Look at this picture. I love this picture. I am carefree, pulled together, and a little bit like a farmer but not too much.
I keep thinking I want to put this picture online. And then I think, I can't. I'm too sad. I need a picture of me moping.
This feeling reminds me of when I was younger, it was very hard for me to get a job, and also hard for me to keep one. I was job hunting all the time.
Job hunting is an insane way to live. You are a depressed, scared, unemployed person and the key to getting out of it is to make yourself into a happy, confident, go-getter.
When I was job hunting, I had tricks for giving myself confidence. I'd try to schedule interviews in the late morning. This would give me time to get my spririts up, but it would not require me holding them up for too long — for say, an end-of-the-day interview.
Other stuff I would do that works:
Shower and put on makeup right away so that I know the day is serious and there's no crying.
Don't eat. If you don't eat, you are happier. This is not true for people who are starving and dragging themselves across the desert in search of a refugee camp. You know that. But you might not have known that being hungry helps you focus and connect with other people. It's probably a survival instinct. If you don't have berries you have to get someone in the group to give you berries. (Which, come to think of it, is not far from the workplace interview situation.)
I am trying to remind myself that I am great at turning things around. Every time I thought my life was hopeless and I'd never get a job and I'd never be happy again, I’d always get a job. Eventually. And things would turn around. At least for a little.
Today, when work isn't going well, I have this magic place I can go in my head where I just trust that things will work out. I will figure out a better way to make money, I will find someone I want as a business partner. People will forget that I did something stupid. These are things I tell myself.
The most powerful career tool I have is faith in myself. It allows me to move through ups and downs with the grace I did not have when I was younger.
But I don't have that with my personal life. You know that feeling you have that you are going to die if you don't get a job? That's what I have almost every day living with the Farmer.
Some days are good. And I try to write about those days. I want to show you the same optimism with my personal life that I have with my career.
But I actually feel hopeless. I have that feeling I used to have when I was unemployed. Like I wished the world would end. I think I am not alone — other people have this feeling when they are unemployed. But people do not talk like this when they are unemployed because they'll never get hired.
I know that if I don’t do anything to make a change, then nothing will change. So today I decide that we should talk. He is in the field. Baling hay.
So I walk out there, a few feet onto the field, which is the universal signal on a farm for “I want to talk to you when you come around to this side of the field.”
The Farmer gets out of the tractor to talk with me. But after a couple of minutes he realizes he doesn't want to talk with me. (We have this problem a lot.) So he walks away, gets back on the tractor and starts to drive off.
I walk in front of the tractor so he will stop and talk to me. He drives it into me, so I jump on top of the front. He keeps driving. It is very hard for me to keep from falling off.
I am screaming, “Stop driving!” and he is ignoring me.
I think that's the picture of our relationship, right there. I want to talk, he doesn't, so we do terrible stuff together. I put myself in danger, and he goes along with it by saying that I'm crazy.
We repeat this cycle over and over again. (Here’s another example.) And the people who are suffering the most are the kids. They did not see the field today. But I’m not kidding myself: There is no way we are hiding the larger problem from them.
It's insane that I just opened up a huge discussion about homeschooling when I don't feel like this is the right home for the kids. It's insane that I'm starting a company when I know the company will take time away from my marriage when marriage is already sucking.
I feel insane right now. The only thing that grounds me is my ability to earn money. I know I can do fun, meaningful things in my career, and even though I’m not great at money management, I can support my kids.
The person I want to be is the person who believes in the strength of my family no matter what confronts us. I want to feel, in my heart, that things will be fine, and then it’ll show in my face all the time. But I am only that way about my career. I wish the skills were transferable, but I don't think they are.