I’ll admit, this whole relationship has been getting me down lately. It’s not that the honeymoon phase has worn off or anything—I’m still just as in love as the first day—but this constant rejection is getting to me.
Washington DC is making me feel like I only went to college to get my MRS. degree, and I don’t appreciate it. I studied for a purpose, thank you, so stop getting in my way.
Yes, the rat race is beginning to upset me. (Sometimes literally; those mutant rodents in my back alley would eat you alive if given half a chance, much like their political counter-parts.) A solid university degree apparently isn’t worth [the tens of thousands it cost] as much as it used to anymore.
I’m tired of being a wallflower here; that’s what it feels like. I‘ve been waiting to be old enough to attend the party, practiced the steps for years, and now no one wants to dance with me. Never mind that I have excellent ballroom skills, or the fact that I’ve been assertive and sough out opportunities on my own countless times. I simply don’t seem to have good prospects.
It’s a tough experience to endure, especially when it seems to be so easily handed to others. This city is chock full of debutantes literally bred for the privilege, their dance cards full and the entire night laid out so attractively for them. Some had even been courted or engaged to before they even arrived at the dance.
I’m not the type to sit about moping “it’s not fair!” But frankly, my dear, this is absolute bullshit.
I’m accomplished. I have a well-rounded education, and several impressive specializations. I interned under a few incredible mentors who trained me well. I’m well traveled, cultured, diplomatic. I plan on graduate school eventually, but wanted to gain real-world experience before going further into debt. A year into alumni life, I’ve learned one lesson damn well: don’t ever leave school.
Entry-level jobs in DC are now asking for Master’s degrees, and requiring 3-5 years experience. (I call it ‘job inflation’; everyone was downsized during the recession, so the job market is flooded with higher-qualified employees being hired back for lower-level jobs us newbies normally would get. It’s a bitch.) Internships are unpaid (unless you’re an engineer; in that case, you chose the correct major, and I hate you), but the cost of living is high and unforgiving. At this rate, it looks like my jokes about living in Rock Creek Park with DC’s other homeless when I first struggled with my housing hunt last year might end up becoming true.
I’ve gambled with my internship choices since coming here, and lost the bet. Rather than going to the Hill like I should have, I selected to provide my overqualified and unpaid labor to an organization more in my field of study. The general deal being that I work a few months pushing their papers and going by the wrong name to their oblivious executive board, and then they connect me to actual job opportunities. I had some money from a grandparent to supplement my restaurant/unpaid internship schedule, but burned through it without the promised pay-out. This is what I imagine working the stock market feels like; no wonder Wall Street windows don’t open any more.
So I keep tapping my toes to the beat, looking longingly at Washington glide through my favorite dances, and try to stifle my shame at being left out.
Because that’s what it is, at the end of the day. It isn’t loneliness, or frustration, or even disappointment. It is a soul-wrenching, heart-breaking shame. The goal I’ve longed for since a little girl (yes, I was a mad nerdy little politico-kid, what of it?) is within my reach. It’s within my grasp, just there on the dance floor, but passes me by with each turn. All I’ve worked for, groomed my intellect and acquired skills to fulfill, doesn’t want me.
Yes, I burn with shame against my wall, as everyone else asks, “So, who is your escort?”
“I don’t exactly have one yet… But this is such a lovely event.” The smile plastered on, my mask such a painful ornament at this twisted masquerade. I tire of wearing it, and drink liquid courage to bolster my nerves. It doesn’t really help, but it helps me forget to cry.
I haven’t stopped flirting, of course. Whenever I see an attractive chance (or at this point, even a vaguely suitable match), I pounce. What I want to know is at what point does it become desperate, or simply futile. When should a girl give up and move home to be a spinster working at the village bakery?
The only validation I’ve received lately is from this blog, little though it is. Though I may not seem attractive to suitors professionally to jumpstart my career, this Washington wallflower at least gets the “but you’re so funny, why wouldn’t anyone want you!” platitude.
Most days, it’s a joy to just sit back and listen to the music. ‘Accept what you can’t change, focus on what you can’, and all that. But every now and then, it’s too painful to be surrounded by dancers when every fiber of my being is vibrating to join them. It’s where I belong; why won’t anyone give me a chance?
I promise I won’t step on your toes…