Fitting in vs. being boxed in vs. wanting to be free

How does ‘follow your dreams’ and ‘find a job’ fit into all of this?

I ask myself that often.

Tomorrow I’m meeting up with two job consultants for an obligatory meeting relating to my period of unemployment and subsequent benefit.

And, yeah, in my country I can get financial benefit from the government for being unemployed. How very ‘depressing’, indeed. But you must understand the terms of condition that come with this ‘benefit’. It is very demanding and limited concerning whatever freedom and ideas you might have job-wise. The government doesn’t spend money on people freely, after all. By principle, it’s only fair, but you need to follow strict guidelines and can’t do any volunteering unless it’s humanitarian. Even the possibilities of working freelance and part-time have been tightened. It puts you in a very limited space of finding a paid, full-time job that isn’t just cleaning or working behind a counter in a cafe or supermarket.

And yet, I can’t complain when I’m still getting paid by the welfare system, can I? No. But am I any happier after almost two years of unemployment, trying my best to find my way through the system? No.

Digressing, this meeting tomorrow has ‘forced’ me out of my usual, melancholic bubble of denying my own reality and what I should probably do about it. *scoffs* Yeah, I live a hard, utterly spoiled life.

I’m not sure whether to confess my battle with my insecurities and depression to the job consultants in order to explain my inability to find a job. Should I tell them my struggle with finding a goal in life and wanting to be happy while also desperately wanting to please those around me, fit in [the system] and not be a disappointment?

It would be my most honest reply to any question they might pose and probably help them give me some honest advice in return (hopefully).

*sighs*

But, aside from this, I also have to acknowledge to myself that it is my life, my only life, and that I should be allowed to be happy – since I actually know what would make me happy – however silly and unambitious they may sound – and that I have the means and the privileges to make at least some of it happen. In truth, I don’t believe I’m that hard to please regarding how I live; that I could live much simpler than I do now (not that I live in a mansion or anything now) and that I don’t need much in life other than my few creature comforts. My own little cottage and a dog would be nice, too.

So, I started pondering if my underlying need to please my surroundings (and thus the system; fitting in and all that) and my fear of disappointing and not have high enough ambitions in a world of privileges has caught me in this system and my system of thinking (huh, how meta) – together with my depression as well. And that all these elements hold me down from enjoying an alternative freedom that might make me happier.

Somewhere in that question, I sense that I’ve found my answer.

What would happen if I thought entirely alternatively? If I reinvented my life? (To use a total platitude). If I gave up what I have now, my apartment and unemployment benefit, and invested in what I want (cue such sentimental wishes as the cottage and the dog), damn the conventional consequences! Made my own terms, my own money, however small. I’m not big on finance and I may be way too naive to think this can go around, but, after all, I don’t need much.

Other people have done it before me.

Part of that dream/happiness also include a social aspect as I’ve talked about before; of finding true company in life; romantic partners, friends, colleagues, etc.. I’ve lately come to realize that I need this kind of social interaction; more consistently, more intimately, so to speak. But that part must come when it comes. I can’t exactly force it, after all. The other parts are more easily attainable.

Just having this dream, this alternative gives me a inner sense of peace and comfort that I haven’t found anywhere else yet, though I have no practical experience in how to go about it and make it happen. Still, it’s not impossible, I believe.

This thought of an alternative lifestyle takes me back to my innermost questions; my own, singled-out voice asking: ‘What do you want to do?’ which in turn always returns to my consistent desire to write. It is the one thing I’ve always enjoyed, though I’ve always thought it a futile thing to voice or wish for because it seems so general and something anyone could do; voice an opinion. ‘Not something anyone would or should get paid for,’ says the pessimistic voice in my head. A voice I too often listen to and fall victim for, because I don’t have the courage or the will to fight it.

But then I tried to ignore the voice (for once) and stayed with the thought of writing. Of actually trying to make a living out of it.

So, that lead me to the hypothetical idea of becoming a professional blogger. An idea I’ve previously had in the back of my mind and brushed aside time and time again. An idea which comes with many ambivalent feelings and thoughts, all the different voices returning, telling me different things. On the one side, it’s a most natural and comforting idea, because I’ve blogged – on an amateur level – for years now. On the other side, I guess I still feel the idea is somewhat tabooed, not a real-real job, despite the job landscape has changed drastically in the last two decades. Blogging has become a legitimate job where people can make tons of money, sometimes by simply yelling in a computer game or reviewing the newest mascara on the market.

However, I don’t want to make your usual glossy, Instagram-worthy blog of cute cupcakes and the latest fashion trends. Not that there’s anything wrong with those. But I want to make something that’s my own. Something real, critical, humorous and frank. I want to analyse and discuss art, politics, people, culture, media, TV, etc.. I want to create constructive discussions and, hopefully, change attitudes. Even my own. I don’t want to be afraid to voice an opinion in a public forum as myself. (After all, it’s different with blogs like these, where I can stay fairly anonymous).

Am I wrong to put so many ideals into a project like this?

I admit, being a teacher would sound like the most ideal, concrete job for me in this regard, and it’s not something I haven’t thought of, but I’m still struggling in my (INTP) insecurity regarding the responsibility of teaching. I’m not entirely comfortable with the authority of lecturing and ‘placing my wisdom upon others’. I may be overthinking this way too much, but I just don’t think I’m there yet. I’m still a child of learning and of the world. I’m not sure I could be confident enough to be a convincing teacher yet, if you catch my drift.

Anyways.

I’m still not sure how much of this will be mentioned at the meeting tomorrow. Sometimes such frank thoughts and feelings just come out by themselves because I don’t have the strength to fight them (sensing a theme here?). At other times, I am too embarrassed to ‘fess up and show my insecurity and I just clam up and remain curt in my responses, pretending everything is fine. The former is probably more productive but I can’t help cringing every time it happens because I literally just blurt out things with a helpless, resigned attitude, unable to stop myself.

How very INTP.

I may return with an update tomorrow.

***09/04/18 UPDATE***

Ah, folks, here comes the update you never asked for: The meeting went as expected. Nothing new to report. No grand confession on my part. It was all very calm, business-like. I got a few extra tips regarding my CV and an underlying message of ‘it’s about time to get your shit together’. (No surprise). I get it. I really need to decide on something.

And, in a way, through this reflective post, I have. However slow the realization may have arrived.

I don’t know if it has something to do with this day and age, my generation, or if it’s just me, but I feel my problem of ‘being stuck’ all goes deeper; that it’s something very personal I’m struggling with regarding finding a goal, a job, a career. I’m so painfully introspective and, as I said, I’m rather slow to figure out my life and what I want with it – at a fairly late age, maybe – and belatedly acknowledged that I do not have these big concrete ambitions or visions … Although, you could argue that those ideas I mentioned above are somewhat concrete. After all, I’m far from indifferent or despondent; I would like to contribute and do something good for society, but I think it should be on my own terms and at my own pace. I have probably been a bit caught up in this mindset of trying to find a goal that could also meet the expectations around me and maybe even feeling a little trapped in the unemployment benefit system and not daring to think or throw myself into something alternative. I think I must stop trying to fit in (how often haven’t I told myself so?). It has only seemed like an obstacle so far. I just think I have to think in brand new lanes and instead ask myself what will make me happy, first and foremost, rather than trying make others happy about my decisions in life, simultaneously.

At least, for now.

Over and out.

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