How Failure Haunts You

October 1, 2014 § Leave a comment

In my mind at least, I see myself bouncing back pretty quickly from failure. I pride myself on being resourceful and persistent, spending a mere 12-24 hours to grieve rejection or disappointment before getting up the next day with my fire renewed and my engine chug chug chugging onwards to my determined goal. Historically in my short little life, I’ve met plenty of failure but I bounce back almost immediately, always scrounging and scampering and scraping things together until they form a decent new plan.

This year has been really rough. All the “You’ll find something…,” “Just be patient!”, “Something good is on its way.” and “This just means the right job hasn’t come up yet!” sayings in the world couldn’t secure me any kind of Big Girl employment. Hell, I couldn’t even get restaurants to call me back; it was just dumb luck I guess that I got hired at the restaurant where I work now. But a restaurant job? Come on, I can’t even put that on my resume.

I’m basically the new boss of the floor now. I’m the only person who works every shift we’re open and I’m one of the only two people who are trained on the register, so I’m basically In Charge. I delegate tasks to the new people and the people we have coming in to pick up random shifts as we struggle to keep a full staff. I’m in charge of to-go orders, bread puddings, alcohol servings, whipped cream, and other food prep assignments that in the past went to Sarah, who recently left to have a baby after working there for years. Considering I just started, what, a month or so ago? This feels like a big step. Good thing I’m ready, willing, and damned able to take it. I delegate better than the other ladies who were heading the floor, so that’s a plus, although I am somewhat particular in the way I want things done (stay as organized and efficient as possible, please!) which is taking longer for people to catch on to.

Anyway, totally not the point. The point is that I can’t allow myself to feel any kind of optimism about my employment status during this shift to Tampa. I feel panicky and in a constant state of anxiety, noting all the jobs I’ve applied for in Florida and how not a single one has called me back. Jason, bless his heart, has been saying the same things my family told me over the 8 months of my unemployment, and I finally had to tell him just to stop saying anything positive because I have 8 months of proof that all that is bullshit. There are no guarantees of a good job in my future. There aren’t even guarantees of shitty jobs that would make me figuratively want to blow my brains out like being a receptionist or (worse?) an executive assistant. I tried like hell to get a job in Birmingham where I grew up and have a plethora of connections and networks, yet I couldn’t get anyone to hire me. How the FUCK am I supposed to get anyone in Tampa (what, 400 miles away? I don’t even know) to hire me?!?!

In the past, I would have been very confident if not cocky. I would have said “Of course I’ll find something! When have I ever not?” because in the past, the longest I’d been unemployed was a month. Maybe two. But now I’ve felt that burn of constant rejection, that building pressure of desperation as the money runs out, that crushing feeling when you realize you, along with so many other Americans, can’t afford to take care of yourself because no one will hire you.

That’s wimpy, though, isn’t it. “Oh, you were unemployed for 8 months in your home town after getting a Master’s degree. Oh, boohoo. So you’re just going to stay in Birmingham and work at the restaurant forever?” Of course not. That’s not who I am. I always keep trying, no matter how many times I get knocked down (13 PhD rejection letters can confirm that). I have to keep trying to make it to Tampa without having to move blind again and hope that I can 1. convince my parents to cosign yet another apartment lease with me so I can have someplace to live without a job after the Bham gamble was a disaster and 2. actually get a job with a decent, livable wage, preferably not a restaurant job though I suppose you have to start somewhere. I’ve certainly learned that a restaurant job is better than being completely unemployed. Plus being unemployed makes me crazy from boredom and cabin fever. There are challenges ahead and my failures constantly haunt me, preventing me from feeling any kind of optimism or opening my heart to any kind of positive words offered to me by my beloved and my family.

The excitement of being in a new city is certainly building though. God, I love being in new places. Finding special little nooks and crannies, new dive bars and breweries, new brunch places and burger joints, new parks and things to do outdoors. Hell, I even appreciate the sunset in different cities and their different landscapes, both urban and country. A new place with a new vibe, new people, new things to explore! I’m beyond thrilled. I’ve loved living in Birmingham and have enjoyed the comfort that comes with being in your hometown, always knowing what places are open when and where to go to get that perfect thing to satisfy whatever you’re craving. You can drive anywhere with very little thought as you run perpetually on autopilot.

But in a new place, you have to pay attention and every time you get lost, you have another adventure, seeing new areas of the city and neighborhoods and finding your favorite streets, your favorite houses, your favorite trees. I haven’t spent much time in Florida beyond the panhandle and it’s one of the few southeastern states that I haven’t lived in (Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, check check check). I refuse to ever live in Mississippi and I pretend that Arkansas doesn’t exist (because ew). South Carolina is on my list of places to live, albeit likely only for a short while, specifically Charleston, but that can wait along with New Orleans in Louisiana. Florida is uncharted territory for me and I plan to thoroughly explore and enjoy all that it has to offer.

With so many rivers and lakes, I intend to fish on the weekends and eat my haul throughout the week. For the most part, I would be fishing bass and I don’t know how healthy or nutritious it is, but at least I’ll feel better eating something I’ve caught myself. I will be forced to confront my mortal dread of alligators, which many people laugh at for some reason despite the fact that they are damn near perfect predators.

Ah. Slow down, kid. You’re doing it again. Don’t I always have these grand plans whenever I move someplace new? And then I never do them. I spend my freetime in bed watching netflix or staring at the ceiling.

Oh right. THAT’S BECAUSE I WAS DEPRESSED! This will be my first move since I’ve started medication and am on the path to healthiness and happiness so I think I actually will do much of what I hope to do while I’m there like kayak on the bay, lay out on the beach, go deep sea fishing (not often though, cause that’s intense), and fish on the river on the regular. To be fair, I’ve done a hell of a lot in Birmingham from hiking to kayaking to going to festivals to volunteering my ass off. I think Tampa will be a lot of fun, especially since I’ll have the most wonderful man to force to do things with me. We’re still dancing around the living together conversation, or perhaps just I am and he’s totally fine moving down there separately. Either way, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, either when one of us gets a job offer or when I move down there in January when my lease is up. Whatever comes first…

In the meantime, how to fight off the Failure Ghosts? How to trust the people who love me and believe them when they say positive things regarding my employment potential? How do I have faith in them when history has so clearly contradicted everything they promised me? I don’t know. But even if I don’t believe all their positive sayings and irritating optimism, I know that I will continue to press on as I always have, keep fighting for what I want, keep struggling towards the life I wish I had.


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