I am an adult, one with a resumé full of buzzy action verbs and Latin honors: Summa cum laude. Phi beta kappa. Yo gabba gabba. What this resumé highlights is that I’ve lived abroad, and I’ve benefited from multiple Career Services workshops. It got stretched pretty thin during my recent hunt for jobs in waitressing, nannying, cashier-ing, anything. Toward the end it may have been more useful to scrap it all in favor of $20 bills with HIRE ME scrawled across Andrew Jackson's face.
Thankfully, between writing the first draft of this post a little while back and putting it up today, I have found a job. Rather, my sister-in-law found one for me, and I’m very thankful. The unemployment that inspired this topic lasted only one painful week, which is nothing to complain about, and so I've skimmed off a good amount of my original bitterness upon revisioning. Not all of it, though, of course. The fact remains that any amount of job hunting necessary makes the hunter feel like trash from beginning to end, no matter how blessedly brief the process may turn out to be. My particular problem with employers was that I’ll only be available to work until late September, at which point I'll be returning to France. Turns out there’s a scarcity of resume-building company positions that are willing to train a new hire for a month only to see her leave in three.
There were a handful of summer internships I had my eye on, but most were intended for current students, and those for which I did apply just didn’t work out. This is a diplomatic way of saying they went with other candidates, which itself is a diplomatic way of saying they didn’t want me, which itself is proof that I’ve already made myself into a completely un-hireable ball of confusion only one year out of college. It’s fine. These are all reasonable conclusions to make, and I definitely didn’t spiral.
So, with that cheery attitude, I was facing the same process I undertook as a 16 year old girl looking to learn some responsibility: going door-to-door asking for applications. Only this time I was shooting for over $7.25 an hour, worried that at this rate I’ll never save for retirement. Back then, I was saving for concert tickets, worried that I wouldn't be able to get the car from my brothers. I’m also sleeping in my childhood bedroom again, polka-dotted comforter and unicorn painting and all. It’s a jarring change after living alone for a year, particularly in combination with a day spent crossing my fingers for $9 an hour, at least, please. As Mom reminded me when I unleashed my frustrations on her after mere hours searching: God loves the humble.
I don’t know if it really is in the Bible anywhere, but looking for a job has to be one of the strongest reminders that we humans can receive from the wild, unknowable universe that, look, y’all really ain’t shit. In other words, dust you are and to dust you will return, swept into the bin by the candidate they chose for the janitorial position you couldn't land. When you walk into a chain restaurant to ask the teenage employees if they could slide you an application, you really start to second-guess the judgement of the professors who saw something special in you. You then go on to look into the faces of hiring managers from across a booth at 4 PM with two customers eavesdropping nearby as you scramble for answers to prove your customer service experience. You continue to wonder why you spent all that time on fellowships and research papers. Should’ve done what dads worldwide have been telling us all along: just go get a job. So you’ve never made a B since 9th grade biology, and you spearheaded your university’s initiative for diversity and inclusion? Delightful! But, tell me, do you know how to work a cash register?
I'm the opposite of resilient, so it’s no wonder that after this, “professional cryer” ended up under the Special Skills section of one of my applications, the eighth of the day. I sighed, filled out the rest of the blanks, paperclipped on one of the resumés I had folded up in my backpack, handed it to the bartender, and went to the coffee shop next door to do it all over again, wondering as I walked how to spin my inability to drink coffee due to irritable bowels into the reason that I was just the one for the job. There was also really something special about coming up with my cover letter for a position at a cemetery advertised on LinkedIn. It really summed up the whole of the life-sucking process.
Ultimately, as usual, everything's fine. I do have a summer job, thanks in no small part to a plethora of unearned privileges as a middle-class white lady. Plus, as much as I complain, I don’t actually think there’s much wrong with being slapped in the face by the reminder that a college degree is nice and all, but it’s not what gets the coffee brewed, the food served, or the streets clean. Nor is it a possibility for everyone, so appreciate what you have, and don’t be fooled into thinking it makes you better than anybody else.
God loves the humble. We’re all just piles of dust.