Middle School and the Job Market

My 12-year-old daughter is definitely going through a growth spurt. She is thriving on Krave chocolate cereal and Edy’s ice cream, bowl after bowl. She’s gotten longer, more self-assured, more stylish, and more sarcastic seemingly overnight. I catch glimpses of the young woman she is becoming in her pale skin, bright blue eyes, her posturing and clever comebacks.

What’s most remarkable is her growing insight into not only her “self,” but also the world around her.

She told me she realized she was good at making friends. She’s begun noticing when someone is new at school and needs directions, when someone’s sneezing and needs a tissue, and when someone needs a partner for an activity. She has found windows of opportunity to extend herself that others miss. It sounds to me like she’s on to something: being “liked” in school can start with an act of kindness.

She’s also asking questions about why we do the things we do, why her dad does things the way he does. This is her world, and if she asks “why?” about her family’s decisions, my hope is she will ask “why?” about the larger world as she matures.

At almost 45, I find myself trailing behind her.

My growth spurt has layers. I work through one dimension only to discover another. I have no control over the order and density of these dimensions. First divorce, re-stabilization, re-connecting with my voice and my joy via yoga, dating after 20+ years, finding love once I stopped searching, quitting a job I didn’t enjoy, digging deeper into my values and principals.

But still there’s more.

After spending 18 years primarily raising children, re-entering the job market feels as disconcerting as middle school.

I’m tired of taking personality inventories, searching job postings every morning, and sending out my resume and cover letter to no response. The only call backs I’ve gotten so far were to jobs I wasn’t actually interested in (retail–$10 an hour/40 hours a week–and waitressing. My interviewer had me waiting 40 minutes, so I just left). 

How many of me are out there–competent, intelligent, motivated, life and school-educated women who have been busy raising great human beings that can’t even score an interview?

The real problem right now is that I have moments of doubting my value. Of wondering how I got here, mid-life (probably), not totally certain what I should be doing. I ask myself if I’ll know the “right thing” if and when it comes along, and maybe there just isn’t a right thing. Maybe there’s just the job I’m offered, whatever that might be.

I remember looking at myself very closely in the mirror at my daughter’s age. Checking out the girl in the mirror, the pupils and irises, the pores of her skin, the freckles and blemishes. And haven’t I done the same now? I’ve come as close to my “self” as I could get and looked intently at all that is there. I see who I have been and who I am.

Now I’m looking for the windows of opportunity to extend myself, waiting for my turn to be on to something.

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