June 16, 2014 by lucieromarin
So, I’m about a year and six months into blogging about conservative Catholic recovery from burnout, and disappointment in vocation (or the lack of it.) The following are samples of what I’ve learned so far:
Don’t assume that devout people will support you. Plenty will, but, for some, any expression of hurt, disappointment or exhaustion constitutes an Attack on the Church, and, as such, must be suppressed. If you’re waiting to hear a particular friend say, “I’m so sorry; I had no idea you felt this way,” be prepared for the possibility that he or she will only tell you to be quiet and offer it up. Seriously, they don’t want to know. They can’t want to know, because acknowledging your stuff might force them to question their part in it. You have to realise, though, that they’re only trying to protect themselves; they’re not actually trying to betray you, however it feels.
You don’t have to have shared other people’s experiences to be able to learn from them. Being open to them not only stops self-evaluation from turning into closed-in preoccupation with self; it also saves you a lot of wheel-reinventing. For example, never having been raised in a compound, denied books, married at age fourteen, or forced to work eighty hour weeks for two cents an hour, there’s plenty I don’t immediately relate to in Janja and Lalich’s ‘Take Back Your Life.’ But, seriously, if people who have escaped cults in their thirties and forties – starting life again with literally no friends, no family, no education, and no formal employment behind them – don’t have something to teach us, then who does?
Expect to meet all kinds of nice people. I’ve said that you may be disappointed by one or two friends; at the same time, you can discover, not only that other friends are even more kind than you thought they were, but that people you barely even know are ready to offer kindness to you, without needing to approve all the details of your life first. The losses are real and deserve to be mourned, but they’re offset by heartening surprises and eye-opening discoveries, and it’s important to make sure that a bizarre feeling of loyalty to that which you’ve lost doesn’t obscure the value of everything you’re about to gain. Personally, I find it easy to let the feeling of missing people or regretting lost time take over everything. So, for example I look at potential new friends and simply feel sad that they are not my old friends. Well, this is a mistake! Don’t do it!
Terrible as it is to be in your late-thirties and wondering what you’re going to live off in your old age, and true as it is that a hand-to-mouth existence is a bad plan, and that prospective employers prefer resumes that look like they’re going somewhere, it is also true that, these days, the words, “It’s time for a change,” sound perfectly convincing in a job interview. Yes, there are limits to how many unrelated jobs you can have in a row, but you don’t need to worry that the mere fact that you’re old will instantly doom your chances, because it won’t!
Having said that, do expect to find it weird – and dispiriting, at times – to be surrounded by young people! All the other people your age are in management, while you’re starting at the beginning etc etc and it can feel awkward. It’s like singing at weddings and noticing the brides getting younger and younger. There’s nothing for it but to channel the Cure of Ars, because the alternative is to fall into the trap of thinking you actually need to be young again, and that way lies terrible mistakes such as trying to look or behave fifteen years younger than you are, which fools nobody, and makes you look far, far worse than if you’d stayed old and classy.
Don’t despair of your past. A life empty of vocation can come to feel entirely empty, and, when the effort expended on vocation seems to have been wasted, you can assume that every aspect of your past was wasted, too, especially where your career is concerned. I have, during the past fifteen years, increasingly regretted the almost-total waste of time that was my degree, which qualified me for nothing, yet still makes me look over-qualified on job applications. I’ve also loudly, openly and repeatedly bemoaned the fact that I couldn’t major in Linguistics – which is the most interesting subject on the planet – because my mathematics is so poor. Then, only last week, nine weeks into a so-far-so-good new job, I found myself being told “Oh, I see. You’re having real trouble with your plosives,” and realising, not only that I understood my trainer, but that the beloved subject I’d mourned for twenty years was suddenly part of my daily life, in the context of a profession that barely existed two decades ago, and that I only discovered four months ago, by accident.
Consolidate your super. If your focus on vocation has caused you to have a kind of chequered employment history, the chances are you have multiple superannuation accounts. I riffled through my paperwork and found I had four. Well, when you’re facing a massive reevaluation of your finances, pretty much anything you can do to give you a sense of control is important, because developing that sense of control can be the first step to actually taking control, if that makes sense. So, even if your accounts are so empty that it hardly seems worth caring about them, just consolidate them, and enjoy the sense of pulling your messy past into some kind of order, which bodes well for the future.
Discover vegan nail-polish! Okay, I’m kind of joking here, but I’m also kind of not-joking, too. Most of us cannot afford to discover ourselves by leaving everything behind and moving to a Tuscan villa. So, a little bit of restrained pampering, a little experimentation with colour, and the equally pleasant feelings of looking nice and not poisoning yourself with formaldehyde are a great substitute for a sojourn in Italy!