I finally found a job I love

Now that it's ending, I'm going a little crazy.

By Cary Tennis
Published February 14, 2005 8:00PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

My current job is up in about six months. This has been the first job that I've really loved, and the first time that I've been making a reasonable wage. The location is fabulous. To say that I love my job is an understatement. When it's over, it really is over, though.

About a month ago something seemed to trip in my brain. I won't have this job soon. I need a new job. I won't be able to find one that pays enough. Etc.

It got worse from there. My ego is taking a beating, even though nothing disastrous has happened. Every time I begin to look at job opportunities I get terrified. Once I start, I keep looking and worrying for hours. I have periods where I can't eat or sleep. I just keep going over and over the worst-case scenarios, and finding reasons why the best-case scenarios just won't work.

I know my strengths and weaknesses. These periods are not at all rational. Knowing that doesn't seem to help at all, though I try to talk myself through the worst of it. Usually these really bad patches happen in the evening, so I try to stay out later, limiting the time I have to obsess over looking for work. During the day I start to feel more optimistic, but I'm still constantly thinking about it. It's stealing a lot of the joy that I feel.

I've had periods like this in the past, sometimes job related, sometimes not. I don't want this one to escalate anymore.


Dear Tired,

If you are feeling anxious, it's not surprising. You are dealing with two difficult facts, each of which stresses you in a different way. On the one hand, you are certain that something bad is going to happen. It's looming. You're going to lose this job that you love. Anyone would find it hard to put a positive spin on that.

You may find that when you think about this impending job loss, it colors your whole future, so that thinking about the future in any context becomes unpleasant. If so, you may find that you're not making plans, that you're putting things on hold and, as you say, that your situation is "stealing a lot of the joy" you otherwise would feel, because much of the enjoyment we take from life comes of looking ahead and feeling that the future is welcoming and bright. If you cannot plan, it's hard to have things to look forward to. Instead, when you think about the future, you may feel fear and dread.

That puts added pressure on you to enjoy the moment, and if you can't enjoy the moment, you're in double trouble. This may lead to a kind of intensified seeking of momentary pleasure, perhaps through hedonistic pursuits or bingeing.

So on the one hand you have this bad thing that you know is going to happen. After that, the only thing that is certain is uncertainty. It would be better if you knew that this job was ending and another one was beginning. Then you could mentally rehearse for the new job, and sort of prepare to let the old one go. But, facing an unknown period of joblessness may be working against your efforts to mentally let go of the present job.

So you're stuck. I can see why you're feeling a little screwed up. And unfortunately, I am not really the guy to ask about the practical part of how to find a job. I am probably the worst job-finding guy there is.

Perhaps because I am such a bad job-finding guy, I tend to be very conservative in these matters. So here is what I would do if I were you: I would try very hard to line up some kind of job, any kind of job, that you know you can rely on when this one ends. Even if it's some kind of temporary work, try to have something lined up.

Once you get that squared away, you may feel a little more relaxed about looking for a really good job.

And then you can also begin blaming the government in earnest.

That is, without suggesting that you make excuses for yourself, it does help to keep in mind how random and unsympathetic the apportioning of labor and money is in America, and to what extent it is tied to our class system. It's not that you're screwing up. The system is rigged.

That's not self-pity. That's realism.

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