“What do you do for living nowadays?”
I think I say it that way to see people’s reactions. It started out as a truth, now it is just the simplest way to describe my situation. With few exceptions, when I speak the magic word, people’s expressions turn grim.
I was born and raised in Luxembourg, one of the richest countries in the world. I have always had everything I needed and more. On very rare occasions have I saved up money to buy something I longed for, simply because when the toy phase ended, there was nothing material I desired except for food. Now, my fixed costs are ridiculously low, my dad gives me a bit of support and I have an irregular income from a zero hours contract. I do spend some effort applying for jobs to take a step up the financial hierarchy.
It has been two and a half years now since I graduated. At first I was ambitious, motivated, disciplined. I wrote four to five applications per week, moved to the big city, consciously entering a new phase. I had diverse applicable experience, spoke four languages, had an open personality and felt good about myself. The initial enthusiasm backfired after, say, nine months, when things did not work out as planned. The perpetual rejections had carved wrinkles on my self-image. Then came a dip.
Being down usually helps me look at things from a different angle. I became aware that I still have more than I possibly need. The time and the location in which I was born were an exceptionally lucky shot. I began to feel that this striving for a job or whatever it is people strive for, is important, but that it should not rule a life. Then, I saw that many people with jobs indeed overvalue them. For some they are prisons. I wrote Awards.
In people’s repeating “empathic” reactions, I see that they don’t look into my joie de vivre, but at a status. They look at their assumptions, fuelled, no doubt by fears that hold them on the spot. The career ideal has grown wild. Perhaps that can only be seen from the sideline.