via ElsaGold

18 March 2009

(Methinks the precision with which she writes is excellent.)

The Worst Part about being Unemployed and Looking

I think I’ve hit it.

The worst part about being Unemployed and Looking is …

Feeling that I am a burden to others.

I’m pretty positive that people don’t look at me and think, “Oh God! It’s The Burden! Not The Burden! Away, stay away!” I believe that most people understand what I should also understand: that our modern world has some obligations to the next up-and-coming generation (the “Millennial Generation,” they call us) built into it. Most jobs require references, sometimes several. What’s more, a basic level of courtesy is expected in social interactions. And yet, I always feel uncomfortable when I call or email people to ask them for their time-to ask whether they could answer just one more question. Should I focus on getting answers? Or do I perform an unnoticed act of politeness by keeping myself out of their life, thus sparing them from another pressure on their time?

This is a problem. Because not only is cold calling one of the pillars of the journalistic practice that I mostly enjoy, but because it has become abundantly clear to me that “networking” and “connecting” and “knowing people” is really. freakin’. important. You gots to know people if you want to work with them.

The world is full of smart, connected, interesting people with stories, and what I want most to meet them and share their experiences. But how do I do that without feeling as if I am a cockroach who gorges myself on their valuable time and institutional knowledge, clinging to it for sustenance? What can I give to them besides my indebtedness? And how can I become a legitimate person in their eyes? If Harvard ingrains anything, it’s a deep sense that you’re not a person unless you’re a really fucking “important” one. I’ll probably spend a few good minutes every day trying to shake off that one, so I can carry on living my life, without that distracting neurosis.

The life I live now is taking out credit on the future, when I can give back to all the people who are giving me job advice and buying me coffee because I have no income, and to the people whose couches I’m crashing on as I tour the potential workplaces of my future. Thank you notes seem pretty pathetic in comparison, but that’s all I’ve got at this point. So until you receive my thanks in print, thank you, everyone I have spoken to so far. My sister once blogged about how the Japanese have one word-Sumimasen-that means both Thank You and Sorry. I need that word now.

And then-this I know-I need to just get over feeling like a sorry, useless sack of dirty laundry, because these feelings are not going to stop me from trying to find a personally meaningful job that I can enjoy. It’s just another neurosis, after all-part and parcel of the modern world.

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