The first prompt comes from Kat (@kljwm), who I started following this summer because she is another Twin Cities runner. She is remarkably funny, and never hesitates to tell it like it is at her blog, Tenaciously Yours.
Where it began: Review and reflect – how did 2012 begin for you? Tell us how the year kicked off; start your renewal by beginning again.
Unemployment. This has been a theme of my writing lately. I wrote a bit about it while I was unemployed but that was more “how I am wasting my time and keeping a happy face about it” and less. . . real. Less truthful. Although, I am not sure the truth about how that time affected me really came to light until many months later. It could be that I just needed the months to reflect, but more likely that it just took months to admit that things were not as okay as I wanted them to be. And I was not okay.
2012 began in a place of absolutely hopelessness. I felt like time was running out to find
my dream job a job in my field a job that used my skills and talent any job. I had just given one of the most creative presentations I had ever created for a second-round interview, including 28 hand-drawn posters, and still been turned down. In order to collect my unemployment check from the state, I kept being required to attend these horribly outdated classes on how to look for work and write your resume. They were all held in this poorly-lit office building and when you walked in you had to sign in to the online system. An armed security card escorted you to your computer corral. In one course, the instructor taught us how to use a Google search to look for jobs (I’m not kidding). Another class was called “Interviewing with Confidence,” which I thought was really fascinating. As a person who has never had much of an issue with under-confidence, it is hard to be confident after being treated a bit like a criminal simply for the fact that you are unemployed.
When I think back to that period of my life, I can hardly remember any of the events that occurred between October 24, 2011 and January 23, 2012. The whole experience feels dark and foggy. Heavy. My mind was heavy. My heart was heavy. I was unhappy. My sense of value and worth was remarkably damaged. I had this sudden and unshakable feeling that I was not actually good at anything and harbored a lot of anger about that– anger at myself, anger at my professors for not pushing me harder or perhaps for over-inflating my grades, anger at people who told me I had ‘all these talents.’ Really, unemployment brought out each of my worst characteristics in mean and ugly ways. It was like monsters under the bed, first just making their presence known and causing sleepless nights, to eventually following me everywhere. Monsters of Jealousy, Anxiety, Fear, Depression. And I unleashed them on those closest to me at every chance I had, simply to get them off my back for even an afternoon, hour, minute.
Friends, it was awful. And I was awful. And I felt awful about being awful which just got me stuck in an awful cycle of awful.
The last part of this prompt really strikes a chord with me: “start your renewal by beginning again.” Even though accepting a permanent job offer was easy and going to work was easy, climbing out from that place unemployment had dropped me to was much harder, and took much more than the promise of $19.33 an hour and a full benefits package. Renewal was not guaranteed simply because the new beginning had finally come along.
With time and pressure the caterpillar becomes a butterfly; the grain of sand, a pearl; and the coal, a diamond.