262,800 minutes.

It’s after midnight, which means as of right now I’ve been officially unemployed for six months. Half a year. I’d been lying in bed for at least a half hour thinking about that realization before climbing out to fetch my computer and deal with the feelings the same way I’ve ever dealt with anything, by writing about it. I’m not sure how much the writing will help tonight, though, because the six month mark is hitting me hard. If you’d asked me back in September if I thought it would take this long, there’s no way I would have said yes. Even when I moved home in November, I thought it was a waste of energy and would be packing up and moving back out in no time. I’ve now been here for four months.

In the past six months, I have written at least 37 cover letters. I’ve had 20 interviews in four different cities and countless informational meetings and phone calls. You might find this to be impressive. I find it to be frustrating, that after all of this work, all of the talking about myself and my experience, all of the attempts to network and do the right thing and have people tell me I’m doing the right thing, and I still have no job to show for it.

I watched The Dark Knight Rises last weekend, and at one point Bane says, “without hope, there is no despair.” Well, without interviews, there isn’t disappointment. There is no worse feeling than knowing you aced an interview, that you were confident in every single answer you gave, only to be told it wasn’t enough. There are no crueler words in the English language right now for me than “internal candidate.”

The last rejection I received – after coming out of the interview feeling that there was no way I could have done better, that there was no was I could be more qualified – was the hardest blow I’ve suffered, and I haven’t recovered. I feel like a balloon that someone has popped. I’m completely deflated. I don’t have any energy anymore. I can’t physically bring myself to type another cover letter, to make another phone call, to answer another question about my career.

I’ve never felt like such an utter failure in my entire life. Going through divorce was easier than this. At least then I knew I was without fault. Now, I over-analyze every word, I constantly wonder what I could have done better or differently, and not just during interviews or applications – should I have answered that one differently? was there something in my teeth? did they google me, do I tweet too much, did they read this blog? – but during the job I was let go from, wondering if somehow I could have prevented myself from being a casualty.

When I’m not sad, I’m angry. I’m angry at the company I used to work for, I’m angry at the people who still work there, and I’m angry at the people elsewhere who won’t hire me. Because I’m a really good employee. I have never received a poor review in my life. I have excellent communication skills, I’m great with computers, I love giving presentations, and I am impeccably organized. I work hard and I rarely complain about it. And dammit, I’m smart. I know what I’m doing, and if I don’t, I learn it quickly.

And I love to work. I am craving it right now.

I haven’t gone this long without working since my early high school days, and it is killing me inside. I feel like I have no purpose in the world, aside from bringing you votes on fictitious characters, which is fun and all, but it’s not the most fulfilling work. It’s not like I was curing cancer or anything, but at the end of the day I felt like I had accomplished something. I was proud of what I was doing. I had things to look forward to.

Back in September, I was optimistic. I tried to consider losing my job a blessing in disguise, an opportunity for a new challenge. Six months later, it’s become really difficult to find a silver lining. My confidence is gone. My optimism is too.

And I’m terrified. I’m so scared of not finding anything or worse, deciding to settle for something I don’t really want just to have a desk to go to in the morning. I’m scared that the years I spent in grad school and trying to cultivate a new career will go to waste. I’m terrified of going to my ten year college reunion in June and having to say over and over again that I don’t have a job, that the girl who had all of the bright dreams and goals back then has failed.

They say the night is darkest just before the dawn, right?

Sigh. Thanks for being my sounding board. Perhaps I can fall asleep now.

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4 thoughts on “262,800 minutes.

  1. “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”
    (Hopefully now you are thinking of Enjolras and feeling at least a little bit better)

    You are awesome, job or no job or dream job or temp job. This is a universally accepted scientific fact!

  2. It’s sad that you are being so demeaning to yourself about all of this, as I would venture to say that most if not all of your friends likely see qualities in you they wish they could better emulate in their own lives, and failure is not one of them. I think the rejections you’ve received are from folks whom can’t see for looking when it comes to good talent, and it’s their loss, not yours. Perhaps you’ve become so acutely focused on trying to avoid any missteps in your pursuit, that some of your natural edge is lost in the process. Sometimes stepping away from something is the best way to make an effortless great step forward with it; to quote John Lennon: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

  3. Brenna, I am very sorry that this so tough. Emily is right, though, you are awesome. You have so many traits I admire! Your honesty and talent with words are two of them and I hope they both help you find your dream job. I am sure they will!

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