Half Agony, Half Hope

Half Agony, Half Hope

August 2015 has been the most stressful month of my life to-date. That is a fact. On August 1, we started the adoption process (yay!). On August 6, I learned that I am being let go on October 6 (?!?!). I could go into lots of detail about both of these things, but suffice it to say that, in the words of my beloved Jane Austen, “I am half agony, half hope.” I’m trying so hard to focus on the hope. And so, I wrote this:

The Tightrope

They say the way is narrow and lined with rocks.

It’s narrow alright, and on either side, a terrifying chasm.

It’s a rickety bridge of ropes and broken boards,

And at the canyon’s bottom, sharp rocks and rushing water,

But my Lord is holding my hand.

He’s walking with me, carrying me,

And I am trying not to look down.

He asks me, gently, to fix my eyes on him

As he leads me across this tightrope

Above the never-ending abyss.

He whispers that I will not fall,

And commands his angels to guard below.

I do not know the way,

Or how long it will take,

Or how much more difficult the journey will be.

But I do know that I can close my eyes,

And worry not, because he is with me always.

My Lord will lead me home.

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This is why we have our Faith.

So many things in life are completely out of our control. I don’t know about you, but right now I feel like I’m at the breaking point. There’s way too much stress and not enough things that I can actually enjoy. Today I made a list of all the things that are bringing me down that I can’t do much about. Then, I made a list of what I can do to make my life better.

Trying to cheer myself up in the midst of all the turmoil in the world and upheaval in my life, I decided to start spending more time doing something I’ve always loved. I’ve decided to read more. I’ve decided to learn more of the skills I need to get the job I really want. As for my living situation, I can’t afford to improve it in the traditional sense, and I can’t move in with James since we’re not married yet, but I can make a plan to make myself a home. I can stay out of the house as long as possible. I can stay at libraries and Panera’s and Starbuck’s writing on my laptop (that I have yet to buy). I know it sounds ridiculous, but I need to do something. I really want a home. No, I’m not “homeless” in the traditional sense, but we had to leave our house in the mortgage crisis and move in with my grandmother, and I’ve felt “without a home” since December 2010. Isn’t there a psychological term for that? I need to do something.

I will not be “homeless” forever. James has been the one constant in the last year, and every time I’m with him, I feel at home. No, we still don’t have a wedding date. But as soon as he gets a job we’ll set one, and then I’ll have a light at the end of the tunnel. Right now I’m still in an “S” curve. His uncle (a priest) encouraged us to pray 1,000 Memorare’s to the Blessed Virgin. We’re coming close to 500 this week. I’ve always believed in the power of prayer. It has never failed me in the past. I know God doesn’t always answer things in the way you’d like him to, and he always has his reasons. Still though, this has been a serious test of faith. Praying for a job is starting to feel like praying for a pony.

My mom says that her father always told her that times like these are why we have our faith. I have to constantly remind myself that God has a plan and that this isn’t as stupid and meaningless and hopeless as it seems. Maybe there’s an answer I haven’t found yet. I hope it’s coming soon.

Wedding Brain

Lately I’ve been having a terrible time trying to concentrate on things. Whenever I go to dinner with people, my brain is in another place and I feel flighty and uncool. This Saturday, I thought my car was stolen in Silver Spring, until I realized that I was in the completely wrong section of the parking lot. My friend who was with me smiled and said, “You have wedding brain!”

Is that what they call it? We’ve been engaged for almost 6 months, and the planning is driving me crazy, probably because we don’t have a date yet and I’m starting to feel very scared and nervous. It was our choice not to set a date until James got a job, and it’s a good choice for us in this economy, but the waiting is driving me crazy. Everyone’s been suggesting that I go ahead and plan as much as possible without a date so that when we’re ready, all we have to do is book everything and go.

So, how much of a wedding can you plan before you have a date?

A lot, actually. You just can’t finalize anything. For example, you can pick your bridal party, but it might be smart not to ask anyone until after you have a date, that way they can decide if they can commit or not. You can design your ceremony (as Catholics, this means we get to pick the readings we want, the music, and the blessings). You can decide what sort of favor you want. You can design centerpieces and table settings. You can even pick your dress. It’s still nerve-racking though. I wonder how many other engaged couples got shafted by the economy?

We’re praying really hard that something works out soon. Hopefully it won’t take too much longer. We’re praying my dad’s miracle St. Jude/Sacred Heart novena, which has never failed. Recently we got the family on board, asking around to see if anyone knows of any openings in our area. And I do think that this experience will be worth it in the end. I can already see how we’ve become stronger because of it. Maybe dealing with snags during engagement helps people prepare for better marriages in the long run. I’ll keep trusting that God knows what he’s doing, and everything happens for a reason.

Was College Even Worth It?

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that people should be highly educated. Yet after graduating magna cum laude, I’m still unemployed 14 months after graduation. Meanwhile, I’m scraping together what I can from freelancing to keep up with ridiculously high student loan payments. Really they wouldn’t be bad at all if I had a job. But… where’s the job?

As it turns out, I’m not alone. The New York Times did a piece today about someone who graduated in 2008 and is still unemployed. But that lucky s-o-b was actually offered a $40,000/year job and turned it down because it wasn’t enough money. I would do almost anything to be making $40,000/year right now. At least it would cover the loans and allow me to start putting some money away so I can have my own life someday.

All through college, my dad and others told me not to worry about taking out student loans, after all, they end up being small payments that are easily taken care of once you graduate and get a job. “Your brother said his student loans were easy,” said my dad, a few years ago when I was still in college. My brother graduated in 2002 and got a job right away for ADP with the help of a relative who worked there. (Fast-forward to 2010 and ADP is one of the millions of companies cutting jobs. Luckily my brother switched companies at some point along the way.)

I enjoyed every minute of my history classes, art history projects, educational trips to Europe, and late-night trips to get ice cream with the girls. College was a blast. But why did I bother to get A’s when, obviously, nobody cares? Nobody cares that I can write 30 page papers based on original research. Nobody cares that I can speak Italian and Spanish. Nobody cares that I learn extremely quickly and enjoy every minute of it. Nobody cares because nobody has any money to hire me.

I know this sounds very depressing, and really I apologize if I made any of you depressed. I just want to make a point. Something has to be done. People my age have a lot of energy and potential, and they just want someone to give them a chance so they can start building a life of their own. Unfortunately, we’re stuck competing against 30,40, and 50-somethings who were laid-off mid-career. And employers will ALWAYS pick the ones with more experience.

I’ve considered going to grad school, like some of my other friends, hoping that an advanced degree may give me a leg up getting the positions I want. The problem is I’m scared to death that when I get out of grad school, I’ll have the same problem, only 100 times worse: even MORE debt and still no job, at which point I will be forced to take a minimum wage job in retail in order to make the payements.

(Now I’m wondering why I spent so much time studying. I could have taken a break and gotten B’s and C’s, since nobody in “the real world” cares that I did well in school.)