(Reed’s Playlist for the occasion: Enemy of the World by Four Year Strong)
It’s with a certain sense of sobriety and gravity that I write this post.
Today is officially my last day working at the UCLA library. I’m sitting at my desk, a half hour past the end of my last shift, and although I’ve done this countless times before to write posts, it feels like there’s some kind of a death this time.
I guess the library was a great way for me to extend that gap year, to be able to stay on campus amidst the hub of things, hearing from the students and living by the ferocious rules of the quarter system. Now, knowing that (in my infinite laziness) I probably won’t be coming back onto campus very often, I’m realizing that this was a well-masked ploy to try to pretend I was still in college for as long as possible.
Tomorrow, I won’t be going to work. I won’t have to wake up at any particular time, or get anything in particular done. And if you know me, you will understand how much that scares the shit out of me.
I’ve always felt my life was built around the concepts of momentum and inertia – I had a “core” existence with “core” friends, activities, and habits, and I stuck with them unless something forced me to move in a different direction. For instance, when my grades started dropping in my second year of college, I found the strength to finally exert real, honest effort in my academics to bring my GPA back up in my third and fourth years.
But in between those stark moments of push, where I gather momentum and keep it moving towards something greater, I find myself slowing down. I grow content with the simple things, and I stop trying to make improvements.
I’m not the kind of person to stress out over not making the most of my life. If I could spend the rest of my days watching Netflix with my girlfriend, playing D&D with my apartment, and messing around with writing, I know I would. So believe me when I say that this unemployment period is a real, tangible threat to self-improvement.
It’s also an opportunity.
For the last week or two, I’ve been gearing myself up. I’ve been trying to shake off memories of an unsuccessful job hunt at 16 that caused me to believe I wouldn’t be an asset at a company. I’ve been networking like I never have before, making connections both on and off UCLA campus, trying to forge my future in a communications field. It’s an unprecedented burst of that momentum, and right when I’ve needed it.
I intend to continue that momentum. I’m aiming for improvements far beyond what I’ve dared to imagine for myself before. And, oddly enough, that starts with the dumb little things. I have nothing to do for eight hours every day? Then I’m gonna fill it with all those things I told myself I would do when I had time.
Bitches, I’m gonna exercise every day. And I’m gonna hate myself for it.
I’m gonna write every goddamn day. Blog posts and creative writing, and even a bit of freelance copy if I can get a job or two. You don’t need to hold me to it – I’ll do it myself.
I refuse to let myself get complacent, knowing what it will mean for my life and my self-confidence. I reject the idea that I am not worthy of a job, or a publishing credit.
I used to see posts like this all the time – I still do, on writing forums and on the discussion section of the James Patterson MasterClass page. A whole bunch of people saying, “This is the day I start writing every day.” I remember how it felt to look at those posts and know, know, in my heart that I wouldn’t be that kind of person.
If you’re reading this right now and thinking that same thing, I feel for you. I know I wouldn’t be able to – haven’t been able to, historically – do something like this if I wasn’t facing a few months of unemployment. So don’t you dare tell yourself that you’re a failure just because you’re not ready for something like this. Someday, you will be. Hell, maybe a few weeks from now I’ll be back to writing three posts a week and cringing internally that I had the audacity to say this. I’m human after all.
But damn everything if I’m not gonna give it a try.
Believe in yourself, please. And if you can’t, find a group of loved ones who will believe in you. They’ll keep you on the positive until you’re ready to try for yourself.
Here’s to unemployment, and all the good and bad it can bring.