It’s 4:20am, about to become a Friday. And I can’t sleep.
The anxiety, my actual anxiety, woke me up. Of what? Oh you know. Impending unemployment. My Mom, now a widow. That I miss my Dad. The state of the world. La la la la la. Things, big and small, that affect me directly.
I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t confronted anxiety head-on in my lifetime. I’ve kept the sunny-side up of my approach to EVERYTHING in full effect. I’ve not been bogged down by overwhelming sadness or heartache or even the occasional run-in with diarrhea. And yet, in my fifties, anxiety has been front and center. The actual definition of anxiety–a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome–certainly applies to how I feel.
If I pinpoint the major source of the anxiety, it’s this: I don’t have consistent employment–I spent the first half of 2016 glued to LinkedIn Jobs–and that has left me riddled with worry. How will I support my family? How will I make it to retirement in one piece? How, how, how. I spend A LOT of time strategizing how to get out of this predicament. I find jobs that are tailor-made for me and my skill set, I contact the hiring manager, I go on interviews and…don’t get a callback. Or I land an interim gig, and…I fail to connect with the decision makers, the people who are the determiners of my fate. In the last two years, I’ve been besieged by chronic failure in the work force. It’s coincided with turning fifty. And it’s difficult to separate rampant red flags (is this ageism? When I tell the male hiring manager I’m older than he, a bearded man who salt and pepper hairs everywhere on his face and head, and I never hear from him again?) with my personal success in the workplace, or standing at the doormat of the workplace.
And I wonder, is this my crossroads? Am I at a life stage where I have to re-assess what I do to earn a living? Should I apply to Starbucks? (At least they provide health insurance.) Do I stick to my skill-set guns, and keep the brave face on, keep trying to find my footing in the Real World?
The answer, right now is, I just don’t know. And that, I suspect, is my actual crossroad. To finally not have an answer, after years of I Can Do It’s and Yes I Can’s, I’m at the I Don’t Know What To Do’s.
And wow is it scary.
(Go figure, there’s tons of websites devoted to anxiety like This One and oh this one and of course Wikipedia.)