Saturday, February 3, 2007
Just say "No": The new battlecry of the unemployed.
Today I woke up at 6:30am feeling perky, but with no place to go. I oftentimes find myself waking up or feeling sleepy at strange hours, hankering for food served only in a certain area of the city, and wanting to dress myself completely inappropriately for my day's errands. That's the downside of temping; the anxious feeling of being uncertain who's life I'll be living on any given day. Even worse is sometimes feeling afraid to live my own life as it is--formless--when I haven't any assignment.
As cliche as it is, our jobs really do define us. And when you have no permanent job...well, it's really up to you and how you wanna look at things. You can identify your lack of a position as the possession of infinite possibilities and feel totally liberated by this or you can see your lack of a position as the possession of infinite possibilities and feel totally fucking afraid. I tend to feel the later. Without the shackles of a job, I have no one to blame for my life not being the way I want it to. No longer can I blame The Man when I haven't blogged for days, crafted any new creatures for weeks, drawn for months, gone to the gym in a year, ever remembered to take my vitamins, or done whatever other thing I need/want to do.
Of course, it's ridiculous for me to believe that I'd be on top of all that just because I am without a regular 9-5 but how am I to convince myself of this when it's the story I've been telling myself since I was an angsty, artsy teenage just dying to burst through the shackles of Catholic school, my mom, and poverty? I don't know how to live without this tale, without this dichotomy of various social structures and institutions as my oppressor and myself as the oppressed. Here I am with a spare 8 hours a day, the support of a loving partner who looks after my needs, good friends, and wonderful companion animals, but I still ain't livin' the dream. What gives?
(Note: For those who've never been without work and have no reference point for thses feelings, view About Schmidt to get a basic idea of what I'm going through.)
I'm slowly realising that The Man keeping me from doing all those things I think I want/need to do is myself. So far it's been a very painful thing to understand. Perhaps the worst part is that I'm coming to find that I may be very different than the person I've been imagining myself as and attempting to cultivate. There's the very real possibility that a lot of the things that I thought I've just been putting off or been kept from doing are actually things I really don't have any desire for.
I don't wanna stay up all night writing about my feelings so I'll cut to the chase--Being unemployed (for me at least) is an exercise in saying "No". Saying "No" to the personal myth that being jobless is the ultimate freedom. Saying "No" to all the people who think that your time belongs to them "since you're not doing anything else." Saying "No" to those things you really thought you wanted to accomplish, those things that seemed like a good idea at the time, but aren't anymore (or maybe never were).
It's been hard for me to say no. My knee-jerk reaction is always to give people the answer they yearned for. I always wanted to say "Yes "and be positive and affirmative. But now I'm finding that if I say "No" or "I'm not sure" I actually give myself the opportunity to consider my priorities and think about what I'd like to be doing. Saying "No" isn't about my doing less; it's about my becoming more purposeful in every action. This is really scary since I hate to disappoint my friends and family, but I like to think it's something I have to go through to grow up and into the wonderful, sassy lady I'm meant to be.