I’ve recently become obsessed with the show “Once Upon a Time.” Part of this is because I like magic and fantasy and fairy tales and I think that the way the writers weave the stories together is great, and I like a good character study with cliff hangers, which is essentially what both OUAT and Lost are.
But it occurred to me on Sunday that at this particular moment in my life, it is also probably because I feel like a protagonist who got screwed out of her happy ending. I wake up and I look around me and just go…
When I was young I dreamed of being a Broadway star. Then an opera singer. A story teller who would create beauty and make people forget about their problems. It was crazy, but I was young and naive. I was the tail end of the generation that was told, “Go to college. Study what you love. There will be a job doing something at the other end.” I was told this by my teachers. My mentors. And when I started college it was true. By the time I got out, it no longer was.
Then as I finished college, I realized that by taking out loans for school I had ruled out the possibility of a career in the performing arts, like opting to go into the forest in a “choose your own adventure” book where you can then never make your way back to the castle no matter what other choices you make. I now owed so much in loans that I couldn’t afford voice lessons and audition fees and coachings and accompanists and travel costs and all the finances that come with trying to be a performer.
The boomers love to call us lazy, but really we were set up for failure. The playbook was thrown out just when it was time for us to collect.
It’s why we drink so much.
I never envisioned my life with a white picket fence and a wife and 2.5 kids, but now I did dream of a stable job, a group of friends, maybe a girlfriend… maybe a wife. I saw a life where I lived in the same place for more than 2 years. Where I had a job that maybe wasn’t THE BEST THING EVER but made me feel good about contributing to the world.
Well, then that didn’t work out either. And while at one time quitting a job that I HATED SO HARD but which had insurance and retirement to pursue a career I am passionate and excited about might not have seemed like that big of a risk…
But anyway, I went to library school. I studied hard. Did internships. And expected when I got out to get a job in the library field. So I applied. And Applied. And interviewed. And applied and interviewed.
And I still am.
And maybe you’re thinking I’m bad with people or interview poorly or need to have someone look at my resume. Well I’m not and I don’t and I did.
And some days I feel like everyone in the fucking world has an opinion about what I should do to fix this. If I hear one more person say “maybe you just need to apply for different jobs” or “maybe you just need to be less picky about your location” I’m going to scream.
Five months into the job hunt I’ve applied for dozens of jobs. My response rate is about 20% which is, sadly, really pretty good. And I’ve been in the final running for 4 different positions. But I seem to be cast in the ugly stepsister role. As the girl who dies tragically, instead of the one who lives happily ever after. And now I dream of any job remotely in my field that will allow me to not have to call my parents each month and ask “please, sir, can I have some more?”
(**note. I am incredibly lucky to have parents that, in spite of all our differences, are financially able and emotionally willing to support me through my bout of joblessness. I ABSOLUTELY recognize that. Recognizing this, however, does not make me feel any less like a 10 year old asking for her allowance rather than a grown ass adult.)
I don’t dream of the perfect job and the perfect house anymore. I don’t dream of Princess Charming or a fairy tale ending.
Now I dream of anything that doesn’t make me wonder WHAT THE FUCK I WENT TO LIBRARY SCHOOL FOR?
And I know from the interwebz that I am not special like a snowflake in this. There are tons and tons of people trying to get full time work in their field. Tons and tons of qualified, intelligent, personable people just trying to get a mother fucking full time job with some health insurance thrown in.
But I also see a lot of people my age who got married and have a house and a kid. People who stuck with the first career they picked instead of me who had this naïve idea that I deserved to be happy and fulfilled in my job. And I’m suddenly torn between wanting that stability (not the kid though), the comfort of someone who is stuck with you day after day after day for years and a house you can paint without asking permission.
I’m torn between wanting that and also looking at their facebook status’s about sleeping through the night and first haircuts and going
OH MY GODS IS THIS REALLY ALL THERE IS???
Which is why I think that Once Upon a Time is really written for us. The 20/30 somethings who are filled with bitterness and despair.
Because we are acutely aware of what fairy tales DON’T teach you:
NOT EVERYONE GETS A HAPPY ENDING!!!
Sometimes you lose your job to a shitty economy. Sometimes you get fired for being gay. Sometimes you are just a LITTLE less qualified then all the other people who apply with. Sometimes Princess Charming dies or gets distracted on the way to wake you up.
Sometimes the queen enacts a curse that totally FUCKS UP YOUR LIFE.
And you never get it back.
But I want to believe.