By Christina Capecchi
It is a curious thing to receive bad news from a chipper person. There’s a point at which the facts crack the cheery façade, and no degree of optimism or exclamation points can keep it from crumbling.
The other day, for example, a 20-something couple e-mailed an update on their job search. “We’re now applying to jobs nationally,” the wife wrote. “So wherever you are, we’re open to relocating for full-time positions!”
The jovial upside — “We might just move to your town!” — didn’t mask the unwritten downside — “that’s how badly we need work … any work, anywhere.”
What a job market, that a highly-educated, hard-working twosome must cast their net from sea to shining sea, that all the other factors influencing where they’d like to live are now being trumped by the promise of a paycheck. Imagine them Googling towns they’ve never heard of, looking for a flicker of familiarity, a hint of connection, something to grab onto.
As 2010 has marched on, the number of Americans who have been unemployed for at least half a year has steadily climbed, now reaching 6.5 million. They’ve faced fierce competition, job seekers outnumbering job openings five to one. Technically, that means you have better odds of getting into Northwestern University, where the average freshman’s ACT score exceeds 30.
Then again, it’s no longer clear a prestigious education will pay off. A good friend of mine who earned her master’s at Northwestern has moved back in with her parents and has been temping for more than a year — which, she confided over discounted mojitos — means she’s been slowly going insane. This is a woman who’s been networking and volunteering up the wazoo, praying to St. Joseph with every submitted résumé.
I know what it’s like to feel butterflies when you click send. As a freelance writer, I cast a steady stream of pitches and bids into the cyber abyss, which feels vast and soundless.
It may be the special lot of the recessionary 20-something to keep putting herself out there, to have much to prove and to begin each day at what feels like square one. So we blog and tweet and reach out, sending out mass e-mails that are white flags, pleas wrapped in pleasantries. You don’t have to dig deep to pick up on the urgency behind the courtesy — when “thank you for your consideration” means “pretty please with sugar on top” and “at your convenience” slides into “at your earliest convenience,” a pinched kind of polite panic.
When your life’s achievements, polished and bulleted, don’t merit so much as a “got it, thanks,” it’s easy to feel very, very small.
The Holy Father has a message for that particular instance. He urged young adults gathered in Rome last month to draw strength from this truth: “My life has been willed by God since eternity. I am loved, I am necessary. God has a plan for me in the totality of history: He has a plan specifically for me.”
It is a dramatic paradigm shift for the job seeker, rightfully concerned about cell-phone and car-insurance bills that can’t quite be shelved to eternity. But it is a mantra to keep you plugging away: “I am loved, I am necessary.” And it is pretty amazing that God’s plan for you, though it doesn’t match your timeline, stands to be noticed in “the totality of history.”
So take a deep breath and the long view. The master’s plan is unfolding right now.