It’s been 75 days since I finished in my last job. My LAST job. These words seem entirely accurate for how I am feeling at the moment. I will never work again. Not because I have won the lotto and will indeed be taking everyone to the Bahamas for two weeks. But because after the countless applications I have sent out, it seems that there is no job for me. Anywhere. I will never have another job again; I am unemployable it seems. Of course, I am at risk of becoming histrionic, but I am unemployed. Grant me this one indulgence.
I have never experienced this degree of unemployment before. In my less burdened days, I wandered from one country to another, picking up jobs as I went along. I was never really concerned with career building or preparing for my pension or 2.4 children. It was the Celtic Tiger. Those things could wait. There was a world to see, people to meet, experiences to be had. So, off I wandered, to Asia and the Americas, across Eastern and Western Europe. Sometimes alone, sometimes finding the courage to talk to strangers in the hostel in whatever language worked. I made friends, Facebook and real, and managed to capture fleeting moments of pure joy and amazement in art and photography. I trekked to the Anthropology Museum in Mexico City alone. It was quite the achievement, especially when you consider that someone I met on the bus on the way there encouraged me to put my credit cards in my socks to avoid surrendering them to muggers in D.F. I wandered and it was marvellous. And now, the wanderlust has evaporated and I am left standing. In Dublin. In the rain. In unemployment. In desperation.
I should have studied business or IT or accounting. Everyone needs an accountant. I should have studied engineering in one of its many forms. I would be working in Germany as a highly successful engineer for some multi-billion dollar company, doing engineer-y stuff. I could be diligently applying all my tech knowledge at Microsoft or IBM, doing something very important with interfaces or apps. Instead, I studied the thing I absolutely love. And as we have all learned in recent years, that attitude is not going to get you very far. I studied History. I studied dead people, in all their finery, neurosis and blood-thirstiness. I studied revolutions, emancipation, acts of mad men and acts of sane men. Sometimes those were hard to distinguish. World War I is my favourite war. Now, how many people can say that? Certainly not the people who fought in it, but I digress. I studied the thing I love. And this does not lend itself to success in this era of practicality, brand marketing and search engine optimization. Perhaps now is the time to teach the next generation that it’s not about what you love; it’s about what will get you a job. It’s about being practical and admitting that Orwell’s 1984 is a good book, but literature, in all its beauty, is not a profession. However, you can, from time to time, visit some exhibition to view the hat that Orwell wore when he stayed for tea at his great-aunt’s house one summer. That will sustain you through your career in manufacturing or insurance. Over the years, your curiosity for the language shrivels and shrinks and eventually gets collected up in your hands, examined and briefly remembered as that thing you loved but couldn’t ever sustain you. Its withered petals barely recognizable because its essence died away a long time ago, and what is left is a brittle case of what was a passion. A penniless passion, so never mind.
So, I think I’m going insane. Because I should have been an engineer. I’d be happy now, right?