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.