Monday, March 02, 2009

Not human

I'm sitting here wanting to write something but find unsure what to say. At any given moment, I seem like a totally normal, happy person. I pay my bills, run errands, watch tv, cook, clean, chat with friends, eat, play with the neighbor's cat, and search for jobs. But when I stop to take in my surroundings and think about who I am, there's nothing there. I'm just going through the motions of what I'm supposed to be doing.

There are many things that make up our identity. Cancer patients, women especially, go through incredible anguish because of the hair loss associated with chemotherapy. It's strange how thousands of strands of dead cells are so strongly tied to image and identity.

One of the key components of identity for people is their job. I have now been unemployed for four months. It's now equivalent to the time I spent looking for a job after grad school. This time, however, it's harder because I'm more established, more experienced, and more specialized. My expectations for income and responsibility are different as is the willingness of employers to hire me. There are few jobs in my expertise right now. As much as I like what I do, I wonder whether or not my industry has a stable, long-term future in this part of the country. Each day that passes, I question how much longer I should continue to search for something in my current profession versus shifting to something else. The upside is that I may have more flexibility in finding a job. The downside is that I will have to take a significant pay cut and potentially start with a job that is not stimulating. The struggle between taking a job for the income versus taking a job that will build a career is a frustrating choice. I don't feel like I can have both in this economic environment. The fact of the matter is that I don't know whether my career profile reflects who I want to be.

Not having a job didn't seem to bother me so much when I thought I was pregnant. I think it was because I knew that I had the role of mother to play. Being a mother is a huge responsibility that I know would be challenging, frustrating, yet fulfilling. I didn't worry so much about my unemployment because the time off would be used to make things better for the baby. But now that there is no baby, that part of my identity has been taken away (at least for awhile). True, I am still a wife, but frankly Tim would be fine without me. It adds to who I am, but I don't feel it defines any part of me.

They say being unemployed is an opportunity to do something for yourself. The truth is that it's scary for me because I realize I have no interest in pursuing anything. Everything sounds interesting, but I lack the motivation to do anything or I talk myself out of it because my interest is not financially sustainable (coming from the Asian perspective). What's wrong with me? I know I'm smart and responsible. Nothing I did contributed to this current economic crisis. I know I have many unique skills, but I have no idea what to do with myself. I feel so worthless when I see my friends are doing fine. While I know it's not reality, inside, I wonder if I've done something wrong in my life to end up here. I'm a logical person, and I need a logical reason to explain what is happening. Of course, there probably isn't any explanation that is going to satisfy my frustration and questions. I feel totally lost, and I need to do something to feel like a human being again and not just some automaton.

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