When Your Job Makes You Want to Toss it All In and Become a Mail-Order Bride…

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November 1, 2013 by lucieromarin

…then it’s time to look for a better job. I don’t say this lightly; I know there’s a semi-fantastical world out there in which people earn enough to buy houses, and cars (heck, they earn enough to be able to buy shoes) and still feel they don’t have enough, but for some of us, the reality of employment is otherwise. And for those of us who were trained to seek vocation, rather than profession, it’s easy to scrape along from one boring, low-paying job to the next, simply because you haven’t the faintest clue how to climb out of a ditch that feels more like a gorge.

First, I’ll tell you what you don’t need:

1) To be clever. There are only three circumstances in which a sharp intellect is a bonus. They are the following:

1.1 Heaven. Intellects are not all created equal. The better yours is, the more illumination it will enjoy. Sorry. That eternal bliss is the reward for never getting noticed at parties in this life, because all our beauty is on the inside.

1.2 Studying Thomism. An aptitude for philosophy is a great blessing – not only does it save you from wandering into all kinds of errors, it gives you an enduring source of intellectual joy. The one time in my life I experienced anything like an intellectual satiation was at the end of the world’s most amazing class on potency and act. I walked out of that class feeling absolutely whole: complete, radiant, and suddenly attuned to the whole of reality.

It’s wonderful. It is not, however, lucrative.

1.3 Enjoying the company of other clever people (provided they’re also humble and kind.) You get to enjoy more books and more jokes and more sharing of both.

However, I can tell you know that cleverness is not the deciding factor when it comes to settling into a profession. Obviously it helps sometimes, but it will get you nowhere if you don’t also have the following qualities:

1) Self-esteem

So, you’re crawling home from work after yet another tongue-lashing, wondering where your old bubbly self has disappeared to? Or you’ve spent your life telling yourself or being told that you were good for nothing? Or you have scruples about praising yourself in job interviews because that feels like boastfulness? Or, worst of all, you suffer from all of the above?

I actually don’t know how it can be conquered. All I can tell you is that it must be conquered. The first few months in any new job are awful; to survive them, you need to be able to assume that you’ll be fine shortly. To interview well, you need to be able to present yourself with confidence. And to apply for the job in the first place, you need to be able to read a set of selection criteria and think, ‘Yes, I could do that.’

2) Practical skills

Without these, you’re doomed. The same goes for creativity. All those people you envy because they have their own art or craft businesses aren’t enjoying their successes simply because they’re bright. They’re enjoying them because they can do practical things such as spin wool, build a database, use a phone without breaking into a sweat, manage an inventory and maybe even a payroll, and then speak nicely to the customer who wants to buy handspun. No employer cares whether or not you can prove what’s True or demonstrate the Real. He cares whether or not you can wash dishes, take minutes, make noodles, bandage wounds, pack boxes, change nappies, or calculate a formula in Excel. Meanwhile, those of us not making livings out of our creative talents actually have something more like a burden than a gift, for it means that you’ll spend your life standing at registers while your heart is miles away, with your novel or your sculpture or your music.

3) Resilience

Because every workplace has its resident pyscho. Because eight times out of ten that psycho will be your manager. Because job interviews are dispiriting. Because people say, “Are you still working at…” and then say, “Oh, I’m sorry. Hopefully one day you’ll have a better job. Because one day you’ll put on your Job Interview Dress and realise that it doesn’t fit you anymore. Because the past cannot be retrieved. And because the only options for dealing with this are a) to retreat into your shell, until you can’t even face the thought of getting out of bed, or b) to keep going.

So – think proud and think practical!

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