Tuesday, December 31, 2013

[One for the Books]

And thus, with the click of a mouse, I join the thousands (millions?) of people making lists and reflecting over the past year on New Year's Eve. I meant to last year, and I still have the post in draft form, but for whatever reason, the thoughts would not form coherently enough for me to click that orange "Publish" button. But if I thought 2012 was a doozy of a year, I had no idea what 2013 had in store for me.

The Year of the Roller Coaster

Nah, not the real thing--I haven't been able to ride them anyway since my migraines became what they are today. More along the lines of the ups and downs. Oh, my, yes, every year is a roller coaster year. I can't get away from the fact that my even saying it's a been one is the ultimate cliché. Though, if truth be told, I'm pretty sure this particular RC was an underground RC, because there were a lot more downs than ups. Yup, this was the year of disillusionment.

In fact, the main reason I haven't been posting on here (now that my brain is working clearly enough to identify my motivations) was because I didn't want to be a downer. Yes, I know--you didn't know I had such a filter, did you? Oh, but I do, and there's a lot that goes through my mind and my emotions that comes nowhere near the internet. But, for tonight, the filters are set to low, so here goes:

On the job front, my hours grew smaller, and despite sending out dozens and dozens (no exaggeration, I promise) of résumés, all of which were quite respectable (unfortunately, so are my competitions' as well...), the only hiring that happened was on a freelance or per-project basis. Most companies didn't bother to respond at all, but the ones who did, well, they were kind in their rejection, but consistent:
Dear Nicole:

Thank you for your expression of interest in the [position] and for taking the time to apply. After careful consideration we have decided to pursue other candidates for this particular role. However, your background and experience may be a fit for a future opening. We invite you to view and apply to other career opportunities, update your resume and profile, and view the status of your application for any other open positions for which you may have already applied via the appropriate link below.
 Meanwhile, in the comments sections of every job-related or ACA-related article I read, I saw red as I read people say in the most casual of ways, "Well, if you don't like your job or it doesn't pay you enough, find a new one!" Yeah, like it's that easy. Instead, I watch people who happen to have connections getting the jobs I've worked to be eligible to earn after more or less deciding, "Oh, hey, I like books," and with little other preparation, step right into the dream job. Don't get me wrong--I don't begrudge them getting to do the job. I just find myself frustrated that I don't get a chance, even when I'm technically a stronger candidate, simply because I don't have friends (or relatives) in high places.

As recent as this month, I've realized that, barring something drastic occurring in my favor, my art dream is no longer going to happen... again. Without enough income (and frankly, I'm not sure if I'll have enough income to even pay my mortgage this upcoming semester), I can't take the classes, and it was a degree that was already going to take me at least eight years to finish. So it's been the year of realizing that, in a world of where a few people get to go for it, I'm not one of them. At least, not as far as I can see.

The year was even more disheartening on a personal level. In 2012, my dad was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, and this year, I've been watching his decline. He and my mom have been working to make sure she'll be okay when he passes on and the monthly income drops by 60%. This also means a lot of their reminding me that they "won't be able to help [me] anymore pretty soon," so guilt trips (and financial reality fears) galore. Y'know, as if it weren't killing me enough just on the personal "my daddy is sick" level.

Oh, and social life? Barring one birthday trip to visit my best friend in KC in October, and being the photographer for another close friend's wedding earlier this month, there has been no social life whatsoever. It's been a year of working, sleeping (not enough), and getting over being sick (as I spent at least a third or more of the year sick or battling some of my worst migraines). I mean, really--nothing. Besides most of my friends now being parents of small children or living too far away, I don't have any disposable income, so going out was, well, out.

So, maybe it wasn't the year of the roller coaster. I mean, I did have some good moments, for sure, but not enough to keep my sense of optimism or idealism intact. I've become pretty jaded, especially in the last few months. I'd say it was the year of the hermit, being annoyed by excessive clickbait (I mean, seriously! It's driving me nuts!), wasted effort, clashes between wanting what's best for myself and having to compromise or give up entirely...

Okay, short version: 2013 sucked balls. There, I said it. 2014 sure as hell better be better, or 2015 may see me checked in at a mental institution (if there are any left), though I'm not sure if I'll be catatonic or frantic. I know this: I can't keep going this way. Something has to change, and soon. I'm at my wits' end, and I hate feeling trapped and like I have no say in my own life, both of which I feel at the moment (and have for awhile). If I didn't get to snuggle with Sassy every night, I'd have lost it a long time ago.

See why I haven't written in so long? Yeah. Here's hoping for a change soon.

Peace to you and yours.

-Niki

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