Confessions of an Unemployable
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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