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“Not all those who wander are lost.” J. R. R. Tolkien (Illustration by Jim Hunt)

“Not all those who wander are lost.” J. R. R. Tolkien (Illustration by Jim Hunt)

“Not all those who wander are lost,” said J. R. R. Tolkien.

“But some of us wander a lot longer than others,” I’d like to add.

Recently I submitted a job application to a local technical school. It was the sixth one like it. I received my sixth form letter saying, “Thank you for your interest and the time you spent interviewing. While your background and experience are impressive, we regret …”

Funny thing is, I didn’t regret the rejection at all, which made me wonder why I keep applying. Unless it’s because I don’t think I deserve the job I have, or maybe I’m afraid I’ll fail at it.  

This is nothing new. I stocked the back room of a clothing store during my summer break from teaching, which postponed graduate classes I needed to take so I could work as a guidance counselor. Eventually I took the classes and got the counseling position, but talk about wandering.

I’ve also worked as a waitress, gift wrapper, maid, photographer’s assistant, cross-stitcher, cashier, customer service rep, sales clerk, secretary and book shipper. I’ve aimed at, but stopped short of wandering into jobs as a real estate agent, social worker, and magazine ad salesperson. Last month, I picked up an application for a front desk attendant at the YMCA and checked online ads for cashiers at a big box store.

Applying for jobs is my distraction of choice. 

I fill out application after application because either I don’t trust the right job will come along or, if it does, I don’t trust I can do it. When I got a call about supervising interns at the local university, a position I worked for six years until I quit to take writing classes, I kept cleaning houses for months afterwards in case the university job didn’t last.

I’m doing the same thing now that I’m freelance writing. I’m distracting myself because I’m afraid.

“Are you finished with all this nonsense and ready to stick with doing what you love?” said my husband. He’s asked that question as many times as I’ve applied for jobs.

How about you? Are you finished with your nonsense?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I’m committed to doing the work I love from here on out, at least until the next job recommendation comes to my inbox.

On the side: For more illustrations, check out Jim Hunt Illustration.

Great resources for figuring out your perfect job and how to get there:

The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron

Work With Passion: How to Do What You Love for a Living by Nancy Anderson

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