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An extended analogy [in honor of my graduating students who are facing the literal version of this…]

During a romantic dinner last week, the conversation naturally turned to the topic of infertility. Mr. Bunny asked me if infertility was part of my identity or just a thing that we went through. Definitely the former, for me. A lot of the experience has faded, but that’s partly because a lot of everything has faded. But a lot of it is still pretty vivid.

It was like an endless job search, I told him. Everyone around me had a job, and I really, really wanted one too. I’d see people hurrying off to work in the morning–I wanted to do that! And all the gear associated with jobs, like briefcases and office plants and employee IDs…I wanted all that crap. I’d look at pictures of charmingly colored Post-it notes online and cry. But when I’d tell people who had jobs about these feelings, they’d say that having a job isn’t so great, that they envied me my lack of job, that I must have such freedom! They just didn’t get it. I felt like a big part of me was just missing without a job. Honestly, I felt like some of them didn’t even deserve to have jobs, they seemed so resentful.

Occasionally I’d meet another jobless person, and we’d bond. But soon enough, she’d land a great job and I’d have to choose between being subjected to her endless enthusiastic ramblings about her new job, or never speaking to her again. It was so lonely being the jobless one.

And then there was the whole process of applying for jobs. I’d land an interview. I’d think I’d done everything right. The job was perfect for me! I was perfect for the job! I’d wait and wait for the call. What did they mean when they said they’d get back to me in “a couple” of weeks? Two? Three? Eight days? Ten? A thousand years would pass. Was my phone busted? I’d check it constantly, freak out every time it rang. Should I call them? I could probably find out now if I called. But I couldn’t bear to call and have the dream end. And then they’d finally send me a terse email. I didn’t get the job.

Not to worry. Another interview next month! Surely I’d get that job. But no. But another interview! Over and over and over.

And all the worrying about what I was doing wrong and all the useless advice about landing the right job… Just get a really snazzy suit! You’ll totally get a job with the right suit! Or You just need to think positive and not seem so desperate! Or If you don’t get it it wasn’t the right job for you anyway!

And it’s not like as you get older you get more competitive on the job market. The sense of intense urgency kept building. If I don’t get a job this year, I’m totally screwed, I’d think.

I honestly thought I’d never get a job. But I did. In fact, I have two fabulous jobs. But that experience of joblessness is part of my identity now, not just a thing I went through.



10 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh, sigh. It makes me happy to think of you and Mr. Bunny out having a romantic dinner.

    [2 posts in two days. SO happy about this! I love you, Bunny]

    The analogy is so apt. That feeling of being overlooked for any and all opportunities for a job. Every. Fucking. Time. That phrase that you repeat over and over to yourself: “I’m unemployable.” It’s a fact. You have been told at each interview. How do you get a job when you’re unemployable? That’s the mystery that makes each of our stories so great. Most of us got a job against many odds. But that deep-seated sense that the job(s) you got was a pure stroke of luck, and that being unemployable is who you are.

    P.S. I hope your students all get amazing jobs

    April 30, 2014
  2. SRB #

    Brilliant. There are few things I love as much as a perfect analogy. Perfect.

    April 30, 2014
  3. Great analogy. I must be crazy to take on both of those at the same time – although actually I really, really hope to resolve the infertility bit first.
    Glad that both are in the past for you, bunny. And that there are romantic dinners.

    April 30, 2014
  4. Well put. I am not sure that I will ever let go of what it took to get here, but now my three jobs keep my mind off of it. Sometimes but not often I think about what could have been if I got one of those earlier jobs I longed for. I’m guessing they wouldn’t be the three I have now.

    I’m glad you had a romantic dinner. I’m also glad to hear that you and Mr. Bunny have real conversations at dinner. I usually read cnn on my phone so it’s refreshing to hear of this talking thing. Gah.

    April 30, 2014
  5. Dude. Yes.

    I have been absolutely profoundly changed by infertility, even in terms of the intellectual/creative work that I do. It’s who I am now.

    May 1, 2014
  6. Yes. Akin in a way to growing up in poverty, maybe. In the case of my husband, now not poor, this is the need to have 5 litres of milk in the fridge at any one time, or the luxuriating in the feeling of security/counting coins like Silas Marner, and spending it like a loon, occasionally. It marks you. I suppose you have some say in how, but there’s certainly a permanent mark.

    May 1, 2014
  7. Really great analogy.

    May 1, 2014
  8. To echo your other commenters, this is great. I will probably use it in the near future to try and explain this experience to my husband/friend/family members. Don’t worry, I will verbally cite you as the source 🙂

    May 1, 2014
  9. Love this. I agree, it should be used as an example text that can be required reading for those struggling to understand the impact of this experience.

    May 8, 2014
  10. misfit #

    A friend called it the “post-graduation fumble.” I worked for a trash company reviewing security video to see if people were stealing, you guessed it, trash. It was better than no job, but only barely.

    May 20, 2014

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