Per the title of this post, I disclaim all poorly constructed phrases, mixed metaphors, unresolved arguments and general weak-ass wording. It’s been a long time since I wrote posts on a regular basis, filling my time instead with satisfying but exhausting jobs, two hip surgeries, climbing out of financial ruin, falling in love, and of course, #TrumpStress. I have missed writing regularly, and while I am constantly scratching things into journals or ranting into status updates, what they say is true – nothing replaces a consistent and committed writing practice.
What in the actual F is a white middle aged lady with no kids supposed to write about to share with her family, friends, and widening social network? The space is well-covered by writers and blogs the internet over.
And yet. I have some shit to say.
Earlier this year (which feels like four years ago, I blame #TrumpTime), my job ended sooner than I had planned. It was a project I LOVED but, a new director wanted to take it in a direction that didn’t include my offerings. If you’ve ever been unemployed as a mid-career professional, you can relate to the standard stressors: financial insecurity, facing a job hunt, creeping blues. What is easy to forget about once you become fully employed again are the insidious attacks on your confidence. We forget about these right away as a means of survival. Much like child birth, if you could physically conjure up the pain of labor, there is no way you’d be doing that again by choice! Same goes for the hell storm of doubt that comes at you during a sustained (and sometimes, prolonged) job search. These attacks are most harmful when they come from within, but are aided and abetted by external forces, most notably the Happiness Industrial Complex (H.I.C.).
A handful of years and another age decade ago, my writing was greatly influenced by the H.I.C. I was doing a lot of searching for my voice and self, and forcefully moving my career toward the work I knew I was made for, storytelling and communications. Do What You Love is THEE MANTRA of the H.I.C. and this is not bad advice. But when you lose your job and have bills to pay and trips to take and classes to be in and shoes to buy and EXPERIENCES you need money to create, well DWYL is not working for me right now. I just need to be back at work.
Another thing that’s happening is middle class white people like me are finally waking up to the unjust, inequitable shitshow that is the world for MOST people who are non-white, non-men, non-straight, non-atheist, and non-disabled. We elected a white supremacist rapist to the presidency of the United States and if that weren’t bad enough he is the most reprehensible asshole to ever have a reality show. (Worse than Puck.) A few years ago, I had my wake-up call that my go-girl feminism was exclusive and myopic. I was one Cal-tein Bar away from full Plastics. But because I always force myself to learn more and do better – and after I rightly got my ass handed to me by women of color all over the internet – I shut my mouth, opened my ears and eyes and started the transformation to understanding and advocating intersectional feminism, supporting people and policies that center people with greatest need for justice and equity, practicing constant discomfort, and deepening my friendships around these values.
The spaces in these in-betweens – being 46, job searching, fighting the systems as an anti-racist, finding earnest joy and wicked humor everywhere – is where I will be writing and sharing these experiences with my peerps (peers + peeps) so that more of us can show up to support each other beyond what the H.I.C. wants us to do. (Self care commerce! Buy more shit! Cleanse yourself to purity! Shout the prosperity gospel to all!) It’s messy work, and requires constant accountability. Writing about it will help me, but it’s more exciting to think about how I can help people avoid some mistakes that may scare them back to the relative comfort, and inaction of say, wearing a safety pin.
I hope you’ll join me.