Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rilke and Unemployment

I didn't get another job I wanted. If someone had taken all my greatest passions and all my skills, then designed a matching position, this one would have been it.

But no. I knew within two days of the interview, when they hadn't yet called my references.

I've made job application my priority for a long time now. Years. Yet, nada. Okay, that's an exaggeration. I have three part-time jobs, but even together, they aren't enough to live on. So...

The last time this happened was when I gave up on getting a research job in my science. I'd been on the job market for three years without an offer, although that wasn't a reflection on me. There were maybe five openings a year in the United States and 200 plus decent candidates. The average PhD spent ten years post-degree before landing a permanent job. I was actually doing better than most having had several interviews.

But it felt like I was running head-first into a brick wall expecting it to vanish. I'd slam my head, fall to the ground, then get up and do it again. Over and over and over. After three years, my bruised brain and butt had had it.

As soon as I turned away from research, I got every job I ever applied for. It seemed that the universe had other ideas for me than to use my degrees in the obvious way.

So is the universe sending me a message, now?

The only other direction available would be to put all my job search energy into writing and marketing my writing.

Big risk. Very scary.

So I think about Rilke who wrote in Letters to a Young Poet that writers need to decide if they must write to live. If yes, then they should stop whining about the difficulties and "build [their] life in accordance with this necessity."

I made a decision fifteen years ago to put my creative voice first - even if it meant giving up a tenure-track professor position. But somehow, I kept reneging on that commitment.

Perhaps, the universe has decided not to give me a choice.

Which leaves me to explore the difficulties.