Anna Maria Locke

on being underemployed

 People house and squirrel house. Love being able to see all the little nests in the trees.
 The last tree on the street holding out with some green
 My sidewalk

 Some dusty miller in the leaves, pretty gray and yellow
 Fuzzy boots, more gray and yellow
 Fave scarf of the moment
View from my porch, typical Chicago northside
{pictures from my walk to the post box this morning}
Last night I had my first ugly breakdown since my September pre-wedding freakouts. 2012 has been a huge year, to put it mildly, bringing me the happiest days of my life and also the most frustrating personal challenges I've ever experienced, and I'm trying to process it all and reflect on what has happened and where I'm headed. It's been almost a year since my job with the Nature Conservancy in Oregon ended and Ben and I decided to pack our cars and drive back to the midwest to live with our respective parents until we figured shit out.
Actually, "figuring shit out" could be the tagline to this entire year
Here's the quick re-cap of what has happened since last December:
 I spent a pretty gloomy winter in my childhood bedroom attempting to job hunt while Ben lived with his mom in Michigan (he had an online job at the time). After having spent two years hacking it long-distance at the end of college, being forced to live hundreds of miles apart AGAIN--after we were engaged for pete's sake and I thought we were past that tough stage--well, it was the figurative straw that broke me. And it sucked. I was saved in the spring by my uncle, who offered us temporary free use of his empty condo in the Quad Cities so that Ben and I could actually be together while we figured out our lives and wedding plans. The QC is where we met and went to college, so it was a fun blast of the past to re-connect with our college friends and spend a summer re-living our college days. I also started substitute teaching at the end of the school year, which gave me something to do and kept me sane! All you need to sub in Illinois is a college degree, so it's a pretty good in-between-jobs filler if you're willing to deal with an unpredictable schedule and whiny high schoolers.
The rest of the summer was consumed by figuring out how to throw a beautiful and fun wedding when you're broke, spending time with family, and distracting myself from not having a job. Honestly, it was pretty nice to have the time to do things like make my own wedding invitations (DIY blog post to come on that...) and it was plain awesome to catch up with friends and family after living so far away in PA and OR for the past three years. Ben continued working online until he FINALLY was offered his dream teaching job: high school history at a charter school in Chicago. I cried tears of joy. We moved to the city in August, I was extremely lucky to start working part time at the Morton Arboretum, we got married, and now it's the holiday season and I'm coming up for air!
I really love my job and co-workers at the Arb, but I only work in the spring, summer, and fall, and part time at that. Plus the commute is rough... an hour and fifteen minutes to drive out there in morning rush hour, 45 minutes to get home in the early afternoon. I've begun picking up some babysitting jobs, which--like subbing--is also a great filler job if you are female, like kids, have experience being in charge of them (thanks Mama for my younger siblings), and are CPR/First Aid certified, and live in a family-oriented area. I am very grateful I fill all of the above requirements :)
So anyway, it has been almost a year since I had a full time job, and a year and a half since I graduated with my master's degree. Almost all the 20-somethings I know have been un/under-employed for at least a few months at some point. It's just really. hard. to be 25 right now.
 Obviously I am really grateful for my supportive family, being married to an amazing person who has a job to pay the bills and support me, my education, and my experiences thus far, but there is still a big void inside of me where I'm missing a job that will fulfill me and make me feel productive with my time and talents. I've learned how to be resourceful and work with what I have, but it's really hard to have patience for that one perfect job to appear--because I'm not going to be hired unless the employer thinks I am absolutely perfect. It's extremely humbling to be rejected from jobs you know you're qualified or even over-qualified for, and I know that even though I have a master's degree and as much experience as I've been able to cram into my life so far, NO JOB or experience is beneath me right now.
I'm looking forward so much to the day when Ben and I have a double income and can start actually saving money to someday have kids and buy a house, in addition to merely not feeling super guilty every time I buy something. In the meantime it's a constant process to stay grateful for the many many blessings I DO have in my life and to trust that everything will work out when the time is right.
2012 has included three moves, multiple part time and temporary jobs for both Ben and me, a wedding, and lots of memories and learning curves both good and bad. No wonder I'm mentally exhausted! I have no idea what 2013 has in store, and it's really weird to anticipate a year with no graduations, wedding, or any other pre-scheduled milestone. Hopefully there are a couple less enormous changes, and I can continue to settle into the second half of my twenties.