Agency

This promises to cover lots of ground in leaps and bounds. I am once again having the same troubles with agency that I’ve been having all my life. The first reading at Mass yesterday was the story of Abraham and Isaac, one which has caused no end of problems for no end of thoughtful persons over the years. After Mass, I went home and busted out Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling and reread bits and pieces of it, searching for a hint about what was bugging me from the reading. I didn’t exactly find it there, but I did remember something I assimilated sometime in the mists of the past.

I remember being taught that since God has given us everything that is our existence, when he requires it back from us, we should willingly give it. If that is true, all right. But essentially it seems to indicate that we have no agency of our own. If everything is a gift from God, none of my actions and efforts earn me anything. No matter how hard I work I ultimately have to depend on someone else for approval. This might sound like a “life is unfair” whine, but my main complaint is that I feel like I have no proof that my action A will result in effect B.

It really shouldn’t be a surprise that I’m currently dissatisfied; the job interview process requires extensive amounts of effort and stress but ultimately places all power in the hand of the prospective employer. To my current employer I’m nothing more than a resource to be exploited for as hard and long as possible. This weekend I ran into a neighbor and he mentioned that I’d been bitching on my blog and said it in such a way that I felt he thought I had no right to be dissatisfied with my life as it stands. So I suppose I haven’t effectively articulated my dissatisfaction.

The conundrum: I want to feel like the work that I do earns me the means to live a life that I enjoy. I want to end each day feeling that I have accomplished something worthwhile and congratulate myself for that and reenergize for the next day’s accomplishment. Yet my current lot does not provide any of these things. The job seach exacerbates this feeling of helplessness because it is basically begging dressed up in a tie. My pride resents that. But how do I find a path that fills me with agency?

I’ve always wanted to be in full control of myself, and I know that in some ways my life would be much more varied if I let loose a little, cared a little less about my feelings and those of others. Trusted more. Whatever. The times I’ve attempted this usually ended painfully. I don’t want to depend on someone else’s approval to live my life.

I think this means I should be self-employed. But what to do and how to afford it? I’ve got no ideas on that account. I’ve got a phone interview with a place in NYC today, and hopefully another one will be lined up by the end of the week. I’ve gotten more action from NYC in a week than I did in 9 months in Cleveland. Places there seem to like my resume, which is nice to hear; I’d been starting to think it wasn’t any good. I’m tired of being less than my best by someone else’s leave. I’m flailing around, trying to grab on to some sort of rock to steady me, but I have to be my own rock. As much as I cherish my self-reliance, it feels awfully stale sometimes.

5 thoughts on “Agency

  1. Adam,
    There might be a job opening up at ND that you may or may not be interested in. Catch me on IM for more details.

  2. I try to differentiate between my autonomy as an agent who can please humans (including myself) and who can please God. In fact, my understanding of the Bible leads me to believe I’m incapable of pleasing God without God doing it through me, anyway. Theoretically, this shouldn’t impinge on the importance of agency and its effects in this world.

    As far as jobs and self-reliance are concerned, I feel ya. I think you have to find a *really* special place to not feel like a resource. Interested in anything at onbase.com/jobs? Can’t promise ya much but a recommendation…

  3. (catching up after being on vacation)

    Don’t let anyone tell you you don’t have a right to be unhappy with your current job. Having a job that sucks makes your life suck. I know because I used to have one- I worked in a brainless job for a horrible bitch who derived joy out of screwing her employees and playing with their minds. Now I have a great job with a great boss and I’m much happier. So, yea, keep on keeping on.

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