What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun? A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. Also, the sun rises and the sun sets; and hastening to its place it rises there again. Blowing toward the south, then turning toward the north, the wind continues swirling along; and on its circular courses the wind returns. All rivers flow to the sea, yet the sea is not full. To the place where the rivers flow, there they flow again. All things are wearisome; man is not able to tell it.
Ecc. 1: 3 – 8
I awoke this morning and realized that no obligations pressed down on me: that I, soon-to-be junior in college, had spent the last week in frivolity and waste. I understood that from arriving in Seattle to this very minute I have done nothing of value. Jobs elude my grasp; each person I interview with looks at me sorrowfully and says, “Don’t put all your eggs in my basket. I don’t think we’ll have anything for you.” Then they add, “But here’s the email address of somebody who may have something for you,” as a consolation gift. Little consolation, however, because those people consistently have nothing as well. For my diligence I have scrounged up a part-time, month-long stint as a summer school algebra teacher and a part-time one-week long “administrative assistant” job at NWABR. My motivation, never high, has begun drooping lower and lower. Temp agencies cast me as a low-level secretary because of my experience at the Meacham Group, but what does that do me in the long run? A short stint as an “office assistant” will not find me a real writing job in the real world, but any writing internships exclude me because they all require applicants to submit previously published writing. I want to shout at them, “Come on! I’m trying to get experience so I can get published, but you won’t let me get experience without already having been published! It’s not fair!” Jobs aren’t fair, like a woman with two MA’s elbowing Ian out of an internship at Physio-Control.
I fear my slipping into working as a clerk, a secretary, anything useless. My friends find internships in their fields while I, motivation-less, flounder. Perhaps if I needed the money; if I felt my life depended on the experience; if my mindset changed, perhaps I would find what I needed. But now when I awake in the mornings I feel only a dragging dread for the day because I know that when I lay down again to sleep I will have done nothing. Yesterday I built two small Lego fortresses and miserably ate birthday cake, knowing I deserved none of the attention. I did not deserve birth, but now God as put me here and all I want is for Him to show me what He wants of me. I thought I knew – I write, I do science well, why not combine them? – but that field persistently remains barred from me. Does everybody else have the same trouble as me, finding that good jobs aren’t to be found? Or am I somehow deficient, inexperienced (I am! Not wholly by choice, though)? Each day I fail to find a job my heart sinks lower, the bitter knife twisting deeper into it, while my hope fades. A guilty voice grates inside my head constantly demanding why I don’t pursue this lead, or that, or get another lead to follow. The voice sounds like my mother sometimes, but I can’t tell if it’s her or me; people say we sound the same on the phone.
Perhaps I should give up on a paid job altogether. Surely some science organization needs volunteers; I have few skills but can learn quickly. Oh, life would be easier if we didn’t have to sell ourselves to employers—for I am no saleswoman. A salesperson has to at least nominally believe in their wares, but if I were an employer I wouldn’t hire Katie Ferguson. She’s too much of a nothing entity, too young and inexperienced, not in the job market long enough, too replaceable. I can read, I can write, I can edit college friends’ papers, I converse intelligently, I can go on long walks. I have average computer skills, but cannot code. I can drive. I know a little bit about cells, evaluating arguments logically, evolution, benthic organisms, the formation of rocks, William Wordsworth, Maxine Hong Kingston. But these mean nothing to a potential employer who only wants to know if I’ve operated a copier before, or if I can collate papers and stuff envelopes in a timely fashion. I attempted to start a website for writers, but its failure is imminent because nobody posts and nobody will respond if a person does post.
I believe that God made each of us for a purpose, to have meaning in our lives. Now if only He would give me a clear indication of His will for my life – a big sign with capital writing would be nice, or maybe a voice from heaven…
– KF –