Last night, I was sitting in at home in the living room on the couch, watching a rerun of "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" on BBC America. It was about 11pm. My company was comprised of between 3 and 5 cats, the variance in number due to an uneasy "cat peace" momentarily reigning between opposing feline factions. After games of "Superheroes" and "Party Quirks," I suddenly had this feeling that I wanted to pack everything up and go to Washington DC--just like that. I could only liken the sensation to moments during my graduate school research and writing when I was suddenly compelled to throw necessities into a carry-on and hop the next train to who-knows-where in England. However, there was one striking difference. Previously, I needed a few days' respite from the monotony of a research-oriented lifestyle. This time, I wasn't looking for a momentary reminder that there was a "rest of the world" out there. Instead, I wanted to go somewhere I really wanted to set myself down for a longer haul. I wanted to find a job, an apartment--generally, a life.
Several years ago, I graduated from college and there was this looming emptiness before me. Some call it "possibility" whereas at the time, I saw it as a huge black void of time without the structure that education previously, and comfortably, imposed. I have thought a lot about that experience, and more specifically, how very naieve I was. I was convinced that I would find myself suitable employment as a BA with no professional job experience. Well, I can't fault myself for that completely--the year I graduated was the first year the economy registered recession in the form of net job loss, and after years of the booming 1990's market, no one, much less the college careers center, was prepared for hoards of qualified applicants pressing for a handful of entry-level positions. I'll never forget my first real push for a job I truly wanted--and the utter failure all of my efforts ultimately gained. An onslaught of rejection letters from jobs I applied to followed over the summer. The result was my consideration of unpaid work that would earn me the experience that could possibly make the difference for me if I had it.
The one significant difference between then and now, even though I am sitting on the tail end of an academic experience in the same fashion I was in 2002, is my view of where the next step ultimately was meant to lead. Even if I had earned gainful employment right out of college, I would not have viewed that as part of a permanent state. I was aware of a desire to feel around a little, take a position maybe but without the obligation of long term commitment, pick and choose between living spaces, etc. However, the sensations differ now. Although I am realistic and I do know that any acquisition of a job may or may not be something that will last a while should have some relationship with what I may be ultimately aiming at doing, even if that concept only falls in the category of "type of work" rather than in the form of a specific job. I am more drawn to identifying a place I would like to be for a longer span of time than one year (which has been the average tenancy of any of my previous places of residence) and to activities that require a more considerable commitment on my part. This may just be due to the passage of time, but I think it more has to do with what my experience in England ultimately symbolized to me. I took off and conquered what was for me the greatest challenge--moving in and successfully living a long distance away from what it is that I know and have known. The result is my feeling more comfortable in my own skin--not completely comfortable, mind you, but there is a detectable improvement--and now, the next challenge falls into a new category.
I don't think I ever thought finding a life would ever be the challenge in the scheme of things that it has ultimately become. However, I do know that it comes at the right point--my taking it on at this time at least ensures that there won't be any "what ifs," and had I done it sooner, I can guarantee that would not be the case.