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Categories: Ali Finds Her Self

So I’ve had a few days to let all this sink in, as well as to overcome an insomnia issue I’d been having even before the job loss. The latter is getting better, thanks to the right pharmacological interventions. And the former? It’s … sinking in.

Not surprisingly, I have received a lot of well-intentioned advice in the last few days. Much of it can be summarized into one very simple premise:

“Maybe this is a good thing. It’s a chance to explore new options and maybe even try something you’ve always wanted to do. There’s opportunities out there for you!” 

I can appreciate this advice. There’s truth in it. In fact, I was dissatisfied in my previous job. It’s no secret that my becoming a college instructor was not planned, but instead something that just arose out of need and the lack of other prospects for those with English degrees. I can’t count the number of times I’ve said aloud, “If I had it to do all over again, I would never have majored in English.” Not because I don’t love the subject, but because it’s dying as a viable career path.

But where does one start, when one is pushing forty and is in the middle of a major (and still socially perilous) life transition?

My first inclination is to throw myself into writing. Writing is why I majored in English in the first place — not because I wanted to teach boring college essay writing, but because I wanted to write novels and comic books and screenplays. And a common frustration for me is that, once a full day at work and kids and responsibilities is over, I just don’t have the time/energy/inclination to write anything more substantial than a blog post.

A career in writing is both easier and more difficult nowadays. It’s easier to get published, but far more difficult to get noticed or to gain profitable success from it. It requires a lot of self-promotion and a talent to write quality verbiage quickly. I’d like to think I have the latter, but I’m not so good at the former.

My second inclination is to go back to college to earn a better degree. I’ve often thought that, if I had it to do over again, I’d have gotten a computer degree — programming, or networking, or something that’s both interesting to me and currently in demand. Maybe now is the time to pursue it? But that means loans, which means debt, which means I’d better choose wisely if I don’t want to come out of a second degree as unemployable as I am now with an English degree.

I think rushing out to find some vapid, unfulfilling job in retail or service is not an option, at least not right away. I have some cushion here. I’ll cross that bridge only when I have to.

And let’s be frank: whatever I choose to do, I have to decide who I plan to do it as. I have put my legal name change on hold for now until I sort some things out, in part because job hunting means references to prior jobs, college transcripts, and other things that a resume headlined with ‘Alison’ will complicate. Not to mention that I really will have an easier time hiring into a position as Him. I will feel horrible and deceitful doing it, but if it’s what has to happen, so be it. Life requires money, which requires a job, which requires compromise. Always compromise!

The next week is going to be a rocky one, but hopefully I’ll begin to find my post-job path. I will try to find a path that doesn’t require me to compromise my identity, my Self, in the process. But in a situation like this one, all bets are off.

Soundtrack for this post: 

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