Confidence Wasted in the Recession

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It wasn’t until I was about 27 years old that I learned not to care. Sure, I didn’t care when I was in high school either, but that was a whole other species of apathy. Through writing and holding various jobs, I learned a person will always offend another, that a person can simply do the best they can, work hard, work honestly, and move on with their life. It was at the age of 27 when I began to think “If I’d known then what I do now…” without regretting the actual mistakes I made. Being able to honestly reflect, feel good about myself, and progress.

The only issue with feeling confident now is the void of professions. When I do something well, I feel like I glow with self assurance, striding past my competitors, moving above and beyond in my career. Only it’s all for naught, as I find myself barely above the same position I held when I was sixteen at Priceline.com.

College educated, masters degree under my belt, and at almost thirty I am a mere admin, hoping to earn a position as a copywriter, even a junior copywriter, in an attempt to get on some kind of path to enjoyment in my professional life. Since my degrees are in education, and there are less than zero job options in that field, I’ve found myself searching for a Plan B. I am thankful for the job I currently have, that I even have a job, but the company I work for reminds me each day that even doing your job exceptionally well is no guarantee that you’ll have a position in the morning. And to be able to write for a living would be the end all, be all for me.

So, now I exude confidence in my professional life, but do so while walking on a tight rope in a shaky job, applications for the future in one hand and a cup over flowing with the void of challenges in the other, in world where there are literally hundreds of applicants for a single position in which I have no actual experience. The drive and the ability are moot points when there’s no opportunity. And like so many right now, I find the shear act of hoping, the feigned attempts to stay positive, simply exhausting.

I took the Clinton Administration for granted. I was only a teen, but I should have been thankful then. On the day I learned that someone somewhere will always be offended was the same day I quit a job. And got a new one the very next day, just because I could. I was working phones in the customer service department at Reader’s Digest. A woman called in from a southern state to ream me a new one over the recent RD issue she had received. Reader’s Digest decided to dedicate an entire edition to Black History Month, and she was horrified by this. It was the first time I heard a racial slur, the really, really bad one, used outside of a film depicting the atrocities of eighteenth century slavery. And this woman wasn’t throwing the word around for historical flair; she meant it. I placed the woman on hold and went to my supervisor, a wonderfully calm middle aged black woman, to ask for guidance in handling the call. I watched my supervisor appease this wretched Southern Bitch with charm and sincerity that I myself almost believed. And I really did learn quite a bit in the few minutes sitting in that office. Upon finishing the call my supervisor kept me for a review of my work with the company thus far. I was doing very well, handled cases, even as a punk kid, with ease and professionalism. She then asked why I was there, why I was working for Reader’s Digest. She told me that at seventeen I was better than that place, that I could handle far more than taking calls, that I wasn’t fired, but that I was too young to be working a job that wasn’t fun or interesting. I was thankful, scared, in some way i felt I was in trouble, and yet I was fearless. I quit that job then and there and by early evening had an interview lined up for the following day. Within two days I had a new job. Simple as pie. I wonder if it will ever be like that again.

I also wonder if wanting to be… not “happy” necessarily, but content in my professional life is a fair request. Since when are people supposed to like what they do? Aren’t we just supposed to put our heads down, support our family, and if we don’t completely hate our jobs, then consider ourselves extremely fortunate?

My boyfriend is a social worker. He comes home and says things to me like “Only one call about dead babies today, honey!” or “I only had to write up two meth and rape reports this afternoon!”, so believe when I tell you I am well aware that I am professionally fortunate. It is simply that I’m at an age where I realize my potential, my abilities, and know what I want to do. There’s just no opportunity to prove myself.

I like the idea of having the option to possibly start a family in three to five years, but I wonder if I’ll be in a stable enough position to do so. It’s a scary world out there, my dad says. Very different and, in some ways, worse than the economic climate of the Great Depression, because we may not get much better in terms of job availability.

So, I guess, for now, I am here. Confidence or not.

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