Going the Distance

My dear friend Felix has been suggesting for a while that I read my copy of Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It’s been sitting in my room since 2008ish and I attempted to get into it several times with no success. Until last night.
Part of the reason my brain didn’t want to consume the text was due to my deep resistance to jogging. I’m happy if anyone else enjoys it but it’s just not for me. I’m more a long distance walker (no really: I’d rather walk than get in a crowded box to get to my destination).
But as I turned the pages last night I realised Murakami’s words didn’t just ring true for joggers or writers, they rang true regarding the last nine months of my life as a job seeker, particularly in terms of endurance.
Since August I’ve applied for 50 something jobs … so since December I must have applied for well over a hundred. Just recently I came very close to getting two positions I very much wanted, I’d even composed a witty I got a job!-related FB post in my head and thought about how good it would feel (I also thought about how bad it would feel if I didn’t get them – it’s not good to count your chickens etc). But then – no dice. They gave the positions to someone else. Shitballs.
Over the last few weeks I’ve felt like a total loser. My confidence has been shot by many stressful occurrences and I’m worried about lots of things such as the fact we have to soon move house in a bad rental market. I haven’t been sleeping and I’ve not felt like talking to most people about personal stuff. By yesterday my endurance was spent, but thankfully I had an appointment scheduled with my psychologist. I went and cried at him on and off for an hour. It wasn’t just a few tears, it was full on distressed sobbing. If I had cried at anyone else in such a way (apart from my mum) I would have felt bad but (again with ‘but’) it’s part (or much) of his job to listen and I knew he’d understand as we’re on the same wavelength with most things. I’m pretty lucky to have found someone who can actually relate to me; it’s really very helpful.
When I got home I had a nap and then another nap, applied for three jobs, finished a different book about (appropriately enough) war. At about midnight I picked up Murakami and forced myself to listen to what he has to say. I’m glad I did.
The things he describes as essential for a writer are talent, focus and endurance. These apply also not only to jogging but in job seeking too. You have to be able to string a sentence together and create something so that your potential employer sits up and takes notice. This doesn’t always come naturally. If you focus, however, that helps a lot. Being able to maintain your focus for long stretches of work (and job seeking is work, I don’t care what anyone else says) takes endurance. Like Murakami did in some horrific sounding marathon right now I have to firstly pace myself as I push forward to my goal. When my endurance packs in and I start to falter, I need to pick myself up to drag myself across the finish line. It’s something I do as a writer and a student of writing, now those lessons must be applied to my current marathon of finding a job. Weird thing is, I knew all this somewhere in the back of my brainal area. However, when you’re feeling lost it’s good to have something which reminds you that these skills are inherent. Even though you may be lying in a hot mess of personal hell, well you’ve broken through walls before; you just have to put one foot in front of the other and see it through. It’s a been a bloody long marathon for me and I can’t wait for it to end so I can crack open a beer and put my exhausted feet up.

Thanks must go to Murakami, dear Felix and my excellent psychologist for helping me get my second wind.

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