overworked, underproved

NaNoWriMo started today. I should be more excited about that, because I love attempting this project every year, even though I never finish. (Ironic, for someone who is capable of writing 250K+ words when it comes to fictional stories about superheroes.) But the truth is, finding the motivation to be excited about anything right now is hard.

It’s been that way with most things, lately: Halloween, Thanksgiving, a few press events, the fact that I have things like an LA trip and a half-marathon and Hamilton to look forward to in the coming month. It’s not that I’m not aware I have some good things to look forward to in my life, when it could be a lot worse. But I’m tired. And I’ve become someone who needs to work really hard to find the good just to get through one day. I’ve now been officially unemployed for over six months, and officially unemployed for longer than I was the last time this happened. I’ve started doing some freelance work, but my mental health has taken a significant nosedive, despite the medication and constant attempts at pulling myself out of depression. It gets worse when I job search, because the positions available are far and few between. “Overworked, underproved,” says Paul Hollywood on The Great British Bake-Off when he’s dissatisfied with a bake. What he would probably say if he were judging my resume for any job I apply for is, “overqualified, underpaid,” because that’s exactly what I’m dealing with. And let me tell you, it’s frustrating.

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I’m aware I have talent. I have a lot of people in my corner who have gone to bat for me for various positions I’ve applied for, who have put themselves on the line to help me. I have a lot of friends who have let me cry on their shoulders while dealing with their own problems, and I’m grateful to them for letting me scream into the void somewhere. But I’ve fallen into a hole that’s made it hard for me to feel any type of confidence. I try to do the things that I know can help me and the routines that keep me grounded: running, journaling, passion planner decorating. But my self-care routines aside from what I try to keep up have been horrendous. And it’s affecting me in a way that makes it hard to keep pushing forward, because there’s only so much rejection and so many endless roads of nothing that you can take before you start to wonder what your life is really going to mean. And, well. There are things I want and things I can’t move forward with until I get this part of my life figured out, and I hate that I’m in this position at my age and at this moment.

From as far back as I can remember, I was passionate about entertainment. When I interviewed for my internship at Entertainment Weekly a few years ago, I was able to craft my cover letter with mentions of all the writers and pop culture knowledge I had grown up with (and then said writers who were still there when I was employed for real became my friends/mentors/drinking buddies, and I feel forever grateful.) I can still remember the chills I would get watching one of the many films that made up my childhood, how it felt to sit in my hometown movie theater with a friend and hear that opening music from MGM or Paramount. To me, that was real.

Last week, I experienced a series of events that ended with me finding out an opportunity that I was incredibly optimistic about wasn’t going to happen. After a good cry while walking down the streets of Brooklyn in the rain with freshly cut hair (seriously, this was my “out of a movie” scene) I texted a close friend from grad school who has been going through the same kind of rough patch, and we had an impromptu diner therapy session the next morning.

Both of us have had a hard time finding a job after being let go from our current ones. Both of us are dealing with a few factors outside our control when it comes to mental health. After some complaining and letting off some steam, she told me the only thing stopping her from picking up and running away to the middle of nowhere with another grad school friend is that if she leaves now, she knows she’s giving up. She’s letting this city beat her after working so hard to succeed. And she won’t give it that satisfaction after fighting for so long.

I’m not ready to give up, either. I’ve lived here for ten years (minus a year where I displaced myself to Chicago, but it’s still ten years, dammit) and maybe I have a lot of regrets and I wish I had done things differently and I wish I was at a different place in my life right now altogether, but I’m not ready to run away or throw in the towel. I may be broken down, but I won’t let this city win. I won’t let my depression win, either. I’ll keep fighting, because that’s what I’ve been taught by friends, and comic book character, and even those that just believe in a little bit of my talent from working with me.

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