A light-hearted rant on the horrors of job-hunting and the lessons to be learnt from living with cats ...
This is a sentiment I’ve been expressing quite a bit lately.
Oh you know, just applying for jobs, worried about finding a place to live, feeling the conflicting parental pressure of “Please leave, like, yesterday” as well as “No, baby, stay here, don’t go out there, it’s scary”.
Those things really get to a person. I’ve now been hunting for jobs, for work experience, for internships (literally ANYTHING, argh) for a few months and I am sick and tired of it.
At the beginning of the summer, I didn’t anticipate just how draining this whole selling-yourself-to-potential-employers business really is. It has made me have a whole new appreciation for the work of prostitutes.
In general, I’m not a person that gets discouraged easily or that can’t handle stressful or tough situations. But something about the repetitive task of finding job postings, reading up on companies, reworking my CV, writing a cover letter, sending in that application and then waiting while repeating the process again and again and again … it really drains me.
At the moment, after about two months of serious job finding, I’m taking a break. I haven’t applied to anything in almost a week! It feels great! Suddenly life is worth living again! Honestly, I cannot recommend this break enough.
Because, already after my third application for a job I was medium-range excited for, I started thinking. Do I want this? Do I want to enter into an agreement that sees me working 40 hours a week on tasks I probably won’t be too excited about? Do I want to come home exhausted every evening, unable to pursue other creative aspirations because I Just. Need. Sleep?
No. Absolutely not.
In the last two years, I have had the growing realization that, sooner or later, the direction of my aspirations will lead me into freelancing. I’m simply interested in too many things and don’t work well in a contained environment to really fit the office-job persona. I’m not trying to diss office jobs here, I’m just saying that I’m not the kind of person who could flourish in that setting.
This doesn’t mean that I think I’m particularly suited for freelancing either. I have literally no work experience, only some good grades by my side, I have done exactly one 4-day internship and have not been part of a group, society or particular sports activity in years.
What I do have is a certain amount of pigheadedness, a lot of potential to daydream, ambition that makes me imagine the wildest things, and a continually evolving but ever present urge to write. Ironically, while studying Filmmaking and Screenwriting, that writing side has been virtually asleep, but in the months since graduation I have already been writing more than I ever thought possible.
So maybe, just maybe, I have enough arrows in my quiver to make it work with this mystical career path we call freelancing.
After all, this is a direction I’m really rather interested in. With every full-time job application I sent out, I had a tight knot in my stomach, a catch in my throat and a frown on my face. As I’m writing this blog post however (because every freelance writer needs a blog!), I am at ease. I am focused. I have a certain glint of determination in my eye and oh – what’s that?
I’m actually smiling.
I want to take this as a sign that what I’m doing is right.
I absolutely know that establishing this won’t be easy. Frankly, I have no idea what I’m doing, barely an inkling of where to start and no confirmation whether what I’m doing is correct.
As I’m writing this post, I have a cat perched very cutely between me and my laptop. We have had a bit of a disagreement as to the correct arm-over-cat placement (so that I can actually reach my keyboard), but we’re all good now.
In moments when my entrepreneurial spirit wanes and the tide of self-doubt starts coming in, I look at my cats and feel jealous. Can’t I just sleep, eat, poop, get cuddled, then eat and sleep some more? Why am I not in a position where I can bite or scratch people without fear of retribution? Also why am I incapable of lounging around in the sun, licking my stomach, convinced I’m the greatest Alpha in town?
Well, for one I lack a certain amount of flexibility for the stomach-licking, I know how to deal with people without resorting to violence (mostly) and as for the day rhythm of a cat … all in good time.
One day. One day I will have the possibility of a cat-like existence.
However, then I realize that I would probably be bored silly after a week of being a cat. Of course if I had the intelligence level of a cat, I would do fine, but if simply my consciousness was transferred into a feline body … that would not be the fulfilment I’m looking for.
So when my entrepreneurial spirit recovers and reason re-enters the room, I think to myself: I don’t want to be a cat for the same reason as I don’t want to work a 9-5 job. I want freedom. Freedom to pursue, freedom to experiment, freedom to learn, to write, to film, freedom to imagine and freedom to make. And while, in that desire, being a cat might well be more useful than being a 9-5 worker, ultimately it is being me that will lead me on the path to freedom.