Before my mother died, I had a 100% hire rate for every job I interviewed for. Since April 2009, I’ve landed one job from someone who didn’t know me prior. I was fired from it four months later.
I tried not to take it personally. We parted on good terms. It was a personal assistant gig, and I wasn’t the be-on-call-24-7-for-someone’s-life-details kind of person. I like a clear line between work and home, and the job made me feel like I was permanently on-call.
But the failure still burned. I was an A-student. I wasn’t the type of person to lose their job because my employer wasn’t satisfied. I tried to shake it off. I interviewed for a political web site where I would have been writing the pros and cons of issues — a dream job — and didn’t get it. A temp agency sent me out on an interview for a one-month admin position at a furniture store. I wasn’t right. I went out for a media job with a two-page resume detailing my journalism and television experience. I wasn’t chosen.
Was I a victim of the economy or was my energy different? Was I exuding some sort of Death Star grief aura that was repelling potential employers? Or was this what it was like being unemployed at age 34 as opposed to 22? I was too experienced to get paid nothing yet not young enough to seem thoroughly compliant. Interviewers asked me again and again, “What about the television writing? Is that something you still want to do?” I could see the fear flicker behind their eyes.
Yes, it was. Something I had waited patiently for despite a string of part-time writers’ assistant roles that failed to pay my bills. Something I had worked hard for, pitching ideas, stories, scripts to employers and agents. Something that if realized would pay my bills and not leave me scraping by. And the door was still open on those creative opportunities, but at 34, when do you close it? When do you scrap what you want to do to do something you didn’t choose in the interest of being realistic?
Before my mom died, I’d worked steadily for four years. I had my foot in the door. I could have gotten on another show immediately after “Eleventh Hour” wrapped. But I chose not to. I moved home. I took care of my mother. I did the right thing. And I refuse to accept that the cost of doing the right thing is no longer being relevant to the workforce, to no longer have the capability to financially take care of myself.
I believe I am talented enough to do anything — to satisfy an employer at a media-related 9-5 (or 9-6 as it now’s become), to deliver creative ideas and well-written scripts to a television showrunner, to design websites for businesses or friends.
I refuse to believe my talents no longer have a home. Could be, it’s time for me to invent one.