Worrying about Success

I’ve been unemployed for such a long time that the thought of getting a job seems abstract. It’s not really something that’s going to happen to me, right? It’s so strange to have a goal for such a long time and not have a clear idea of what, exactly, you’re going for.

Every time I apply for a job, I get nervous that I’ll actually get the job. What in the world is wrong with me? Getting a job is sort of the point of my existence right now… so why am I scared that I’ll succeed?

My life has not involved that many formal challenges in the past year. I haven’t had a boss tell me, “Do this better,” in a while. Everything that I’m trying to improve and change about myself is triggered from myself; I’m my own boss right now. I’m overwhelmed and worried that I’ll fail, that I’ll get fired again, or that I’ll be treated like crap. I’m afraid that I’ll hate my job and want to quit.

I haven’t had to be that accountable for myself, or been forced to “look busy,” in almost a year. If I say to Mr. Something, “Yeah, today I’ll take out the trash, clean the catbox, do laundry, and make dinner,” I don’t have anything restricting my activities except for a deadline of “dinnertime.” That gives me a lot of freedom. I can lounge around for a while, or catch up on email, or work out, or whatever, as long as I get my tasks done by the time he gets home. (A self-imposed deadline; he doesn’t care if I even do all the stuff I do, but I like to free up my nights by getting stuff done during the day.)

The idea of changing my incredibly lax schedule terrifies me. I’m totally fine with getting up in the morning, but wearing office-appropriate clothing for 8 hours a day? I don’t own any businessy stuff. I’ve lost a bunch of weight during my unemployment, because I eat when I’m relaxed and don’t eat as much when I’m stressed. Nothing that I own that is even mildly professional fits. I could get a job as a go-go dancer and be perfectly clothed, but a secretary? Nope.

I understand that these are all excuses, that I shouldn’t be scared of actually having a job, and that I could just go to the thrift store and probably find some clothes that would work for right now. It’s weird to imagine myself with a job. I’m used to answering the question, “So what do you do?” with, “I’m unemployed, but here’s an extensive list of my hobbies and daily activities.” I’m used to having some sense of righteous indignation about not having a job. I’m used to being allowed to be angry about my situation.

This might make it seem like I’m not looking forward to having a job. I am… it’s just that I don’t want my life to completely change from what it is right now. I want to have time to do burlesque, and time to cook dinner. I want to be able to wear whatever I want, and take showers at 2pm, and go to the grocery store before everyone gets out of work. I found out this past year that if I could afford to be a housewife-type person, and if I had some money for traveling, I’d absolutely love it. I like feeling useful and you know what? I can cook up a storm.

I’ve been weirdly successful at being a stay-at-home girlfriend, and I think, ultimately, what I’m worried about is that I won’t be as good at having a job as I am at doing what I’ve been doing. Does that make any sense? I feel like I need one of those really stupid motivational posters with a kitten hanging off a branch that says, “Hang in there!” or “You have to fail in order to succeed!” or something.

I’m used to being good at stuff. This is hard.


One comment

  1. I can *completely* identify with the fear of actually finding a job, if for slightly different reasons. My last formal full-time job didn’t turn out very well–to put it plainly, I had an emotionally abusive boss, which led to me developing a panic disorder. The pay was good, benefits were great, and I had my own office, but I eventually had to quit with no back-up. Luckily, I was living at home with my family and they completely supported my decision (and me!), but I still wanted to find something else. Every time I put in an application, though, I would get incredibly nervous that they might WANT me. First, because I might end up in an awful situation and, later, because I wasn’t sure that an office would ever be the right environment for me. My job search, that time around, was interrupted by a wedding and a move to Madison, but I’m so thankful for the job I have now. No office, no controlling boss, I can wear whatever I want….Dealing with diapers seems like a pretty good trade-off.

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