Forty Fifty

She found herself once more where she had began: lost and grasping for a clear path. It was her third month on the job and somehow the deep satisfaction she felt when she first acquired the steady 40-hours-a-week, 50k-a-year position dwindled faster than she could have possibly imagined. She was itching to leave, but for what?

Last year she had consistently worked two to three jobs, not to keep her finances afloat (she was no good at numbers and things always seemed to work out, so she spent little time fretting about bills), but to equip herself with the experience necessary for her to be competitive for the 40-50 position she so craved. The constant commuting, multiple supervisors, and endless resume revisions meant she had a minimal amount of free time — still she always had a moment to daydream about the comfort she would find in the stability of working full-time and the years of peace it would bring to her life. She found time as she walked from the subway station to her office. And during her stealthy bathroom breaks. And as she experimented with more and more circuitous routes to meetings. And when she ran from one job to the next. But her most precious moments of fantasizing about her future were those three or four minutes before she absolutely had to leave the haven of her bed and blankets in the morning.

Morning were always hard, but her 40-50 goal had given her purpose and while her fantasies about what her life would be like post 40-50 attainment could be a bit farfetched (long 10-day vacations in Scandinavia, camping or skiing on weekends, learning a new language, scuba diving in Australia, learning how to cook in Southeast Asia, writing a book or reading a hundred books…) they propelled her forward and kept her motivated to work longer and longer hours. She became an expert at asking for more assignments and checking if colleagues needed a helping hand. Her specialty though was making herself look exceptionally busy at all times. Perhaps the key to her success was the image she portrayed of herself as eager to help, eager to learn and, as a result, extremely busy accomplishing things. Her hard work soon lead to additional, similar opportunities outside of her initial position. With her appetite whet for more work and more experiences to pad her resume, she eventually accumulated a total of four different paid positions in the year and two volunteer positions.

Not too long ago this kind of drive would be impossible for her to even imagine, despite her very, very active imagination. After college, she had impulsively decided to teach high school in an inner city school district. She lasted two months. It had only taken her one to get a stomach ulcer and just a week to begin a ritual of crying every Sunday at 11:00pm. After she quit, she had drifted around, dreaming about a future where she would travel, learn about new cultures, and write. For months, she slept during the day and wandered around in her own head during the night. She volunteered sporadically and carried on listlessly. She visited book shops, but never wrote a word. In high school the goal was so clear: college. And in college: graduate. Now, less than a year out, she was lost and grasping for a clear path. What could possibly fulfill a head full of such beautiful places, such beautiful words?

The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: Backward