I dump the contents of a 2,000 piece puzzle onto the dining room table just as my phone lights up, what is your mission statement, gabby?, She pushes me like this, forcing me to step back from the craze of unemployment, from the job hunt, and look inward, a series of thought exercises that consistently leave me somehow more certain, confident in my knowledge of self.
I lean my forearms into the jumble on the table and let my arm hairs get coated with the light layer of sawdust that always accompanies a new puzzle. What is MY mission statement, what are my values? To train with intention, to act and react with integrity. To write with absolute rawness and honesty (poems, emails, articles, text, book), to listen with interest (to humans, music, the city), and to say yes (more than I say no). To get butterflies from love (not from fear), to listen to my instinct 100% of the time, to form genuine connections (with people, art, nature, my body). To nurture the romanticist innate to my being, and practice acts of self-love each day.
For someone my age, I have a really solid sense of who I am and what my strengths (persistence, energy level, dedication), my weaknesses (patience, introversion, at times, antisocial) are. Who am I? I am a feminist explorer, lover (of words), poet, thinker, reader, listener (of music), feeler, observer, driver, anti-sheep, who plays rugby and runs (away from/ to/ marathons).
But the last two months have been a time of great change and challenge for me. I graduated Smith College in May, completed a Summer Publishing course at New York University, broke up with my partner of almost year, moved to New York, and then moved back to Connecticut, fell into a “Dear John” romance, for the first time in my life, am unemployed, and have applied to over sixty entry level positions in the publishing and magazine media industry while simultaneously learning information about how to freelance on the side. I have walked away from the familiar and been pushed away from the known environment of college and its certainties. And while it is absolutely unnerving and terrifying, beyond the fear, there is great freedom.
Thinking about my own mission statement while applying for jobs and crafting cover letters has helped me re-see the tremendous amount of change and level of unknown in the future, in a positive light. I have not lost my values, I am not following the crowd, and I am working each day on being open minded by learning to love the chaos of the city and find peace in the quiet of Connecticut, to enjoy the time not having a job allows me to focus on my writing, and to spend time with myself.
I have been looking for permission to enjoy being unemployed, and while I will continue applying to four or five jobs each day, I am going to enjoy the times this opens for me to read women’s memoirs, go to the gym, and work on my memoir. After all, I’m only twenty-two… and sometimes not knowing is the name of the game.