Scared of Getting A Job, I Am (Part 1 of 2)
Note by the author: I wrote this piece on February 13th, 2019–8 months ago. When I wrote it, I really wanted to share it with the world. But I was afraid. Afraid of what my wife would say. Afraid of what my parents would say. Afraid of what everyone would say.
I am still afraid. And I have grown too. This is why, before I share what has happened since then, let me share where I was before I ‘grew up’.
Thank you for staying with me on this Medium journey. It’s about to get a helluva lot more interesting. :)
I write this with newfound anxiety. I chose to capture this before I found a rational way out or convince myself that the feelings I have are not real — that I am making them up and should get over myself.
Moments ago, my wife asked me what kind of job I’d be looking for.
But before I get into that conversation, I don’t want to assume that you know that it’s been 7 months since I got into the US and as per my visa requirements, I got married to my wife within 90 days, we applied for my residency papers. We also applied separately for my work permit. I haven’t been able to learn how to drive yet, and the government shutdown did leave me feeling particularly nervous about how I could be helpful as we burn through my wife’s student loans.
We have a place to stay, food to eat and clothes to wear. We’re not living lavishly. We aren’t complaining either.
Well, my wife isn’t. I am. Ever since I got here, I have been impatient to make money with my skills. I couldn’t sit still. I started a YouTube channel. I wrote a lot for a while on Medium. Then II reached a point where I felt I needed to rethink my strategy because I wasn’t seeing the returns I had expected.
I took some time off the internet.
This afternoon, we got an email saying that my work permit would be in the mail soon.
I freaked out.
My wife was taking me to an empty parking lot so we could practice my driving. On the way, she asked me what ideas I had had concerning work. This wasn’t the first time she’d brought this up: if you meet my wife, and spend a few months with her, you will notice that she always talks about what is important a long time in advance.
Then again, she’s learned that I don’t deal with new information from an external source very well. The subject of ‘a job’ is one I have probably shown too many signs to not want to have.
Yet, here we are: I will have my Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in a few days and I don’t want a job.
I am tempted to tell my wife that I have a terrible history with jobs. It’s not just that I have a bad reaction to authority, but in the past, I have been unfortunate to have superiors who made me doubt how they got to be my superiors.
I once had the human resource chief at a company I worked at, tell me I couldn’t stay out of work for too long after the death of a mentor. I had lost someone who was like an elder brother to me, and the information I got when I sought permission to leave, was that I should have requested it earlier and that I had to return within a certain period.
You may say that that’s company policy. And that business is business. But it’s this kind of bullshit that makes me not want to get ‘a job’.
There was this one place where I was desperate to get paid and my employer used that against me. When I requested a raise, a new document resurfaced with tasks I had no idea where in my job description and after a few weeks, I was fired.
In truth, I found a way to get fired. I am a terrible employee when I find out my employer isn’t on my side.
I understand the necessity of paying bills, I have had flexible positions with amazing teammates and great experiences, but at some point, I either grow out of the position or find out that there are patterns in behavior I cannot tolerate. Not just for my work, but for life. In those instances, I often quit.
And I am not proud of the way I have left some of the places I have worked at. Sometimes, I just disappeared and my number stopped going through.
The good old days.
Then for some reason, I grew a conscience and started finding ways to communicate better.
All of my working experience has been in Cameroon. Even my Journalism degree is Cameroonian. As well as my Freelance clients and any word of mouth my talents may have earned me. After talking with my wife, I tried searching for jobs online and I was filled with the darkest sense of dread since finding out a notification with my mum’s name on an article I feared she’d read.
Guess what? Even SOCIAL MEDIA positions that seemed slightly enticing require years of experience I HAVE with a degree I DON’T HAVE!
Did I mention they were full-time? Have you noticed that I have my own dreams and goals that require me FULL-TIME?
My core knows I don’t want to work for anyone. My wife argues if I want to run a company, I can gain a lot of experience from that. I am aware that we have bills to pay and we move in June to a location we’d only find out in March. I can sense during our conversations that she really believes that getting work experience in the US would be great for my ‘assimilation’.
But I don’t know how true that is.
Of course, there are people I would be excited to work for! I read them every day and I know that being close to the entrepreneurial fire would do great for my own ventures down the road!
It’s the thought of a traditional job that kills me.
Search. Apply. Interview. Start. Learn. Wait. Paycheck.
I can’t believe I sound so entitled. Yet, I am aware that there are many who would be super grateful to be in my position.
But they aren’t. I am. I live in this body. I play with these thoughts. I can see my past and I feel my angst.
I don’t want a traditional job.
And I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do when that piece of paper gets here.