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 Replies

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • (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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