“So, what do you do for a living?”
Over the past six months, this innocuous inquiry from new friends and dates has managed to make me panic into silence or caused me to ramble nearly incoherent replies about my current jobless situation. Sometimes, depending on my mood that day, I’ve wanted to just succumb to a crying fit on the spot.
When networking professionally, I’ve somehow managed to keep my cool – telling officials in my field about my current search and how I am looking for the opportunity that will best align with my long-term career goals. I smile and put my “optimistic, encouraged” face forward…hoping that they will remember me if a position opens in their organization.
Before now, I always did something meaningful. In college, I completed two journalism internships and also worked for a hotel chain. After graduation, I was employed as a community reporter before moving on to corporate healthcare communications. I seemed to be on an upward path to achieving enduring success before the life I spent years building crumbled into a blur of instability.
I never used to be this afraid of the future. Now? I’m terrified that I will have to move back in with family when my lease ends. I don’t know what I will do when my unemployment funds run out. How will I pay my bills? My student loans?
The unrelenting auto-rejections and, worse, the resounding silence from employers as response to my stream of job applications is incredibly defeating. But for the most part, I’ve tried to appear positive even when my gut is in knots. I still go out with friends and put my happy-face on. I still wake up each morning and attempt to bring some semblance of a routine to my day. I still truck on with the job-board pursuit and applications and cover letters and follow-up inquiries.
One day, this state of being will end and I will have a fulfilling job again. Nothing ever stays constant in life – and that’s the consideration I’ve kept close at hand during my darkest hours of sadness.
So what do I do for a living? I’ll tell you soon.