by Mariam Williams
At least now I have an excuse for the funk I’ve been in lately.
My whole state is unhappy! Kentucky ranked 49th on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index TM, which measures the overall health – the physical, mental, and social well-being – of each state and each Congressional district within each state.
When I took a closer look at the map provided on ahiphiwire.org, I saw that Kentucky’s 5th district is ranked last of all the districts in overall well-being, while the district I live in is ranked somewhere in between the lowest 20% and the middle 20% of all districts within the United States. Quite frankly, that still sucks.
Because I’m a trained researcher and a nerd, the whole study fascinates me, but for the purpose of this blog, I want to highlight one quote in the AP story on the findings:
“‘It’s not just about physical health,’ said Eric Nielsen, a spokesman for Gallup. ‘It’s about their ability to contribute at work and be more productive, and it’s about feeling engaged in a community and wanting to improve that community.'”
In this economy, I have to argue that it’s also about a person’s ability to find work. I said it in a previous post: a certain amount of pride and dignity comes with having a job. If the job pays enough, you can take care of all your needs. If it doesn’t, and you have to work several jobs to provide for yourself, at least you can say you’re a productive member of society.
My current job is to find full-time work. When my employment hiatus began in October, I remarked that I had forgotten that finding a full-time job is a full-time job. I think the dead ends – the lack of responses, the generic “we found someone else who better fits our qualifications” letters, the daily reminders from the news and from strangers’ comments of just how difficult it is to find a job right now – have contributed to a slowdown in my productivity. I haven’t reached the point where I see a job I’m interested in but think to myself, “Why bother? I won’t get it anyway,” or, “Why even look? There’s nothing out there.” But I am to the point where I might wait several days before applying for one of the good full-time positions I’ve been holding out for. (And the job market is to the point where I don’t see those jobs very often at all.) There are days when email, Facebook, whatever random, useless information I can find online, the dishes, the laundry, a little spot on the floor, a good workout, or even this blog seem more important than sending in an application.
On Tuesday’s Tom Joyner Morning Show, commentator Jeff Johnson talked about the “depression created from the recession … A level of depression that comes when working class people – who don’t mind working to pay the bills … can’t find work.” To get out of the depression, Johnson recommended, first and foremost, thinking positive. He also recommended trying something you’ve never done before, learning a new profession, going back to school for something completely different, or in his words, “taking a risk.”
I don’t find many job postings I’m excited about anymore because I know that what I really want to do isn’t listed. I want to pursue – and perhaps am called to pursue – a profession that forces me to open myself up to rejection, to not depend on an employer for health care and retirement benefits, to not depend on cubicle mates for companionship, to not always be on someone else’s clock, but rather to have the kind of freedom that also takes great responsibility. To pursue this career takes great risk, and I believe the fear of failure, or maybe of all the responsibility and pressure that success would bring, is manifesting itself in distractions and lethargy. Lately it takes more effort for me to put a coherent sentence together than it does to clean the house. And I HATE cleaning.
Hmm. I guess I don’t have an excuse for the funk I’ve been in lately. The funk is the excuse, and I have to get out of it if I want to stop living life laid off.