One good thing about the written word is the option available for readers to stop reading at any point they choose to. That being said, feel free to redirect your browser to The Nicest Place On The Internet any time you get tired of my written grumblings. I’ve got something on my chest and, as my own personal experience has shown me time and time again, putting “pen to paper” may help me to feel just a tiny bit better.
After having yet another career option shut down (in record time; applied on Tuesday and received the familiar “Other more qualified applicants have been found” blurb on Friday morning), I’m reminded of a scripture that gives a lot of people peace during trying times.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
“For I know the plans I have for you”, says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
I have to be honest here and admit that I’m conflicted. The spiritual side of me knows that God already has his plans laid out for me and I’m constantly reminded via my wife, my friends and fellow Believers that all things work out the way they are supposed to, all to the glory of God. He has a plan for me, otherwise why would I still be here? He’s obviously not done with me yet where I am.
Then there is the OTHER side, the human goal-oriented side, that is tired of having his career aspirations dashed at what appears to be every turn. That side would love to tell those shiny-happy people to take those feel-good platitudes and stick them down their throat sideways. Up to this point in my life (and I refer to the past 7 years as one specific point in time), I have reached every career/education goal I have set out to achieve. This is where the conflict between my spiritual side and my goal-driven side comes into play. I’m well aware that God has placed things in my path to either redirect me or assist me in all those goals, but what on Earth is he up to now?
I have applied to ELEVEN different positions in my desired career field since early-2011, each one never panning out (USA Jobs removes prior applications but there’s probably another five to seven more between 2009 and 2011). Some of them have stagnated in “Application Received” status for months, even years. Others have returned with the same message from above, the slap-in-the-face from your white email screen that says “You’re not good enough, but take heart! Someone out there IS, it’s just not you!” One of the most aggravating updates I received was when applying for a position as a Park Ranger I was informed that I was OVER qualified.
For those reading that already are aware of what I do, all you need to do is scan the news headlines to see that the current White House administration is actually working AGAINST my coworkers and I. If you are reading and don’t know what I currently do, drop me a line and I’ll fill you in (or if you skim through enough of my older posts, you’ll most likely figure it out). While I don’t think a man’s career choice defines him entirely, I do believe that certain people are a better fit than others in certain fields and I feel that my skills are wasting away as I stay in this same position.
With an Associate’s in Computer Networking and a Bachelor’s in Information Technology, I would have thought I would be an asset in my desired field, but so far it is not happening. What was intended to be a two to three year job is now entering its seventh year, with no signs of a light at the end of the proverbial career tunnel. I’ve seen friends leave this job (although none recently) and I even lost a friend to gunfire back in 2012, but I’m still here doing the same thing day in and day out. Even with my degree, there don’t appear to be any doors opening in this particular agency for me. It doesn’t matter whether I was a rocket scientist before I signed on to this gig, all that matters is the day to day. There is not much use for prior experience, other than small-talk coffee cup conversation.
My workday, when NOTHING SERIOUS ACTUALLY HAPPENS to keep me later than usual, keeps me away from home for anywhere from 11-12 hours. This includes my commute back and forth each day. Upon first glance, you may think I just don’t like long days. Au contrair, my good reader. I have no issues with long days, if I feel that something is actually being accomplished. A long day which serves no purpose and keeps you separated from your family is pointless, in my opinion. I appreciate efficiency and wasting time with no particular end in sight drives me batty.
Also worth mentioning is the fact that I’m not getting any younger. My age is no longer an issue with hiring due to being in the general job field before turning 37 but even though I maintain a decent weight and baseline level of fitness, I’m not sure if my body will hold up to another physically taxing academy and remain injury-free. This current position is best suited for young, single men. I’m neither young NOR single anymore and I enjoy seeing my family on the weekends. I just finished up three months of midshift and I had forgotten how difficult that shift really was. I slept all day and hung out with my family in the evenings, but I was never entirely “there” when awake. I’ve had enough shift work and I honestly want a Monday-Friday’ish day shift schedule with an occasional duty day or duty weekend. I want to wear plain clothes again, if for no other reason than the sheer comfort of them. Oh, and beards.
There have been two close calls for the position I want. I was in the hiring process for one agency but was having some marital issues at the time and upon advice from family decided my best option was to take a step back, thereby sealing my fate with that agency. The next closest I’ve come was a couple years back when my overall score for the process (with another agency) was a 91. Here’s the kicker though; the cutoff for a Southern Border assignment was 92. SERIOUSLY? One point? You can probably visualize my head pounding against a wall repeatedly. If not, here’s an animated GIF that portrays my ever increasing frustration.
If I was to allow for a possible move, I would most likely have a better shot at being hired. My family and I love this area though. We love our house, we love our church, we love all the activities that the area has to offer, but most of all we love the friends we’ve made since living out here. I am in an area and at an age that I don’t want to physically leave for “greener pastures”. I’m already down here in the Southwest, why not hire me and save on moving costs? I’m already here and my family has gotten over the initial shock of moving across the country. The only place we’ve really discussed seriously is Nashville, which puts us ten to eleven hours away from both of our families by car.
There’s conflict in just about every major life decision you make. Therein lies the conflict in MINE. I find fulfillment in my family and friends, but during the 10 hours a day I’m at work, I find no fulfillment. I continue to report dutifully and to perform to the best of my abilities, as though I was working for the Lord though, the entire time dreaming of a career that I may actually feel like I’m contributing something worthwhile and seeing something new, different and interesting.
There you have it. Brutal honesty, folks. If you’ve hung on the whole time, I thank you and applaud you.