imagination deflation

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I haven’t posted much in a while. My digital presence overall has been quite slim since returning to the US from Germany and completing my graduate thesis. I feel as though nothing is happening. Most of what I could say a year ago is still true today … and this saddens me. How can someone be so completely stuck?

I am working (praise God!), but I am still looking for a career – something to get my passions and dreams going again. I’m finding job hunting rather depressing. When I come across an advertisement for an opening, besides looking at the required qualifications, I gauge potential by if I can see myself there – doing the listed tasks and living in the area. And because I have an imagination, I imagine how the move would work, what area of town I would look for a place to live, nearby parks and grocers – I begin to invest in the dream. And then I deflate. Reality returns. I am stuck waiting for news. And after a year of this, I deflate quicker by letting past experience speak into the presence.

It’s difficult to make any plans because I have no concept what next month could look like. Will I still be in the place I am now or employed in a different state or even country? I quite like change, but the flip side to that is not having any predictability at all. That I can do without. So dash it all! Time to plan another travel vacation despite the uncertainties … and Italy is on the agenda 🙂

what am I doing

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What am I doing here? Here in this specific location in this specific time; and also here in life on this planet.

I am currently sitting in a motel room in California. The sole purpose of this short trip was for a potential job – nay, career. The envisioning that took place in my imagination was so different than reality. After applying for this position, I received an invitation to take a competency exam. (At this point, it sounds a lot like my UN job-trying experience.) I felt with my qualifications and understanding/knowledge and amiable personality, I would be an instant sensation … well, not really, but I figured I would very much be in the running, on the short list, quite nearly a lock. Upon arrival at the testing center, reality struck. At least 60 applicants were there as well … for two positions. Welcome to the world of competitive hiring.

The exam was easy; that’s not my concern. My current grounded and less optimistic thinking is how many other qualified candidates will also be on the not-so-short list. So what am I doing here, sitting in a motel room, ready to fly back tomorrow morning? For what did I spend so much money? When I think about this I very nearly feel like crying.

Now for the existential what-am-I-doing-here question: What am I doing in my life right now? Sometimes I think that I’m not really an adult – a grown-up person making and living a big girl life. I fell clueless about how aspects of life work; I feel dependent; I feel like there is so much of life that I don’t understand and am not ready for. I recently bought a vehicle (before my faithful friend Mr. Pathfinder got to his last leg). Big girl decision. But when considering that I want this vehicle to be with me for a good solid running of ten years … ten years?! How can I even fathom long-term decisions when I don’t have a clue what one month in the future looks like?? Growing up I was such a planner. I had everything figured out. I embrace change, really I do. But as soon as I know the change is real, it has already found a place in my plan.

At some point, this all changed. I have no clear plan. I can’t pretend to know what tomorrow looks like (although it should include me on two planes in three airports flying back to Texas). Is this just a product of growing up and getting wiser? I feel like maybe I’ve gotten everything backwards – that most people don’t have any sort of plan while they are young, just moving through life on the whim of their heart; and when those adult years of responsibility come about, people are set for the long-haul through the rest of life and family and home and career and what-have-you.

I mean, what are we doing, really? Does anyone do more than just pretend to know? I am a woman of specifics and clarity – and I have neither. But maybe nobody ever really figures out that anyway – until you live in it, I suppose.

grateful?

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It feels odd or anomalous or wrong to feel grateful in someone’s death. Although maybe significantly less so when dealing with long-suffering illness or possibly the final demise of a nemesis and personal wrong-doer. But neither truly fit here.

Recently my grandmother died (affectionately called “Mema”). Her health had been declining year by year (I was actually concerned that she would die while I was out of the country), but never more so than in the last few months when her energy and ability to breath seemed to be elsewhere. Her loss is felt more by my cousins, who grew up with her in the house with near-constant contact, and by her two remaining sons (the one missing being my dad). My sister, substantially more emotionally connected than I, experienced grief in the loss of stories and tangible connection with our dad, like she was losing a piece of him as well (in addition to normal reasons of grief associated with losing a loved one).

But I find myself in an awkward place: although her absence will be felt, the inheritance that she left has moved me out of debt. Living outside of my means only occurred when my means were zero … i.e. unemployed, living and schooling abroad, after my years of savings diminished. Others’ generosity (e.g. when I’m so broke I can’t fly myself home from Germany) was greatly appreciated and kept me from consequential credit card debt or having to get any official bank loan, but I like it better when I owe nothing to nobody. I feel relief to be cleared and squared away (at least for a bit until my auto gets to its last leg).

So what am I left with? Relief and gratefulness … sadly. (At least the sad part comes in somewhere.)

holding pattern

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I don’t much care for non-movement (although I suppose moving backwards is worse). Physically and metaphorically.

So the UN hiring exam is done. Now waiting. Waiting for February or March to receive a response about the next steps or not.

Thesis, and thus the Master’s program, is done. Now waiting. Waiting until who knows when to receive the final results and diploma.

Other long-term career options (other than the UN) are being sifted through and several applications have been sent out. Waiting – on both “them” and me. I think this is active waiting – it’s preparatory waiting. The jobs that interest me in the domestic realm of things are municipal planning positions throughout the US. Although what I’ll do if I’m offered one of those positions before hearing back from the UN, I don’t know.

Part-time work to earn money is FINALLY underway. Applications that I sent out in November finally came through. In one day, I went from being broke and jobless to having two jobs (and still broke). I was even called for an interview the day after I signed on at the full-time job. Yeah, thanks. Except even here I’m waiting. I’ve signed a contract, filled out personal information, completed the appropriate tax forms and had an introductory view at the position, but I haven’t been able to start scheduled, consistent hours. This is driving me nuts.

In other but similar news, being broke, I felt it wouldn’t be a responsible use of my non-income to continue with, well, anything that costs money … so there went my fitness club membership and a data plan on my mobile.

I like having direction in life, but I also enjoy movement. This holding pattern that I’ve been in for the past couple of months is waging a war with my spirit. I really need to do something productive, towards a goal, something active. It’s hard not to feel useless or a burden on others’ gratitude when you have nothing tangible to offer. I want to live a life of purpose, which I don’t really feel right now.

foreign affairs

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I have had the honor & privilege to be selected/invited to sit for a United Nations (UN) exam in a little over a week and a half’s time. As part of the Young Professional’s Program at the UN, 40 applicants from the Architecture section per country were selected into this next pre-hiring phase. The exam will consist of an architectural drafting and practice section and an international affairs section. Following a successful score (graded by February or March), the ‘passers’ will be invited for oral interviews … and then, after much dwindling of the applicant pool I suspect, hiring by the United Nations.

‘Studying’ for this exam is ambiguous. The architecture portion seems to be more akin to a qualifications verification – things you should already know if you have been in the architectural-professional world and those things learned through academics. (One sample exam is provided to familiarize what types of questions will be asked and practical solutions exercises will need to be drafted.)

The second part of the exam I am finding quite enjoyable (and more than slightly daunting) to study for. What is happening in the entire world around you? Uh-huh. Got it. The UN YPP site recommends reading international newspapers and journals, like from the Times’ (London & NY & why not throw in Indian), The Economist, BBC World News, etc. for a complete picture of critical issues in the world. They also recommend knowing a little something about the UN Secretariat itself – makes sense to me. 😉

So, let’s see: continuing issues between Israel & Palestinian state? check. History, advances, goals & setbacks of the Arab Spring? check. China’s new president and their economic/political issues? check. The opening of borders to outsiders and aid organizations of Burma/Myanmar? check. Sub-Sahara Africa’s political (in)stability and recent discoveries of oil? check. Russia’s new law about foreign investor’s interfering with national politics (and thus their expulsion)? check. The Euro Zone debt crisis and actions to prevent entire countries from bankruptcy (success & failures)? check. Latin America’s drug wars? check. Slums/Informal settlements around the world and the UN’s millennium goals? check.

What else is happening in the world? I’ll find out this week 🙂 But I do quite enjoy this part – the learning bit.