Maybe it's being American, maybe it's just me, but it's really difficult to be truly happy unless I'm doing something I love, or at least believe in. The majority of Americans hate their jobs and slave away because we have mortgages and dependent children (or at least rent and car payments and a princess cat) and it may be because we're told from a very young age that we can do anything we want, that all we have to do is figure out what we want to do and sure enough we'll find a way to make a living doing it. We hear stories of people who teach dogs to surf for a living, people who review restaurants and clubs for a living, people who find their niche, find a product or company or idea they can get behind and end up not just making a living or getting by but doing well. These people exist as a shining example to the rest of us that our mediocre jobs and mediocre paychecks don't have to be forever, that if we want something bad enough all we have to do is go get it.
But what it really feels like is a taunt. These people just show us that we will always be miserable because we did not luck out- we did not meet that eclectic investor who took a fancy to us on the beach and funded our start-up dog surfing company, because someone else was slightly more qualified than we were, because someone's niece or cousin was applying for the same job we were, and perhaps most of all because at the end of the work day the last thing we want to do is think about the jobs we don't have.
I recently met with a trainer at the gym I joined to discuss my goals, which is to run my next half marathon in less than 2 hours. I said that on a scale of 1 to 10 as to how committed I was to this goal I was an 8. I have no idea why I put that. I'm really more like a 5, as in I do really want to beat that time but I don't realistically think I can do so. Why? From 730 in the morning to about 7 at night my time is work or work related: getting ready in the morning, commuting, working, lunch break (in which I sit in my car), cleaning my lunch box, and preparing food for the next day. Add stopping at the gym on my way home for strength training and some treadmill time and I'm a solid hour plus stretching plus changing time, plus showering once I get home, and that time is only going to increase the more I do street runs that are 6+ miles. By the time I make and eat dinner after a typical day it's at least 9pm and I should be in bed by 11 to get the amount of sleep I want (ha, yeah right).
So, when do I look for that perfect job that I'll do well in, that I care about and that pays enough? The weekends are great, but again that's when I need to be doing those really long runs, when I can see my friends, when I can get some good writing in (I know this blog should really be the last thing I spend time on, in addition to puttering about on the internet, which has slowed to a trickle, but I hate not writing for myself after all day of writing for work), and when I can catch up on the sleep I inevitably miss during the week. Job hunting, tailoring your resume and a cover letter for each position, takes a long time. Plus, my resume needs an overhaul. It's overwhelming.
Every now and then I regret my educational choices and wish I stuck with biology like I planned in high school. Then at least I'd be in a field I was passionate about and could still be writing for myself, maybe with an animal blog. There are three things I'm highly passionate about: animals and the environment, social equality, and food. I want to get my Master's in sociology, but part of me still thinks that won't be enough. I miss working with (or at least among) animals and want very badly to get back to that. But schooling is a very unlikely option because it would require me to essentially start over, making my 4 years in college irrelevant and my 4 years of professional experience completely useless. Plus, by the time I would be ready to get the job I actually want I'd be in my mid 30s with tens of thousands of dollars in debt working in a field that will never pay that off. Knowing that feels hopeless.
There are other things I want that make it impossible for me to take much of a pay cut for that perfect job. I've been frustrated for so long that I still, 4 years out of college and with all of that professional experience under my belt, have to watch every dollar I spend. The only reason I did the Hot Chocolate Race last week was because a bonus paid for it, but those bonuses are small, very rare and should be going to things like my car. I'm more than ready to be financially set, to stop thinking as soon as I finish paying for this one thing I'll be OK, I desperately need a new computer (and unfortunately only want a shiny, very expensive one), really need a new bed, and really want to take a community college class. Oh, and save for our road trip at the end of summer, start my personal savings so that I'll one day live in a nicer place with a dog, and have a night out every now and then that doesn't involve me picking the cheapest thing on the menu. It feels like a lot, but I also feel like I was promised that going to college would mean all of these dreams coming true, and I don't see how it's going to happen. Those I know who've made some of these things happen are either married and benefitting from their husband's incomes or had a lot of parental financial support. I had/have/wanted neither. But life this way can get frustrating.
A lot of the frustration in all honesty is coming from the current political situation. Every goddamn day I hear how one party is wanting to cut Americans off from health services (don't get me started on the current war on women), how all we need is a good Republican in Washington to clean up the mess, which is the same exact thing the Democrats said 4 years ago to clean up the previous Republican mess, and it's really fucking annoying. Seriously... I've only been paying attention to politics for about 8 years and this will be the third presidential election I've participated in, but I already think nothing is ever going to change. As long as one party is in office the other will blame it for everything that ever goes wrong and will be totally uncooperative just because it can, just because it's jealous that it's not in control. What fucking children. And we elect these people. We elect them because they call themselves Christian, because they play a wonderful game of us versus them, because they make every promise in the book from January until November and then forget about us completely. It makes me not want to live here anymore so that I don't have to be governed by the most immature people in the world. Cutting school funding so people like me can't help themselves, cutting social services so people worse off than me can't learn to be independent, and giving presents to people better off than me to they can buy Ferrari's (the trickle down idea is behind it all, but who does that really help besides luxury car mechanics?). Unfortunately it's April and we've still got 7 more months of this bullshit to go. I just hope Obama wins and will take some dramatic measures during the next four years to make things a little better without worrying about reelection.
I know this climate isn't going to last forever but I really want it to be over soon. If it's this hard for me it's got to be murder on a lot of other Americans.