Anxiety Digest, 8/20

Here’s the view from the empty side of the glass: I’m worried I’ll never get a professional job.

I’m supposed to be patient and resilient right now. This recession is a temporary, extraordinary circumstance, my mom tells me. Once the economy rebounds, I’ll get a job, the world will be introduced to my incredible assets, and financial security will cease to be one of my problems.

But I’m resistant to this reading of our current situation, because everything I did pick up in my damned schooling has taught me that capitalism’s big adjustments carry a lasting price. Manufacturing closes down, businesses move elsewhere, giant corporations tighten their grip while the small competitors bite the dust. What if things don’t return to normal, and we just have to get used to the new normal? For some people the Depression never ended, and with every recession the numbers of a permanent lower class swell. There are people who won’t ever experience a recovery from this recession. Maybe I’m one of them.

Missing out on the professional-class life (one I’ve always foolishly assumed was in the cards) frightens me for three reasons. First, I dread the thought of working in food or retail again. Those jobs were unbearable enough the first five times–I don’t think I could stand to do them for the rest of my life. The moment I took one of those jobs, I would know that my life was over–I would be locked into my living space and my location.

Second, I’d be embarrassed, because most of the people I knew in college are becoming pretty successful. It would prove one of my deepest fears–that I’ll never amount to anything.

Third, I’m disturbed by what the fear itself means about me as a human being. Who am I to sniff at a job? Why do I think I deserve an enjoyable one? Am I looking down on the people who do serve these jobs? Have I written them off, as I fear others would write me off in their place? Why don’t I devote more thought to them and their problems? One last nagging question: why can’t I appreciate that some people actually do like these menial jobs?

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1 Response to “Anxiety Digest, 8/20”


  1. 1 kathy August 29, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Being laid off in 2002 was a horrid blow to me at the time but turned out to be a blessing. We place too much value on credentials and material success in this society. The best work I’ve done has been free. The best times I’ve had have been with artists and poets outside of work. I think, tho, that I can better appreciate the position I’m in now because I’ve had that ten years in the rat race as an engineer. (I am doing web design now, but only ten hours a week, so I have time for my own projects.)

    It is unfortunate that you are looking for work in such hard times. Best of luck. I don’t want you to feel bad, but I realize you have your own process to go through.

    RE looking down at people–we’re all human–don’t blame yrself too much for having uncomfortable feelings. We stew in error and innocence. It IS a process, living and learning! I like to hope we become more humane, and more forgiving of ourselves, too.


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