s just say that part of the reason nothing has worked out is due to the economy (likely, mostly to blame), but I must also take some of the blame.
I have always (usually) been a positive, optimistic person. I grew up seeing the good in everyone, and was, likely, sheltered. The only good thing I can say about my current employment is that I have shed the bulk of any naivete I may have had, and I have tremendously strengthened my backbone. Just a few years ago, I was easily wounded, emotionally. If someone looked at me cross-eyed, I would have perhaps not burst into tears, but I definitely would have spent countless hours trying to backtrack and figure out what I may have said or done to make someone want to look at me so meanly. Yes, I was that sensitive. Today, I certainly do not go out of my way to anger or hurt someone in any way, but I have a much more, let’s say, healthy way of going about in the world. So “healthy,” one might say, that I am bordering on cynical. This does make me somewhat sad, because there are so many things in life that did and do thrill me, interest me, make me laugh, make me sing, and just make me thankful for being alive. I still do feel. But this experience has also made me a more angry person, a less trusting person. And I do not want to be that.
I cannot give any specifics about my employment, but it is a very sad, dangerous place to work, emotionally. So not only do I feel like I’m stuck, in that I haven’t gotten out yet, but it’s worse: I’ve decided in the past few months to pursue an entirely different field, which requires prerequisites as well as more schooling (laugh, it’s OK; I did). Oddly enough, this is the first calling I had, even as a 5 year old. The beauty: I have made a decision, planned out the required debt repayment, education, complete with time line. The tragedy: I cannot start with anything I’ve planned until I’m out of this position. All of my plans are contingent upon me getting another job (literally, almost any job, even at a 30% pay cut), move to a particular area where the cost of living is much cheaper, and start taking classes while paying off my last credit card, and saving up for the time when I will not be able to work at all.
When I start to feel overwhelmed or sorry for myself, I try to make a practice of counting my blessings. I’m healthy, gainfully employed, can pay all of my bills, and live close enough to family that I can see them pretty much whenever I want to. I have health care, a retirement plan, and many other employer-funded benefits. I have two beautiful cats whom I love and cherish, I’m able to provide them with a very good life, if I don’t say so myself, including preventative care, pet insurance, healthy food, fresh water, toys, and a pet sitter for the times I go out of town more than one night. I have friends whom I love, family whom I treasure, and talents I am not deserving of. I have a roof over my head, light to read by, food in the cupboards, a car (paid for), all the appliances I need. I have been blessed with the education I have received, and the opportunities to travel and perform. I am conscious of a Being higher than myself, outside of time and space, whom I cannot begin to comprehend, yet whom I already do. And yet–
And yet all of this is inconsequential when one feels trapped. Caged. Smothered. Threatened.
Granted, it is NOT inconsequential, not at all. I can look at my list of blessings, I can even acknowledge every one. But the crushing a human soul feels as it’s confinement contracts, more and more, is greater than any blessing man can contrive. It overshadows all else.
I’ve been blessed enough to be busy with work, class, and life in general, so that I made putting out applications a general check-off list. It was something I had to do, so I did it, dutifully. But not as regularly as I should have or could have. Today, I hit a wall. Or broke through one. I’m not exactly sure what set it off. That signaled to me to look at not only WHAT I was doing, but HOW I was going about it. Am I putting in applications? Yes. Enough? Certainly not. So while I’m positive the economy is and will remain to be the #1 reason I have had such difficulty getting a position thus far, I know that a close #2 is myself. I can admit that.
I have spoken with trusted confidantes and they have helped me get back on the path I was previously on. They helped me ask myself the following questions:
Has anything changed from yesterday to today? – No.
Have your goals changed? – No.
Are you doing everything you can right here, right now, to reach your goal, no matter what step it may be in the larger plan? – Yes.
With that, I have been able to refocus. My plans haven’t changed. I have had to adjust a few things, and it’s possible my time line will be affected by 3-6 months, but in order to do anything, I have to get out. And getting out, as was made abundantly clear to me today, is the most important thing. For my sanity, for my mental and physical health, and for my soul.
Do I still feel trapped? Somewhat– but not in a soul-smothering way. More like a bird who has flown into some leaves and has been knocked to the ground, thankfully uninjured. I still know where I am trying to navigate to. I have the map in my head and on my heart. I have to get up, and find an open space wide enough for me to take flight once again. There is no if, only when.