Giving back in 2020.

A couple of months ago I got to the Last Interview stage for three jobs that I really wanted, but I was passed over for someone else. It happens, no big deal, but…it kind of is?

A thing about me: I’ve always thought my best quality was likability.

I had a hard time fitting in when I was growing up, but once I hit college, I’d learned to navigate my anxieties and traumas and I could pretty much win over any crowd. For years and years I relied on that knowledge to make me feel better when depression got the best of me: you’re not the hottest, the richest, the funniest — but everybody likes having you around and you’re interesting to talk to.

That translated to employment. Before this past year, I’d never gone on that many interviews. Getting past the resume / phone interview stage was a hurdle, but if I could GET in someone’s FACE for an interview, I always got the job — because I’m smart & likable.

I’m not likable right now. I’m DEPRESSED. I’ve been off my meds for months and I have no drive to DO anything. I have nothing to say in a group so I avoid my friends and decline invitations. I just feel like a sad, energy-stealing burden.

After the third job I didn’t get, I had to be honest with myself: the qualifications were there and they liked what I had to say or I wouldn’t have gotten so many interviews. In the end, they just liked someone else. They would rather work with someone else.

Woe is me, I’m so sad, nobody likes me, not even the upper management white lady tasked with finding her new mid-level underling.

So how do we fix this? How do I climb out of this hole without access to a mental health professional because I’m jobless and without insurance?

We’re going back to volunteering y’all!

When I first moved to NYC, I was living with 3 strangers in a 4th floor walkup in Bushwick where people made/sold crack in the basement. My room was so little, I had to stand the mattress up against the wall during the day so I could walk. I couldn’t get any job interviews for anything that paid enough to live and I was a cashier at Bed Bath & Beyond living on ramen & bologna for MONTHS. I felt awful, but I had a roof and food and my health, which is three more things than a lot of people.

I started volunteering at a battered women’s shelter in a Catholic church to stop wallowing in self pity and refocus my perspective. Years later I was running a kid’s program there and volunteering 3-5 times a week. When church leadership changed, they demoted me. They didn’t want a queer atheist running a program in their church. They told me I could keep volunteering, but I left, because I was hurt and upset. I started that program and they took it from me, so I felt bitter.

I’m going back next week. I miss my kids! And so what if someone else is running it? Nobody connected with those bad ass kids the way I did and they need me. 💅 Selfish or not, I need to feel needed. In a way it’s transactional — the kids get a mentor and I get a spark.

Depression manifests itself differently in everybody, but I used to say this a long time ago and I want to remind anybody else in a similar situation: maybe find a way to give back something. The joy of giving is a real thing, and helping someone to better their circumstances can sometimes help you to better yours.

I feel a little better already.

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