Monday, October 6, 2008

Stagnant

All the news about the economic crisis, mortgage woes, and dwindling jobs has got me thinking about my economic future. It's hard for me to admit and accept that at 27, I'm unemployed with little to no prospect of finding a serious job anytime soon. It just crossed my mind today that this will be the first year since I was 17 that I won't have to file taxes since I haven't and won't receive a paycheck for an entire tax year. I don't want to sound like Debbie Downer, but that's a really hard pill for me to swallow. I realize how lucky I am to be in my situation, living in a fantastic city with the love of my life, where finding a job isn't currently a pressing issue. I've got it pretty good. But, I've never been a stagnant creature; if I'm not being challenged, pressured or educated, I'm not being fulfilled. For the past ten years, I was either working full-time or going to school full-time and working part-time. I might have been exhausted every night and cursing the day I decided to take 18 hours of school, work for 20 hours per week while interning for 10 hours a week , but I was accomplishing so much! I felt so great after finishing that crazy semester, relieved, too, but mostly successful. Nowadays, my success is (self-)measured by how good dinner tastes or how many shirts I iron in a day. It's really hard for me to believe how much my lifestyle and ambitions have changed.

Like most kids, when I was young, I wanted to be everything - a teacher, a designer, a CEO, an ambassador, a surgeon, a lawyer, a politician - and I somehow never grew out of that phase. I still find myself wondering what in the world I'm going to make of myself. There are so many ideas I have floating about in my head about what direction I should take in my career, but nothing stands out as the one path to follow, and of course, none of my options seem attainable given my current circumstances as an unemployed, non-French speaking housewife. I'd really love to go back to school, to get my master's, but even deciding on what to get it in and which schools to apply to is just as daunting as anything else.

I know I'm not doomed to be a stay-at-home wife forever, and I'm sure brighter days are ahead. Perhaps it would serve me well to just pick something from my superfluous list of things I want to do and do it. What makes me so uninspired, though, are the what-ifs that I like to torment myself with: what if we were back in the States...what if I had never left my last job...what if I could speak French fluently...what if I don't get accepted to grad school...what if my French doesn't improve...what if I'm 40 and still in the same boat...? Maybe I should stop wasting my energy on all these rhetorical questions and get started on something. But, what if I can't choose what to start on?

...And, now I'm off to get some Camembert for this whine.

13 comments:

Candy said...

hmmmm....maybe you should rethink your shopping trip then? he, he, he, just kidding....don't get CRAZY or anything!

Not sure if I should be offended or not about the "doomed to be a stay at home wife" comment. :) J/k, i know that's just not your thing. You'll find your way soon though. I would just enjoy your stagnat-ness for now. It won't last long, I am sure.

Josephine said...

Debbie, I mean Sarah, in the words of Charlotte (the only spider I like): "Chin Up" because you are T-e-r-r-i-f-i-c! Before you know it, you will be a fluently, well-spoken French speaker.

Paint, Volunteer (even if you French is limited, for now). You live in a beautiful country and city. Write your experiences one word at a time.

Love, Mum

misplaced texan said...

candy - You should definitely not be offended about the "housewife" thing. A stay-at-home mom is nothing like a stay-at-home wife. And, even before you had kids, we all know you weren't at home twiddling your thumbs about what to do with your life. Let's be honest, the difference between me and you is that you have an idea about doing something and do it - you don't analyze it and it's impact to your life until it's dead, which is, unfortunately what I'm really great at doing. Love you!

mum - You're the cutest mom in the world!! I totally thought about painting (do you still have those awful paintings from years back in the garage?), but instead I'm going to get inspired by the fabric district in Paris to do something else creative. Love you!

Ksam said...

My dear, I think you are already doing a good thing by signing up for the Sorbonne French classes. As we all know, speaking French well is the key to finding a decent job here, so that's one of the most important things you can do at this point to help yourself move forward!

misplaced texan said...

Thanks, ksam! I keep telling myself that the French classes will change everything - I'm looking forward to that!

kylie said...

i had to laugh to myself when i saw your comment about wanting to be everything (a teacher, a designer, a CEO, and ambassador, a surgeon, a butcher, baker, and candlestick maker...) and somehow never growing out of that phase... (preaching to the choir!! although for me it was dolphin trainer, magician, etc...) i still don't know what i want to be when i "grow up" either.

like ksam said, it's a really good thing you are in these classes. in a way, learning french IS your full-time job right now, on your way to bigger and better things! (and when you DO figure out what you want to be when you grow up - let me know. i'm open to some new ideas!) :D

The Big Finn said...

I highly advise you to file a U.S. tax return even though you didn't have any income. It'll help you avoid any problems when re-entering the U.S. It'll be easy - just fill in the zeros. Also...
You are required to file a form to the I.R.S. by June 30th of every year disclosing any/all foreign bank accounts you have (individually or jointly). Although it hasn't been enforced, the fine for not disclosing this is $100,000.
Better safe than sorry.

misplaced texan said...

Kyliemac - You're hysterical, and would totally make an awesome magician!

TBF - Thanks for the advice! I do plan on filing a return (zeros and all), but I'm not looking forward to the process. I guess I should get a head-start in reading up on tax laws and requirements before June rolls around.

Mathieu said...

Hi Sarah.

I also think mastering the French language is the key. I don't know if you saw my comments on Juliet's blog a week ago or so, but I definitely recommend you to buy a good book for that, especially since you appear to have some spare time right now. With half an hour a day of theory, and the rest of the day for practicing, no doubt you'll progress quickly. :)

I haven't tried any French book for English speakers obviously, but there's a very good collection of language books in France called "Assimil"(http://www.assimil.com/). I already tried a couple of them (including one for a language radically different than French), and I was pleasantly surprised both times. Their books come with or without an additional audio CD, but I don't think you need that anymore, plus it's really more expensive with it (like 60 € instead of 20 €).

Surprisingly, the only really difficult part with starting learning a language from a book, from my experience, is commitment. You really HAVE to do one lesson per day, and it's so easy to skip one (laziness, lack of time, ...).

I hope that helps. :)

Mathieu said...

Kick addition to my previous comments: if you want to try the Assimil book, the one you should look for is called "New French with Ease" I think. You can get it from a Virgin or a FNAC, or any good book store probably.

Evolutionary Revolutionary said...

All I have to say is you know where I live and you can come kick it old school any time. All I have here is Arte and crafts (haha, GET IT?) but it's better than feeling worthless, sad, homesick, etc...

Oh, and you have ma number too. I wont make you say it in French.

astrorainfall said...

You are going through what I went through when I first moved to Japan. It's tough, especially when you are such an active person, but you will find your niche.

I used to crave for a regular office job, but because I need to be mobile to move with my globe-trotting other half, I turned to blogging professionally and e-commerce so I'm my own boss now.

What I'm saying is — don't feel down in the dumps. You just need time to grow in your new home.

misplaced texan said...

Thanks for the advice and recommendations (yet again!), Mathieu. I'm keeping my focus on French for at least the next 4 months, so we'll see how much I've progressed by January!

astrorainfall, thanks for that inspiration. I'm ahead and somehow managing to convince myself that I need a little time for adjustment. :)