As I finally bring myself back to the blog to push an update, the landscape of reality differs a lot from where I envisioned things being at the start of the summer.

First, there’s the situation on the global scale: the COVID pandemic continues to decimate societies, variants on the rise after the solution was heavily politicized and flippantly rejected by far too many people. Climate change is actively pushing deeper into undeniable extreme weather events, yet the deniers continue on. Another year, another Presidential administration, yet still more news cycles dominated by plague, environmental crises, gun violence, societal oppression, and political lunacy. The cognitive dissonance in knowing these issues are out there while seeing day-to-day life trying to put on its best production of “normal” is suffocating at times.

On top of all of that combination of horrors, there are all the things on the personal front.

At the start of the season, I had a defined timeline that I felt confident about being able to achieve. I was successfully moving through the interview process with ClickUp and seemingly nailing every crucial step along the way. With the wait times in availability for the final interview, which had to be rescheduled once after a physical injury left me unable to conduct the original, it wasn’t until the end of July that it was completed. Much to my dismay, I fumbled the final interview and didn’t get the job, and have had a general lack of response from other prospective jobs I applied to in the time between. Now, I’m staring down the barrel of my forecasted worst-case scenario: the reliance on unemployment benefits—which are going to decrease considerably with the expiration of the additional federal funds at the start of the coming month—are going to preclude me from being able to register for and attend classes this semester, which starts in the coming week.

Objectively, I know that hardship during these trying times is the status quo. Subjectively, there’s this inescapable self-resentment for not finding some way in which to thrive in spite of it all. Even with things being as chaotic as they are, it feels as if everyone around me is still somehow finding their own way of generating success. Lengthy tenures at companies, completed higher education, expansive and cultivated personal networks…accomplishments and/or resources that feel far out of reach, being currently in search of a new job and my academic career resumed last year still progressing towards an associate’s degree, with more work (and debt) to go before reaching the degree levels required by prospective employers. This feeling of being so far behind and stuck in a perpetual “catch up” state has become too much of a burden and an obstacle to enjoyment of the incremental achievements along the way.

Over the course of this month of August, aside from the continued job searching, I’ve spent the time I earmarked for online presence & portfolio building has gone instead to licking my wounds over the loss of the ClickUp job, engaging in personal meditations, and rediscovering old passions. My only time in front of the computer (or touch screens) has been for the job hunting effort. Otherwise, I’ve kept busy continuing to assist a partially deaf friend with his work commutes and personal errands, working on home improvements, maintaining a private journaling practice, picking up music again, and really putting myself under the lens in preparation of things to come. Along with vocational/financial matters and COVID, there are plenty of other factors being tracked with unique potential implications, too personal in nature and beyond the scope of this post.

That “perpetual catch up” feeling, and the resulting lack of enthusiastic pride over accomplishments, was one of the feedback points I was given after my final interview. I demonstrated impressive proficiency and a lot of key traits they look for, but my stoic modesty didn’t quite elicit the excited interest of a successful elevator pitch. “Ownership of prior accomplishments”, they noted. The more I ruminated on that, an old thought from back in April resurfaced: how much of my persona is legitimately practicing stoicism, and how much of it is mere personal disaffection?

Lately, I’ve noticed that even when talking to myself, I engage as minimally in the use of “I” as I do in interpersonal communication. I’m so far removed from myself that I don’t think of myself holistically: things are always a matter of “my mood”, “my mind”, “my [other physical/mental aspect]”, but rarely ever just “me” or “I”. And so to try to ease myself out of that framework, I’ve been revisiting the things I used to do in times when I did feel more connected and rooted in my sense of self. Playing bass guitar, learning the keyboard, singing in the shower and on drives along, immersing myself in Spanish media, meticulously organizing home and work spaces. It’s been successful to some degree, but feels like merely the beginning of what’s going to be a long process.

In summation: even though things did not turn out that way I’d envisioned, there were still some key useful takeaways from everything that’s happened up until this point. With safety nets and backup plans quickly expiring, the road is fraught with uncertainty and potential change. Yet, the immutable fact of life remains, there’s no other recourse than to strive for improvement and face the challenge.