Sarah O'Connor

Writer – Playwright – Cannot Save You From The Robot Apocalypse

Normally if I was writing one of my usual “I have nothing to write” posts I’d tell you about my week, as I’ve done twice now. But my weeks aren’t as exciting as they used to be, not since I’ve been laid off. At least then I was guaranteed to be busy for eight hours five days a week, now I have a lot more time to fill up.

Which I’ve been doing, and I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job of it. I’ve been walking a lot, swimming at a rec centre near me. I’ve had more time to hang out with my friends, and I’ve started playing Ultimate Frisbee, which I would have been doing if I was employed or not. I still have my other job that I work once or twice a week at. And most important I’ve been writing a lot more, every day for at least two hours, more if I can fit it in. And I’m happy that I have this free time to do all this, to focus on me and to write what I want, to write without fear of being tired after working or trying to schedule it in between work hours and social time.

I just don’t like being unemployed.

I don’t like seeing my bank account go down each week and not going back up like it used to. Well, it should be now. I’m on unemployment for the summer, until my job resumes in the fall. I haven’t checked how much it is, I know it won’t be a lot, but it will be something to get my account going up again. Something to calm me down.

I’ve always worried about money, even though I don’t need to be. I grew up very privileged and we never lived paycheck to paycheck. We weren’t a rich family, but we always had enough money to go up North for the summer every year and some small trips in-between. We never had to worry about not having enough money to pay the bills, or go see live theatre, or fix something in the house that needed repair. When my mom got sick and had to take a leave off work, and my dad took his leave because of his heart, there was some worry. There wasn’t a lot of money coming in, and my sister and I were in school which didn’t help. But we still made it through, the bills were always paid on time, we always had enough money for food and fun, we especially needed it for fun at that time. We had a moment of tightness, but we managed to squeeze through it.

I don’t know why I worry so much about it. Again, I’m privileged. I live at home with my dad and he has reminded me again and again that I can live at home for as long as I’d like, that I always have a home to come back to if things don’t turn out with whatever the future holds. He doesn’t make me pay rent and helped my sister and I pay for our schooling.

I am very privileged, and so I shouldn’t worry about these things.

But I do.

My head takes one small thing and sends it spiraling. I think about money, and how I’m not making much right now, and how it will dwindle down each month, and how I will be poor even though I know none of these things will happen. But my head likes to make connections that don’t exist, create scenarios and possibilities that will never happen.

Like when I was told I was laid off and I immediately started blaming myself and my work ethic and saying that I wasn’t good enough for my job when none of that was true. I was laid off because of road construction outside the store, because sales have been down, because apples aren’t the hot fruit of the summer. It had nothing to do with me, and I had to remind myself of that.

I have to keep reminding myself about that.

I also dislike being unemployed because I just like working. I like the structure of it, I like getting to see my co-workers every day and getting to talk to them. I like having something planned during my weekday and planning around that. And even though I’ve been looking and applying for summer jobs I haven’t gotten any interviews yet.

And I keep wondering what’s wrong with me.

Which again, is my head being stupid. I applied for these jobs in May and a lot of summer jobs don’t start until July, they may not call me until June. Or, they might not call me at all. And that’s not to say that my head is right by saying something’s wrong with me, but I’ve always had trouble finding jobs.

The moment I turned sixteen I went on an application frenzy applying to each and every part-time job I could find without any luck. I even went to McDonald’s on National Hiring Day and they didn’t want me. The only job I could find for my remaining high school years was a seasonal job at Party City, and for those two years of work I only worked for two months.

I had no luck when I started university either, applying everywhere I could find on and off-campus again to no avail. The only thing that saved me was the Work Study program, which hired students on OSAP and gave them a certain number of hours to work each week somewhere on campus. My sister and I were lucky enough to get hired at the Health Sciences Library, and it still remains one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

I took a break after my library job ended when I graduated university. It was my last summer before I worked for a living so I might as well enjoy it (or so I thought). But right when I got back from holidays I applied in a frenzy again and was surprised to hear back from two places so soon and to be hired by both a week a part from each other.

This is a long way of saying I know things will work out. I have to fight with the part of my head that says “everything you do is doomed” with the logical part that says “everything will be okay.” I know it will, I know things are now even though I never could have predicted this. Even if I don’t get a job this summer, I know I will be fine, that I have enough money in the bank keep me afloat for a good long while if I needed it. That I have my friends to keep me happy and my family to help me. I will be fine.

I just have to keep reminding myself of that.

(Inside Out poster found here.)


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