Friday, May 06, 2005

Whiny, middle-class bullshit angst

So this morning my old boss here (chair of the job selection committee) calls me in and tells me that they’ve offered the job to the other guy (the guy I thought looked like he’d get it). There was all sorts of stuff about how everybody agreed I would be great etc etc (it was genuine; I think people do think I’d be OK), but the other guy had experience they couldn’t turn down – a private sector job building a serious publication from nothing, success writing funding proposals, software knowledge, training experience…

I wasn’t slighted, professionally – the decision was completely fair enough and, despite rumblings to the contrary, I never assumed the job was mine. My gut feeling was that I wouldn’t get it and in a lot of ways I came to see this as a good thing. The fact is that despite everything – interesting work (on paper at least) in international research/development, plenty of money (not great salary in oz terms, but way more than enough in the Philippines), wonderful girlfriend etc – I’m not happy here.

I don’t know if I’m just in a temporary trough or whether it is just living here. I have enough decent friends here, but only a couple of friends around whom I can let all the filters down and be truly honest. (And I’m so negative just now that I risk alienating them). I think that’s the crux of it. Back home I have a heap of friends around whom I can genuinely relax and be myself. I miss them a lot right now.

The wellbeing manifesto gets into this. I feel a long way from where the manifesto is pointing, and I’m probably facing the wrong direction.

Anyway, my initial reaction was quite numb. It was mainly negative but I think mostly because I was worried about D’s reaction, and what the fuck would happen between her and me and what the fuck I actually wanted. Nothing really connected with the job, or not getting it.

Then, this afternoon, one of the selection committee members leaks to me that over lunchtime, the guy has emailed to say he’s turning down the job and accepting a gig with Lonely Planet. And suddenly it’s mine. The committee chair unofficially confirmed this a few minutes ago. My response this time was more profoundly negative. All I could think about was “can I handle 3 more years here without losing it?” Maybe that’s the secret – maybe I need to snap and do something ‘radical’ (quote marks indicate that I’m speaking in relative terms) and finally take (what is really not that big) a risk and start living life the way I think I actually should, and the way I would advise someone unfortunate enough to ask me.

I told J about it; I’ll tell D tonight. Just now, they're the only people I can be truly honest with. Apart from that, I’m just dreading the handshakes and back-pats and congratulations when it’s official and everyone else finds out and I have to pretend it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

Because I will take this job. I’ll do what’s expected and make what is regarded by the mainstream, by authority, as the logical, wise, sensible decision. My own thoughts scream at me that life is too short for this shit. Why do feel so much pressure to do what’s expected? I could turn it down, head home (relationship with D notwithstanding) and a year from now, nobody would even remember that I didn’t do what everybody thought I should. But no…

Ha. If the emaciated homeless kids wading through sewage in the Manila slums think they have problems, they should talk to me. I’ll give them some good fucking whiny middle-class angst to think about.


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