Archives for posts with tag: family

The worst thing about blogging and job hunting and blogging about job hunting (especially blogging about job hunting) is probably the complete lack of response that follows a given post or application.

I didn’t necessarily start this blog for an audience, and have, in fact been reluctant to draw much attention to it. I have to admit though, that a “like”, a comment or a “follow” can make my day. The problem is that now that I’ve had a taste, I want more, (There. I said it.) and I fret a bit when I don’t generate a reaction.

That’s nothing to how I feel after submitting an application. I am pathetically grateful for an automatic email response, or a chance to track my application online. Something truly is better than nothing.

The best thing about blogging and job hunting is that there is always another chance. All I have to do is write something else, and find another job that looks interesting. Practice may not make perfect, but it should make better. I can find a new topic, or refine my arguments that I am the best qualified applicant.

In the meantime, I remind myself that I do exist in the real world. My family and  friends, the people at my little job, and the folks at the Literacy Center, B.R. in particular, provide a warm-blooded context to counter the cold-blooded isolation that is writing and looking for work.

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It starts so early.  Several years ago, I identified an undercurrent of shame as one factor that seems to hold me back. Trying to unravel its source has been tricky, and uncomfortable.

I can’t really remember a time in my life when I did not feel shame about something. My father died when I was very young, and I felt shame about being in a family that was so different than my friends’. Irrational, I know, but rationality is not a characteristic possessed by most kindergarteners.

My mother and her mother compounded my feelings. Mom and her sister had different fathers, and there was some suggestion that my grandmother had not been married to one of these men. ( I will never know, because the involved parties have all gone to their graves with their secrets.)

I got older, and taller than almost everyone else. And my hair was wildly curly. Different again, and shameful, in my mind. I was repeatedly ridiculed in elementary school for being singled out by my teachers for being smart.  And on it went;  right up to my current under-employed present- just another reason to feel shame.  Shame was a magnet for other reasons to feel it. I never stopped to question whether my feelings were valid.

Shame can be useful. Applied properly, it helps us function as a society. We should feel shame when we harm one another by lying, cheating and stealing, or worse.

Shame that only hurts ourselves is no shame, just waste. The real shame of this shame is that it is also very context-specific. Had my grandmother lived her same life in another time and place, right now, for instance, no one would blink at her less than conventional family life. It pains me to think of all of the emotional suffering that would have spared her, my mother and my aunt.

That kind of shame keeps us from taking our rightful place in the world; I know I dialed down my efforts in school to fit in with my classmates, (a real shame with permanent effect.)  More recently, ashamed of my lack of  employment-related identity, I have hesitated to make social overtures, an obvious waste of free time I will never have again, not to mention opportunities to make connections that might help me find work!

Going forward, I promise this:

1) When I feel ashamed, I will ask myself whether I have caused anyone actual harm. If so, I will do my best to right the wrong. If no, I will get over myself, and move forward.

2) When I see anyone around me feeling self-harming  shame, I will do my best to comfort and encourage them.

Imagine a world where we all felt shame only when we should, and never when we shouldn’t. We’d hardly recognize the place.

I was raised by an anxious and depressed mother. She came by it honestly; her life was hard in ways I can only guess. In the manner of her generation, she did not share many details. I do know that she dearly loved my father. She lost him suddenly when he was killed in a car accident on his way home from work. I was five.

I can’t count the number of times I heard “Your father didn’t come home one night” as I tried to weasel my way out of curfew during my high school years. At the time, I felt it was her effort to repress me. I get it now. It was her expression of the painful truth that at any time, anything can go horribly, catastrophically  wrong.

I have, perhaps predictably, lived a fearful life. I have been afraid to be hurt, afraid to be disappointed, afraid to be afraid.

As a result, I have missed opportunities. And fun. (Probably lots of fun.) And I have been hurt, disappointed and afraid anyway.

None of the worrying or avoidance protected me. And I have been gobsmacked by things I never dreamed of worrying about. And survived it all, so far.

The last five years have been particularly challenging. There were the three years of bi-coastal marriage. The Kid went to college, and came back early. There were health issues. Our darling Maggie dog died. My mother died, and my brother and his family were cruel and deceitful. I have been under-employed, and uncertain about what to do about it.

There is not that much left to be afraid of.  Rather, there is not much to be afraid of that I can control.

I am afraid that I will regret not taking more chances from now on. And I can do something about that.

Having failed to immediately find a job by rushing directly at one, I resolved to invest serious time and thought into what I really want to do and what I need to get there. Then I avoided taking the time and thinking about it.

Now, I am committed, one tentative step at a time.

For the first time, I have clearly identified what matters to me, and articulated it:

 Health:  I enjoyed what is referred to as “Rude good health” for the first 50 or so years of my life. I considered it rude in the sense that I made no particular effort to maintain it, and in fact risked it by doing dumb things like smoking cigarettes. I have been reminded in several ways that I cannot assume such a level of health will sustain itself without increased effort on my part.

Happy and Healthy Family: This is harder to achieve than it looks, since they seem to have their own opinions on the subject, and arguing about it seems somehow contra-indicated.

Comfortable and Welcoming Home: On the upside, I am finally in my “forever” home, with time to accomplish the things I have spent years planning. I have been painting and planting and rearranging. On the downside, my missing paycheck slows this process down considerably. This is a huge general goal, composed of an infinite number of steps. I am happy to realize that while I can’t necessarily get near the big steps (new flooring, bathroom renovations, etc.) I can manage many others with little or no expense.

Meaningful Work: It’s not all about the money, although I certainly hope to make some (hello, hardwood floors.) I have been lucky enough to know that my past work has made a real difference to some people. It’s a great feeling. I’ve come to realize also that I enjoy teaching/mentoring in any capacity. I am also a far better advocate for  others than myself. I hope that by continuing to tease out the general elements that I enjoyed most in my  previous jobs, I can eventually guide myself to the right place for me now. I also understand that my ideal job may turn out to be “jobs” given my interests, the current employment climate, and my ability to market myself. At this point, I have two planks in my work platform: a volunteer position that inspires and gratifies me, and a new, part-time job. Ideally, I will add a “bigger” job, and pursue some additional volunteer interests. (Next volunteer gig in the hopper: Kitten Whisperer! Okay, that’s not the official title, but the local Animal Protection Society  does use volunteers to socialize adoptable dogs and cats.)

Creative Outlets: Perhaps I will finally use the water colors I got for Christmas too many years ago to admit. In the meantime, there is my little blog, and any number of those projects around the house, so I am feeling pretty satisfied in this area of my life.

My challenge at this point is to direct my energies in service of these goals. They are related, and many of my actions should further more than one: for example, I expect my part-time job to allow me to exercise some creativity, learn something new, and be of some use to people, although in a new way. The money I earn can be allocated toward making my house a cozier place.

Many future posts here will be around my big 5 topics in some way or other. I may even go crazy and try to develop a Mission Statement– do you have one?

George Lakoff

George Lakoff has retired as Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley. He is now Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society (cnms.berkeley.edu).

Greggory Miller

Investing for normal people

The Happsters

Spread Positive Vibes. Give Love. Be Happy.

jmgoyder

wings and things