So, the holidays are over, New Years’ has just been and the past year is gone. A year of great challenges but also a year of incredible personal achievements.
I step into the new year as a 30-year-old cis woman and I made some great things happen this past year. I joined the women’s network Her Hustle, got engaged on a Swedish mountain, and adopted the cutest puppy.
As I sit down to write this, my adorable pup is trying to get the treats out of his toy, but I can’t seem to shake this thing my now-fiance said to me. I was sitting on the kitchen floor on New Year’s Eve; no, not a drunk floor moment, I was having an anxiety attack. I cried for my unhappiness/failure and hyperventilated into a panic. Almost a year has gone by without work.
So there I sit, crying over what I’ve lost when my dearest asks me: was I happy a year ago? When I was working, but terrified of asking for a raise, struggling to talk about money and equality with those who paid me. Those who paid me to live, eat and sleep. Those who paid me for doing something I loved. Was I happy then? No, I was anxious, worried, and stressed. I remember not getting the NYE shift and that it went to one of the extra male engineers and that I wasn’t even considered. No matter how hard I worked or how much I worked, I felt that I was valued less. I still didn’t have enough money to become a citizen in a country I lived and worked in for over 11 years. I still didn’t have enough to save for my future nor to get a driving license. Which in retrospect could’ve been useful now, I could’ve been a delivery driver… because right now I’m not useful, I’m not working. I’m just waiting…
Human rights activist Mohamed Ali talks about “waithood” in his TedX seminar The Link Between Unemployment and Terrorism. He talks about Somalia where poverty and unemployment are common. He tells a story about a young man that is one of many poor young people in his country. One day he’s approached by a gentleman who feeds him, houses him, gives him purpose and a community. A few years later he blew himself up in Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia. The gentleman belonged to a terrorist group Al Shabaab which has links to Al Qaeda. (The reason why I know this is because of my podcast that I started this summer. It’s called And It Went Like This Podcast, so please have a listen and share.) Now I’m not saying that all unemployed will resort to terrorism, but the story shows what desperation to occupy ourselves can lead us to. What Mohamed calls “waithood”, can change us for the worse.
We are right now all in this “waithood”. We don’t know what the lineup is nor the curfew of this disease or if there’s a support act coming to soundcheck… But if there’s anything we sound engineers are good at. It’s winging it!
So stay safe and resilient.