Pacifying the unemployment monkey with a to do list

Knowing I'm not the only one with a screeching monkey on her back is small measure of comfort on an overcast Monday afternoon. Please, I can't be the only one having problems getting her act together.




This morning, I turned off the alarm at 7:30 a.m., woke up my 10th grader for school, reminded her to dress appropriately for the morning drizzle, and flung myself back to bed. The next time I regained consciousness, the clock's horrifying display read "10:30," though thankfully, a.m., not p.m. At first I thought our electricity might have died as a result of last night's thunderstorm, but no such luck. The entire morning was practically gone.

And here I had plans to send out resumes, make phone calls, check my email, and do a stint of friend networking. Not.

Unemployment. That annoying festering simian who can't tell  the difference between my back and a bunch of bananas. Somebody ought to tell the little beast there's a vacancy down in Druid Hill Park. A pimped-out cage with his name on it. Welcome home, Cheeta.

The problem is, I'm not entirely sure I want to go back to work. Lord knows, we could use the money. On the other hand, it's not like we can't put food on the table or pay for our basic necessities. Having lived without extras for most of my formative childhood, material things don't matter as much as they might to other people. I have no problem passing on the latest high-tech or fashion craze, creature comforts, or whatnots. And I'm not sure I want to pass on more enticing endeavors like fixing up the house, writing the next great novel, or volunteering for the the needy so that I can work five days, or best case scenario, three days a week part-time to earn a few extra dollars.

Is it worth going back to the daily grind? Honestly, I don't know. It's not easy being stuck between a rock and a dark hollow place of undefined expanse.

The other problem is, I feel like I could re-enter the workplace any time I want. All I have to do is get my big behind in gear and make it happen. I never had a problem finding work before. Why should I have any problem now? Well, to be honest, there's this huge part of me that's afraid of rejection. Competition in the work force has become fierce and my self-promotion skills aren't what they used to be. I'm older and definitely not as polished as say, some bright, young, intelligent go-getter fresh out of college. How is my current persona going to translate to prospective employers?

Self-doubt, over confidence, and projects I ignored for a thousand years to work and raise a family. The perfect storm. Recently, my dark hollow expanse became so overwhelmingly and self-defeating, I decided to pull myself up from my bootstraps by making a list. A list of everything I want to do -- nay, have to do -- before I can feel comfortable devoting every single waking moment toward finding the next great job. It's long and may take until the summer to complete, but that's okay. In a way, it's kind of comforting because its length means I'm not simply fettering my life away on useless meaningless pursuits while delaying the inevitable. I'm rolling up my sleeves and getting stuff done. Even if I'm not getting paid, it doesn't matter because somebody has to put a fork in this stuff.

If not me, then who? Certainly not my career-driven husband who thankfully is gainfully employed. Hey. It's not like we're independently wealthy. Someone has to keep our bank accounts in the black.

In the back of my mind, I keep telling myself it's okay to hold out for the perfect job, whatever that may be, as I cross each item off my lengthy To Do List. At this point in my life, I want a job doing something meaningful, something truly satisfying. Write. Teach. Make a difference in the world. By the same token, I also want the freedom to take care of my family. Somewhere out there, I know there's a job that will let me balance the two and feel like my work matters. Eventually, I will find the inner strength and fortitude to send badgering Cheeta on his way.

Until then, list item #22, shredding our old tax documents, beckons.

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