As I briefly referenced, but didn’t really explain in my previous posts, I’ve found myself suddenly unemployed.

As a freelancer, it’s hard to be “unemployed”. You understand there are times when you’ll have more work than you can handle, and other times when the jobs aren’t there. However, my time working as a freelance writer has been filled with a series of fortunate happenstances that have allowed me to avoid the struggle and worry that many experience.

With my typical lack of humility, I thought this was due to some sort of talent on my part, as well as the tendency I have to approach any new project with extreme enthusiasm. Within a few weeks of deciding to become a freelance writer, I landed a gig with a company that taught me all about writing for SEO gigs, as well as putting out well-written content for websites. I applied for every “content mill” (places with plentiful projects that want you to write for virtually nothing, often for a penny a word or less, but pay promptly and are known to be reputable) that other writers were using. I was accepted at all of them. Bolstered by this success, I started to apply for jobs for which I wasn’t particularly well-qualified, having a month’s experience in the industry under my belt.

Two of them panned out, and became reliable sources of income that have enabled me to work for myself for the past two years. For awhile, they were even allowing me to thrive. I had sub-contractors working for me, because I had more work than I could ever handle. I eventually dropped almost everything, choosing to work full-time for a company that seemed to believe in me. There were people above me on the food chain that were full of praise and positive feedback regarding my writing. I was told clients were specifically asking for me. I was promoted through the ranks, and people in other divisions of the company sent me their overflow work. In short, I was very proud that I was succeeding at work.

Then, everything changed. Unfortunately, it changed right after I was diagnosed with a chronic illness, one that left me unable to work as quickly as I might have liked to for some time. Right after that, my roommate moved out with no notice, effectively doubling my expenses. I went from being on a path to improving my life and correcting mistakes I’d made with my finances and lack of focus to being beaten down lower than ever.

All of the sudden, all the people who encouraged and supported me either left the company or were told to leave the company. Everyone took a 60-70% pay cut. Then, the work dried up, turning my full-time job into something that paid less than working at McDonald’s. Unfortunately, being ill, I didn’t have the stamina to go seek full-time employment outside of my home—I still don’t—and it seemed like opportunity was just nowhere to be found.

I stuck with the company, even as new people were brought in, and more and more “guidelines” and “24 hour deadlines” were implemented for less pay. A “rating” system was implemented, as well as new editors brought in, and I went from being one of the most praised and valuable writers to crying because an article that earned me $3 was torn apart by an editor. To add insult to injury, my communication with the editor made it clear I was a far superior writer, and being judged by someone who couldn’t do what I do as well (or better) was a slap in the face. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t worthwhile anymore, why nobody praised me or rewarded me, why I couldn’t pay my bills, but didn’t have time to look for other projects.

Last week, I was late with an assignment. My last trio of assignments for the day was turned in 90 minutes late. My immediate superior told me that he’d made it clear that if I missed deadlines, he wouldn’t send me work anymore, so effectively, I was fired. I appealed this decision to one of the owners of the company, someone I thought was fond of me, but she wrote back a bland e-mail telling me she was sorry my immediate supervisor and I were unable to come to terms over these issues and she appreciated my loyalty and hard work over the past two years.

It sucks to be fired in a passive-aggressive way, one where nobody uses the word “fired”. You just happen to not receive work from your place of employment anymore. To be honest, I felt a little betrayed by this company. Once upon a time, I felt valuable and essential and as if working for them meant something. By the end, I felt thoroughly expendable, and I was.

I have a problem in life that’s consistent: I never know when to leave. I don’t know if it’s a fear of change (even letting go of something that causes me distress, like my former roommate, who was blatantly toxic to my way of life.), a belief that I can always make things better or that things will get better if I wait it out, or just a sense of loyalty. (I don’t have very many views that fall into categories like “morality” and “ethics”; I’m mostly a walking grey area. However, loyalty is something I demand from anyone wishing to be in my life long-term, and so I deliver it in return.) I stay in relationships long after it’s clear to me that things are over, that there’s no future. I stay in an apartment I dislike because moving is an expensive hassle. I stick with choices that don’t further me in my life goals or make me a happier person because I’m afraid the next choice will suck even more than the previous one.

At the same time, in other points in my life, I’ve been downright impulsive. I was reminded this year that I still have some of that quality lurking around in me. I seem to be an impulsive person who wants security, so refuses to let go of anything that resembles it.

I would love to decide I’m not going to work for the next year, that I’m going to travel and write my novel and step outside of my comfort zone and regain my health and focus on achieving dreams. However, none of those things pay the bills, and I don’t really have the energy to devote to all of those things, plus paying the bills. The end result is me stressing out over paying the bills, and wishing I could live a different kind of life, one where I was healthy and didn’t have to concern myself with frivolities like money and could view life as an experience, not an obligation. I used to live that way, but it came at a pretty heavy price. I am older and wiser and no longer have the luxury of viewing the world that way; responsibility has to be more important than dreams. Yet, living that way robs my day of joy, makes me feel so much older than I am.

I haven’t felt like me in a long time, save for little periods of time here and there where I realised “I’m happy because I don’t have to worry about the day-to-day obligations of life. I’m just living.”

Apparently, I’m a girl who needs to work for a living who was born to be either an aristocrat or a starving bohemian. *laughs*

I am anxious again, about finding work that pays the bills, about the future. I am anxious that time is slipping away from me, that my health and youth and vitality are disappearing. I am anxious that I am struggling so through what are supposed to be the best years of my life, and if I don’t do something, accomplish something soon to ensure my security in this world, I’m going to be a 70-year-old woman who has been cast aside, has no money, poor health, and nobody who truly cares. That thought terrifies me, because I didn’t spend my 20′s thinking about my future or building my career. All the things that truly make me happy are transient, insecure, valuable for the moment, but later just memories.

I have a supportive group of friends, people who tell me that I feel doors closing all around me because it’s time to make dramatic changes, to let go of what does not help me grow as a person. These people look at me and see potential I do not see, see a person I do not see. What I look at as a loss of security or a rock to lean on, they view as letting go of an albatross keeping me from doing something great and valuable.

I don’t have time to do something great and valuable. I am no literary genius, no celebrity, no great talent or beauty or intellect or charmer. I am just like everyone else, simply more lost. I don’t know how to live a life I love without starving on the street, because what I love is beauty and luxury and elegance and fun. In many ways, I am a frivolous person who likes being amused as much as possible. In other ways, I’m a creative and intelligent and highly sensitive person who loves thoughts and ideas and using my energy to create, instead of working for survival.

I don’t know what to do with my life. I wish I could do something I loved, that also gave me a sense of security, as well as some of the little luxuries that make life an experience. But I’m a grown-up; an ill person with seriously ill parents from which I am somewhat estranged. I know that I’ve been alone in my life for a long time; when all my friends had family to help them finance their dreams, set up a new apartment, or move to a new city, I was on my own. However, I can’t help but feel that someday soon, I’ll be even more alone, because the family that isn’t really part of my life won’t even be there.

The future frightens me. The uncertainty frightens me. It never used to, because I always thought I was young and had the luxury of doing whatever I wanted, and mistakes didn’t have consequences. I’ve learned otherwise, and as a result, learned to fear uncertainty. I am no longer young and out there “experiencing”; I’m an adult who is supposed to have goals and plans and stability.

I wonder why it is not in my nature to be that person, especially if I have gifts and talents and potential that others see in me. I don’t think I am lazy, because when I love something, I throw myself into it wholeheartedly. When I have an ambition, little can stand in my way. But I am largely uninspired; acquiring the tools for day-to-day survival doesn’t seem to motivate me as it does everyone else in the world.

I don’t look at life the same way everyone else does, I think. While some find this charming or think I am somehow interesting or unconventional or wise, I don’t know it serves me well in a practical sense.

I might want to permanently trade in my joie de vivre for practicality, or actively look to marry well. Yet, doing the first left me with an anxiety disorder, and I’ve failed at the second, multiple times. I seem to pass up opportunities that may provide me with the security I claim to want, in favour of independence and freedom, something I haven’t been aware until recently was that valuable to me. Yet, to be independent, you need the tools and temperament to survive independently. I don’t possess either.

So, again, what is it that I want to do with my life? *sighs*

Dreamlike Nymph
If the world of dreams truly is an interesting look into a person’s subconscious, a way to explore one’s deeper self, I’m a case study any Freudian would love. My dreams are so vibrant and real that they’re often a second life—or, since there’s a video game that’s already claimed title to that one—a third life. They run the gamut from realistic dreams that seem no different from anything that could happen to me in everyday life, often leaving me confused and disoriented when I realise those things didn’t happen, to fantastic, movie-quality scenarios complete with plots and well-developed characters (I once dreamed up an entire movie where a companion and I were forced to hide and then flee from Nazis that were pursuing us, all within a maze of an industrial-looking building.). I’ve dreamed up Law & Order episodes from beginning to end, as if I were watching them on television. Sometimes, I am a character in both sorts of dreams. Sometimes, I’m an observer, the omniscient third party watching or telling the story. I’ve had multiple dreams where I see/experience my own death, only from the third-person perspective, so that waking up upon dying (as happens in most death-related dreams) doesn’t always happen, allowing me a glimpse of this “after death” world. The thing I’ve taken away from these dreams is that death is not painful or scary; the moment when it occurs, my death in the dream world, I feel a sense of numbness, of everything draining from me, followed by a sense of lightness and non-being.

Again, a more spiritual or psychologically-intuitive person would probably have much to say about that.

Sometimes, DreamLand is populated by people I know, and the emotional attachments and feelings I have toward them reflected by my dreams. Other times, particularly when the story does not involve me, my dreams are populated by people and places I don’t know. This led to a period of me believing I had “psychic dreams”, as I’ve had a number of dreams involving scary and unfamiliar scenarios which then happen within a day or two of the dream. My earliest remembrance of a “psychic dream” was as an adolescent, dreaming about being stuck on an amusement park ride that wouldn’t stop…it just kept going faster and faster until it crashed. The next afternoon, a mishap happened at an area amusement park where a rollercoaster malfunctioned, killing 13 people and shutting down the park temporarily.

One thing that bothers me is that I will often have dreams about those with whom I have personal relationships, and it’s difficult for me to tell the difference between what is some form of intuition or future-prediction, and what is simply a reflection of my subconscious. I can clearly recall sleeping next to an ex-boyfriend, and every single time, I’d have a dream in which he’d cheat on me or betray my trust. In reality, he was doing exactly that, many times, though my conscious self didn’t discover it until months later. I also had a recurring dream when living with another ex-boyfriend, in which we were not together, but I could see his life with another girl, a person I’d never met, but I could describe in exacting detail. I’d jokingly told him my mind had found his perfect woman, because every time, she was the same person. After we broke up, he sent me a message telling me he’d met someone, and the odd thing about that was the resemblance to the girl in my dreams when we were together.

I often have dreams in which the Guy I Am Currently Dating and I experience some sort of discord. This is almost always based upon him blatantly ignoring me, physically walking away from me, or abandoning me for someone else. It makes sense that, on a subconscious level, this is a concern of mine. He is the type of person who hides his feelings rather than engage in conflict, is often busy with a number of obligations, and with whom I have a special connection, but frequently question whether or not it is that “soulmate” thing my idealistic self searches for. (although my rational self does not believe in, and hence the belief that I am essentially a non-monogamous person, always in need of a different person to fulfill different pieces of human connection that are dear to me.) I have had these dreams, of being painfully ignored or abandoned in different scenarios, almost since the start of our relationship.

Last night, I had a dream in which we were at an event, filled with people. There was a lovely woman in a long white dress—a person who does in fact exist—who was speaking at the event. I had completed something I had to do, when I spotted The Guy I Am Currently Dating talking to this woman. I went over to approach them, and they hurriedly rushed away together, pretending not to see or hear me, although I know they did.

In my dream, I followed them, and eventually found them, lying on a secluded grassy hill, talking to one another in that close but not necessarily physical way that people share when they are not yet lovers, or have a past history that’s difficult to avoid. Despite the fact that all they were doing was talking, the intimacy of their body language upset me, and I confronted them.

The Guy I Am Currently Dating looked guilty, and said nothing, while the woman accused me of overreacting, being irrational and crazy. I remember telling her, “Look, I don’t know what’s going on with you guys, but you can have him, because I deserve better”. When she insisted that she didn’t know what I was talking about and nothing was going on, I said, “I’ve seen the way he looks at you, and I’m so sick of the way he talks about you, like you’re this perfect ideal woman that can do no wrong. Whether you see it or not, I deserve someone who looks at ME that way, who talks about ME that way. I’m so tired of not being as perfect as you.”

I walked away, and neither of them followed me, confirming, in my mind, that what I said was the truth.

The woman in the dream is a real person, although not one that either I or The Guy I Am Currently Dating have regular contact with. She is pretty, extremely intelligent, and has a number of interests and a general self-sufficiency that make her a very attractive person. In the past, The Guy I Am Currently Dating has admitted to having a crush on her, and it has, on numerous occasions, irritated the hell out of me that whenever he discusses her or anything she’s done, it’s in terms of the-brilliant-loveable-person-who-can-do-no-wrong….whereas I often feel that things I do are taken for granted, or simply not understood or appreciated.

This dream confuses me, because I don’t know if it’s about simple jealousy, or about a petulant “You’re not my soulmate, and you don’t understand me or admire me in the way I need” outburst. Lately, I’ve been struggling a little more than usual with my committment to permanently embracing a monogamous lifestyle, particularly after a long conversation with a poly-oriented person with whom I significantly connected in the past, and who does understand the struggle of not being able to find everything you need from others within one person, but not being able to cultivate other relationships for fear of crossing boundaries.

Yet, in my dream, I was not willing to allow The Guy I Am Currently Dating to cultivate a relationship with someone who might be closer to his ideal mate in certain ways, and was upset by his attempts to do that, even on a spiritual or intellectual level. This tells me I am both expecting and offering monogamy in our relationship, even if I fear it is selfish and may make us both less happy.

Or, it was just a dream about something random where my boyfriend pissed me off. As I’ve said, it’s hard to tell which dreams are meaningful, and which are just there to add drama and entertainment to my life. :P