Tuesday’s Talk of the Nation on NPR focused on the long-term unemployed whose numbers have swelled during the Great Recession. The guests on the show were inspiring in their perseverance and guarded optimism. Some of the callers, though, were simply heart-breaking. There were tales of college grads and highly qualified professionals that are struggling to make rent and triaging their bills, graduate students that had to drop out and take secretarial positions. Such people are part of the growing number of “downwardly mobile” workers.
Listening while making my deliveries, I thought of my own situation. I have a job with a small, local business where I feel valued, even if I am not using my degree or pursuing my interests. That job supplements my main work s a private tutor. When I tutor I am helping make math accessible and success possible for those hoping a college degree can give them some small advantage.
The show helped me realize that my situation is not uncommon right now. In fact, I’m fortunate to have work that is fulfilling in some ways, even if it is not leading directly to my goals or the life I initially planned out.
And I still have hope. And ambition. So even though others might express disappointment in what I haven’t yet achieved, I remain confident that I have not failed completely. I can measure my success in contemporary terms.
My momentum is greater than zero yet still.