Skip to content

Confessions of an Unemployable

April 11, 2011

Confession number 1. Honestly, I’d never thought it would come to this. A good twenty years ago, I pictured myself by this time in life, having a carefree career; surrounded by inspiring and stimulating colleagues and working at a job I thoroughly enjoyed and loved. Forever learning, forever growing…

Confession number 2. I’m job-snobby. All along my career path, I carefully avoided falling into the spiralling trap of working just to stay-a-float. Only to now find myself ten months into a data-pushing copy & paste job. The kind of work, we nickname a McJob: low-level, low-salary, no opportunities, no challenges and zilch satisfaction.

Manual Labour
Acknowledging and celebrating Manual Labour.

Snobby as I am, I’m ashamed of what I do. And hell will have to freeze over first, before I ever add this experience to my resume.

And yes. This is against the well-intentioned advice of job counsellors. And yes. I know what I’m doing; I have yet to meet the employer who overlooks (aka appreciates) this career-slide.

It’s a dirty job…

Still I wouldn’t be me, if somewhere I didn’t also feel guilty for acting up like a spoiled brat. “Sure it’s a dirty job. And sure someone has to do it; but does that someone really have to be me? I mean, I’m an educated and intelligent woman. I deserve better than this total dead-end excuse for a job.”

And it’s at this stage in my whining, I’d think of my parents. Both highly intelligent people and both manual labourers. And they were proud of the work they did. This brings me to Mike Rowe’s TED talk on celebrating dirty jobs.

In a 20-minutes space Rowe shares his insights on the nature of hard work. At the same time reminding us of how we’ve unjustifiably degraded it along the way.

Anagnorisis and Peripeteia

Rowe also discusses two philosophical concepts: anagnorisis and peripeteia. Anagnorisis is literally that eureka moment, when you transit from ignorance to knowledge. Peripeteia is what follows; your turning point in life.

Last confession. Rowe’s talk gave me my lucid moment. I too have declared war on manual labour; albeit silently and mostly in my head. As a result I scorn work that I deem to be low-level, while on the other hand I very well know that I’ve got it wrong. Skilled labour is just as necessary as intellectual labour. None exceeds the other. They are the two sides of the same coin.

Alas, a change in attitude —my peripeteia, is taking it’s time to kick in. Every inch of me rejects manual labour. And every inch of me longs to do intellectual work that I’m passionate about. More importantly, every inch of me rejects feeling underemployed.

Identity crisis

In the end my story boils down to me struggling with my (somewhat foolish) pride, snobbishness, guilt and shame vs my stifling fear of forever remaining either unemployed or underemployed. In short, it’s my own little coming-of-silver-age identity crisis.

Though a dilemma of the times, it’s certainly no comfort to know I’m not the only one out there. As a reader of this post, I suspect you’re probably either one of or somehow interested in ‘The New Unemployables’.

So feel free to respond. Please. Do share your thoughts on this emerging tribe of confused (and maybe even somewhat emotionally scarred) over 40s.

Bonus: Tongue-in-Cheek

Generally I dislike action movies: they’re low on plot and full on noise. But like most women (my age), I hereby fully confess to having a soft spot for Bruce Willis.


Adding the RED movie-trailer is my tongue-in-cheek way of saying that Bruce Willis and Helen Mirren are not the only ‘grans’ out there with a lot of bite in them.

Related posts to read on IVICHIE SAYS:
Another day
Playing the blame game
Angry Old Woman
Telltale poker face

Other interesting Read-Listen-Watch:
Baby Boomers: America’s new unemployables
Living Longer: The job market
Why retiring is too much like hard work
Quality of work as relevant to health as no job at all
Over 50s ‘forced into early retirement’ [AUDIO | 2 minutes]
In search of the cross-age female role model [VIDEO | 2 minutes]

If you like this post, I’d really appreciate it if you’d share it with anyone you believe might like it too. Thank you! And if you’d like to share your thoughts on it, don’t hesitate to comment below. Please, do visit again or just sign up to Ivichie Says and be notified by email of any new posts.

Here’s how we can stay in touch:

Connect with me on FacebookLet's join our Professional Networks on LinkedIn

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 21, 2011 12:49

    Dear Sherry, I relate to what you say. Even so, what I miss most is working in a team on a concept from scratch. To then see it grow as a result of everyone’s input. I really enjoy those unique ‘collaborative moments’ when we’re all on the edge; pushing for the deadline. It’s probably the adrenaline… 🙂

    Thanks for subscribing!

    Greetings, Evita


    • May 21, 2011 14:18

      Ohhh, I see. You know, I led projects like that, from feasibility to launch, for so many years that now that I am older, I am tired. I don’t miss it. I’ve turned into a wimp! I don’t want to do it anymore. I admire that you have the stamina and desire to still do it!


    • May 21, 2011 14:25

      To each (wo)man her/his own drug. 😉
      Greetings, Evita


  2. May 20, 2011 16:48

    Hello, Evita, this was a marvelous post. I have to say that I can fully relate. I turned to freelance writing out of defense, but was able to land some phenomenal jobs for quite a while and loved it. Now, I’m back to job hunting again — freelance and brick-and-mortar — and would be satisfied with anything at this point.

    I am still job-snobby, though — still working through that issue, but maybe not for long …


    • May 20, 2011 17:19

      Dear Sherry,
      Thanks! How brave you are to take on freelance writing. Even if it was out of defence. I tried to work as a freelancer years ago —in another field; and failed miserably. Mostly because I found it to be a very lonely existence. I like interacting with colleagues of different background and ages. Nice to know I’m not the only job-snob around. 🙂
      Greetings, Evita


    • May 21, 2011 09:19

      I know what you mean, Evita, I am a very social animal, too. I’ve found online avenues for that through LinkedIn by connecting to innumerous freelancers and joining a ton of groups, which helps a lot. I also have a hoard of “friends” on Facebook with which I communicate. With the freelancing and not having to spend so much time on the road going to/from work, I’m freed up to cultivate friendships in my small community — did not have time for that before. It’s been an overall big plus. Although I did socialize at work quite a bit before; now, I socialize even more at home!

      I also wanted to say that I find your candor quite refreshing. There are a lot more out there like us than you might think. Btw, I subscribed to your blog here.


Come on. Have your say. What's your take?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: