I’d be lying if I said things have been easy around here lately. I spent most of last week laid up in bed with a high fever and the better part of the weekend acting out the final scenes from Moulin Rouge, except with more coughing and less corsets/duets with Ewan McGregor. When I’m sick, I become an everything-is-wrong-with-everything pessimist, so I also picked a few unnecessary fights with Michael and had one fever-induced meltdown on the couch while elbow-deep in a bowl of Velveeta. Suffice to say, I needed Amanda‘s post today. Because as someone who tends to get bogged down in all the things going wrong, it’s important for me to remember that it’s in these moments when I usually find myself most clearly. And finding the joy in the little things often leads to being the big things that bring me joy.
The last three and a half years have been full of huge life changes. I became a vet, I moved countries (for the third time in my life), I got married, I lived in a farm, I helped deliver calves multiple times and stayed awake waiting for cows to give birth, checking for signs of labor at regular intervals, which meant almost no sleep. I interned at a small-animal clinic and worked as a research assistant at a virology lab as well as at a call-center and at the web content department of a very big hotel reservations company.
When I put it that way you would not be able to tell that I have been dealing with unemployment or underemployment for about as long as I’ve been in my adopted new country, and how awfully hard it has been. I have two scientific degrees that took lots of work and time to earn. In these three and a half years I have not stopped applying for jobs, and I haven’t been sitting around waiting either. I have been busy with internships or working at the random jobs I have managed to find. Just two weeks ago I heard I did not get a PhD position that was a perfect fit both with my studies and my experience (working with cows, in reproduction, both subjects that fascinate me), and I was told I was among the best three. It’s not the first time I get that feedback. How are we supposed to get experience if no one gives us a chance, takes a risk on us?
A few weeks ago, in desperation, I went to several placement agencies to look for anything, maybe customer service. (I am after all, fluent in four languages and I understand quite well another two.) I was told there are very few positions and employers are getting very, very picky.
I always thought we should fight for what we want. I was taught that if you do what you love, if you do your best, the opportunities will come, that it was possible to love your job, to do what you like, that you should not limit your dreams. Maybe I am living in fantasyland. Maybe it is stupid to keep hoping to work in my field of study. I wish I had a magic ball, I wish I could see the future. I wish someone would tell me when or how this will end. I wish I could know that if I wait long enough I will get there. Or that no matter how long I wait, it won’t happen. I do not mind working a “different” job, though there is a part of me that feels it would kill my soul, and I feel like I am dying a bit already. But this is real life.
If you add to the equation the fact that we have been dealing with what the medical community refers to as infertility (though I refuse to use the term) for two and a half years now you’ll understand how often I have felt like I am failing at being a woman on all fronts. I don’t have the career (or am anywhere close to getting there) and I don’t seem to be able to accomplish the most feminine of tasks (according to societal expectations), namely, making people.
And yet, life is good. This long period of time has made me question everything. It has made me very aware of who I am, and has made me realize, as cliché as it sounds, that joy really is in the little things: cooking, walks in the park, inviting friends over, babysitting for our neighbors’ kids, traveling (and you don’t have to go far away…it’s about discovering new places, many of which are hidden gems, close by). It has made me discover my creative side—realize that I am not defined by the diplomas I earned at university, that I am valuable for much more than that. I have been able to take the time to explore and discover new passions: photography, baking, painting, writing. More than anything I am learning that we only have to take it one day at a time, that living in the moment, being present is always within our reach. And that hope, loving each other fiercely and actively searching for the little happy moments in the little things of everyday even (or perhaps more so) at the hardest moments, will get us through all of this—even though as of right now I don’t even know how our story will end.