F.I.S.H.

The inspiration for today’s blog title is this Minion I found on Pinterest, and resonates my mood this morning, the end of a week with more lows than highs.

I’m writing from my conservatory, finding it very difficult to be chained to the desk and in need for the positive energy my plants are giving off. I have a Colocasia gigantea (giant elephant ear plant) whom I fondly call Olaf. When I bought him from the nursery he was barely 50cm tall, but has exploded into this giant creature over 2m high. His leaves provide gorgeous shade in the afternoon but also a protective canopy when craving for a tent or cave of sorts, like today. I guess I overlooked the gigantea part in its name back then, and am constantly bewildered at the size of him now. Looking over my shoulder is a Chinese bamboo that is currently flowering, and as my mother always told me, this is an auspicious thing.

Olaf and the gang ©FrogDiva Photography

The uncertainty of the future and the frustration of the present is taking a toll on my nerves. This is the worst possible year and time to be in-between jobs, when the employers themselves are uncertain of their own futures, and are more engrossed in letting people go than seeking to hire. Once again I am in that terrible rat race of submitting applications and holding my breath for the onslaught of rejection mails. Compared to what I encountered three years ago, the trend has worsened and employment ethics have taken a nosedive. I wasn’t paying attention when it suddenly became OK to add a line on the job posting that only the suitable candidates would be notified. Maybe I’m too old-school for this game, but I would very much prefer to receive a formal rejection than to hold my breath indefinitely. It is basic courtesy to the person who went through the trouble to apply in the first place, and for many online applications, there is a tedious format to follow that can take anywhere between 30 – 90 minutes depending on how meticulous they are. That is on top of the required cover letter and CV.

What is different about job hunting this time around? Oh, don’t get me started! Hang on, just freaking wait a minute and let me get a few things off my chest –

1. I discovered that being a linguist who speaks six languages but none of them being French or Arabic is a disadvantage at the moment.

2. If you don’t have an MA or PhD and are looking for work in the communications or research assistant / associate fields you are worth the same as a cockroach. Life experience and published works don’t count for anything.

3. At 53, having travelled all around the globe, attended schools in three different countries and lived in seven, voluntary work doesn’t count, and you have to painstakingly justify the employment gaps – as if motherhood, being a housewife and an expat in a country where you are not allowed to work is not a valid nor valued excuse. I resent this, and I scoff at any employer who takes this against any other person with employment gaps and chose family over employment.

4. Many of the job postings go out of their way to stipulate that they are an equal opportunity employer, but this just isn’t true. Women are welcome, but only if they have proven track records to show, have kept up with the times, and climbed up the corporate ladders with the bare minimum of interruption in career growth.

5. The phrase “proven track record” is offensive, understandable, but nonetheless offensive. How do you prove volunteer work experience? How do you justify your abilities and skills when you did the work on a voluntary basis and hence there will be no record of you every having worked at the organisation?

6. The snobbery that comes with many companies when they are looking for photographers, particularly here in Germany, stopped me dead in my tracks. First of all there is almost nothing available for photographers at the moment due to social distancing and all the cancelled events, and for documentary photographers like myself, even less because all the travelling that is required for such assignment is currently restricted. The worst part is that most companies here want to hire a photographer who has a degree in photography, not a self-taught one, regardless of portfolio or experience.

I take great comfort in the fact that I am not alone in this journey, and that I am in good company with several hundred thousands who have lost their jobs this year due to downsizing, and the economic consequences of COVID-19 measures. The life of a hermit looks more and more appealing all of a sudden, if only there was a way to finance it. But I am the FrogDiva and I happily wallow in the mud from time to time. Falling flat on my face just means I get to take a closer look at the grass and maybe have an unexpected conversation with an ant or a caterpillar while I’m down.

Faith, courage, and a sense of humour will get me through this, and as my beloved Soul Sisters pointed out, I am not unemployed, I am a displaced worker in-between jobs, basically an economic victim of COVID-19. I’ll let that sink in with you for a while…

F.I.S.H.

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