…is not a good idea, right?
First off, I’m a little afraid of heights. Not conventionally, though. I’m more afraid of the heights that you aren’t strapped in for. Like bungee-jumping or rock-climbing or the Tower of Doom – pish! No big deal. Because there’s a harness and rope or some newfangled seat locking mechanism that are holding me in. Bridges or tall buildings? No big deal. That’s why there are railings. But free-falling at some crazy fast speed, plummeting towards the ground, just hoping this large sack on your back filled with some sort of perfectly tailored synthetic material will first off actually open and then slow you down enough that you don’t splat face first on an unforgiving patch of ground? Not so much.
I am not a fan.
And considering how much I like metaphors, I’m going to relate this to my current life status. I graduated from college and had a summer of draining my bank account and adventuring before jumping into a 50+ hour a week internship wrangling high school students (and my co-workers). When the internship ended this past August, I had a long and daunting week of “funemployment” (which really just included me hardcore stressing out to the max and dogsitting this precious pup named Maple) before changing my status to “funderemployed.” Aka I got a job at a coffee shop. Working like 25 hours a week. And as entertaining as it is to tag that “f-” on the front of those words, it still doesn’t quite change the amount of suckyness wrapped up in both of those terms.
Yes, being “funemployed” or “funderemployed” means that you have a lot of extra time on your hands. But it is also accompanied by such intense self-doubt, moments of utter hopelessness and total discouragement, kind attempts at comforting words by friends, and the overall umbrella feeling of being completely bi-polar. Don’t get me wrong – I am honestly just thankful to have a job of any kind. But there is something so unbelievably irritating about discovering that the only job that I can really get is one that I don’t even need a college degree to do. So why the heck did I have my parents spend all that cash so I can do something I don’t need any amount of college to do?! It’s the worst. I feel like the worst investment.
And the part that makes all of this harder is that everyone has an opinion about what you should do next. But what I’m learning (the hard way) is that there is not a prescribed “1-2-3-employment!” type rubric roaming around out there. I’m discovering it has way less to do with what you are capable of and way more to do with either who you know or how well you can talk the talk. And I am also discovering that I am completely ignorant of the language the professional world uses. Like saying something like: “When I was doing email-blasts for this emerging market, I was able to multiply sales by 35%.” Can someone please explain to me what the heck that means?? Or who thought that a group interview would ever be a good idea? Someone please help me out here.
As a senior in college, I went to this seminar at a conference that recommended picking up a copy of What Color Is Your Parachute? and as I have been skimming it and starting to sort through some of the questions it brings up, the more I am realizing that this phase of life is more similar to jumping out of an airplane than anything else. For the first time in my life, there’s no plan for me. There is no official path I’m supposed to follow, no timeline to adhere to. I am free-falling face first into the adult world and I’m pretty sure there’s no fluffy cushion waiting down on the ground to break my fall. I have bills to pay, health insurance pre-conditions to worry about, a new wardrobe to accomodate into my jeans-and-tshirt filled closet, a brand new schedule, and all these new things that I honestly have no idea how to handle. I had a budget through college, but when I was basically just budgeting my food money and what I paid for with my free time activities while my parents (or, more specifically, my college fund) covered the big ticket items like rent and tuition, when it comes to real costs, I really have no idea how to do this. I am in way over my head in the practical side to surviving my crash course in the real world.
So now, like so many of my peers, I live in my mother’s basement. Because being “funderemployed,” while still potentially better than being “funemployed” and completely penniless, doesn’t really seem like that much of a step up. Making $8.50 an hour less than 30 hours a week just doesn’t give you a ton of margin to try and pay rent and health insurance and car insurance and food money and gas and still try to support your little Save the Children child in Egypt for $28 a month. The numbers just don’t add up the way they should. And I’m not saying that being on a tight budget isn’t a good thing in some ways – it’s just another area where it becomes so apparent that I don’t trust God to provide and I feel woefully unprepared and inadequate for how to be a good steward of the money I do have.
And some moments I am so thankful for this season – I have gotten to sift through so many false expectations of myself, come face to face with how entrapped I can become in comparison, and spent time and had conversations with people I would have never thought I’d ever encounter. In fact, I’m coming to realize that (in true metaphoric tradition) this feeling of free falling is pretty much what my whole experience of Christian faith has been like. I think that I can work my way to a particular outcome, that I could control my path or micromanage my future as if I’m bungee-jumping. It’s scary for a second, but not really because I know I have this rope holding me in (myself, my control, my plan, my power). But in the midst of the job search, I have literally done everything I know to do. I have gone to career fairs, to networking meetings, to career counseling at my college, reached out to random people, have done group interviews, one-on-one interviews, rewritten my resume literally 80-million times, and have gotten cover letter writing pretty much down to an art. And it still feels like I am no where closer to a “big girl job” where I actually need a college degree than I was my senior year of college. But this is where the whole Christian-life comparison has come in for me: When I can do nothing more or all of my work continues to fail, the only thing that I can actually do is trust Jesus. Because it’s by His power and in His timing and according to His will (not mine) that anything will come about.
So I’m thankful – I feel privileged for this season, as full to the brim with total suckyness as it has been. Because in the midst of absolute doubt, in the absolute pits of hopelessness, in the bristling anger and resentment in comparison and feeling as if God has just forgotten me, He makes this promise: I will be with you. And that, for me, is starting to be enough.