The Time Traveler’s Lament | 2
There is something pleasant in the sound of leaves rustling in the wind. As the sun begins its slow descent toward the horizon, dipping in and out of the gathering storm clouds, I can sense the closing of another summer’s day.
It gives me peace, knowing that such a calm and quiet ending arrives as yet another chapter of my life — brief though it may have been — closes.
… So I quit my job today. I’d been mulling it over for weeks but held off, trying desperately to find, something — anything — that might not only pay a living wage but give enough hours that I could support myself.
I’d been scouring job listings and sending in resumes, applications, and cover letters. I’d been waiting weeks, if not months, for a single reply. Taking civil service exams and job placement surveys — nothing.
And then it hit me, the source of the anxiety. Somewhere along the line I had been conditioned, or I had conditioned myself, to believe that I needed an employer before I could begin to use the skills, experience, and knowledge I have gained these last ten years. I truly felt that it was only through an employer that the use of my Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, my Minor in French, my Master’s in Public Policy, and my extensive community organizing and volunteer work would be recognized —
Apologies for the laundry list of credentials. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m not an imposter. That I did that.
But I digress. Employers — do I need them to tell me to write white papers and policy memos? to conduct research? to write grants? to share my knowledge? to advocate for policies that will benefit marginalized peoples? to meet with public officials and lawmakers? to break bread with members of my own community? to validate my experience?
Would I ever find true validation of my worth from those who require that I jump through hoops to prove it? Those, who ask me to perform for them in one interview after another for a job that will barely pay for rent and food? Those, who have a vested interest in paying me as little as they must to actualize the full potential of my stress-induced productivity?
Make it make sense, I say to myself.
But there is a simple, frightening answer to all these questions: No, I will not find validation there. The world will not look at a queer, magickal black woman like me and tell her that she is beautiful. That she is intelligent and capable. That she is worthy.
Instead they will — as they always have — look at the excellence I have borne upon my shoulders these past 28 years — or has it been centuries that this body has carried whole civilizations without rest — and they will tell me to try harder if I want the carrot they dangle in front of my face as I starve.
Breathe, I say to myself…
I can hear the crows calling to one another outside. My cat looks up at me from her favorite spot on the floor, her eyes questioning and curious as always. I look from her to my art easel gathering dust across the room and I can feel my fingers aching to pick up a brush and paint more color onto the latest piece.
I refrain. If I am to tell you my story, dear reader, I must learn discipline once again. This world that we call home is so perfectly strange, but so exhausting. My soul has not yet acclimated to this timeline. And there is so much work to do, if myself and my fellow travelers are to be successful in our purpose.
I still have to eat. To collect these useless cotton talismans we call currency.
I suppose it is time, again, to struggle.