Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Working on Working

Okay, normally on the odd occasions I write something here I write about books because books are the thing I love most and the one thing that tends to stay front and center in my mind.  But lately thinking about new authors and the ways that favorites manage to never disappoint me has taken second stage to something that too many of us know too well.  That overwhelming feeling of not being able to find work.

I know I'm lucky.  I still live at home so I don't have rent to pay but I can see how my unemployment is affecting everyone else.  It used to be that my grandma and aunt could count on me to buy the extras that Grandma's social security just doesn't allow.  Every time I hear my grandma talk about how hard it's going to be to pay her property taxes this year I feel a little more helpless.  Every time I know that we won't be able to get a movie or TV show on DVD I feel a little more lost.  Every day that I try and fail to hear back about the dozens of resumes I've sent out I feel a little more overwhelmed.  They don't talk about how much you feel like you're drowning when you're unemployed.  They don't talk about how useless you feel.  How stupid you feel.  How completely ill-prepared to deal with the realities of the modern job market you feel.

Instead they politicize it.  And I'm tired of it.  Yes, I am what most people would probably call a liberal.  My beliefs lie strongly in the camp that we should help people out.  But I've asked for nothing.  Because other people need it more and I understand that but it doesn't lessen the fear.  It doesn't change the fact that I dread every day that goes by without an interview.  It doesn't make me feel any less stupid for not being able to do the things that are necessary to get the interview.

Because I still don't know what those things are.

There are innumerable rules in the modern job market. Resumes should only be one page long.  No, wait, they can be two pages long.  References should be included.  References should be a separate document.  You need a cover letter.  A cover letter isn't necessary.  You need to know someone who already works there.  There are jobs, people are just to lazy or too proud to take them.  There's a constant barrage of well intentioned people constantly telling you what to do, what to say, what to embellish and what to leave out.  All of the supposed rules make my head spin.

And so I try.  I try everything I can think of.  I change my resume.  I write a cover letter (even though I'm still not even sure what  a cover letter is).  I do everything that I can think of to make myself into the candidate that people want even though I still don't really know what it is that they want.

After fifteen years working in bookstores I want to make a change in my life.  I want to actually start saving money.  I want to eventually be able to travel, to buy a car, to take over the bills when I have to.  These are all eventualities that loom large over my head while I try to find something.  People tell me to take retail but retail doesn't want me because I can't work nights.  Offices don't want me because I don't have the necessary experience and training.  I could teach but I don't really want to.   And day by day time ticks by and I'm still here.  And I'm still trying and I'm no closer to work now than I was six months ago.

It's too bad that no one pays us to dream.  It's all I seem to be doing these days.

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