In my four month bout of unemployment, I’d have to say the worst part is hands down the inevitable “job search” conversation I’m forced to have time and time again with friends, family, friends of friends, and perfect strangers. I’ve come to dread social functions where I have to “catch-up” with people or introduce myself to someone new, mostly because the conversation normally goes like this:
“What do you do again? Oh, babysitting? But what do you WANT to do? Are you looking for another job?”
When I tell them what I studied in school and where my recent job search has been focused, I undoubtedly get a response that goes a little like this:
“I know someone in DC! I think she does something with like a non-profit…or the government…I’m not sure, it’s definitely international. Maybe international business? Have you looked into the State Department???”
To the people past, present, and future, who have had or are thinking about having this conversation with me: DON’T. Color me weird, but it really perplexes me why people think its any of their business what my current job search entails. My boyfriend insists it’s social niceties and “concern for my well-being” that lead people to ask me these types of questions, but in my opinion, it’s downright rude! My well-being is just fine, thank you very much, regardless of whether or not I’m sitting at a desk from 9-5! I know you think you know a guy who may know a guy that may help me get in touch with the guy from a company that MIGHT fit my degree, but I’m here to tell you that I’m just not interested.
One of the biggest reasons I’m drawn to traveling is the escape it provides from the downsides of American culture: the need to go everywhere in a hurry, the idea that work trumps any personal time, and the expectation that you should always, always be striving for professional success. Doesn’t that leave a little to be desired?
When I was living in Paris, I had a hard time with the fact that there are virtually no places outside of Starbucks that will offer you coffee “to-go.” In the US, my to-go mug was the most important part of my morning! How else was I supposed to get my caffeine fix AND be places on time? The French value the act of sitting down to enjoy their coffee, and eventually, I did too. Now, I get up earlier just so I can sit and have coffee before I’m forced to be anywhere. Rarely does that travel-mug ever leave the shelf.
I value my education (hell, I should after all it cost me) but what I really value is my time spent abroad learning about the world from a different lens. From traveling, I’ve become someone who (almost) never says no to trying new things, and more than anything, values the idea of slowing down a little bit and enjoying the ride.
My time as a babysitter is just an extension of that philosophy. Sure, I’m a little behind other people my age in terms of a career, but I’m happy and I’m enjoying my new life here. So, the next time you see me, do us both a favor and skip the urge to ask me how my job search is coming along: I’m just fine. Plus, I just taught a little girl how to ride her bike without training wheels. That shit cray.