I’ve gotten really into the idea of branding myself lately. No, not like the creepy albino monk in the Da Vinci Code. Like… hashtag Dana Cass problems, only on a grand global scale where I become a household name for witty posthip twentysomethings like myself. My life is an exercise in narcissism, so obviously that’s part of it, but I think I’ve gone into overdrive lately because of the Great Job Search of 2012.
The Great Job Search of 2012 is, to put it bluntly, a demoralizing experience with no apparent purpose but to make me feel like maybe my self-esteem, wallet, and resume would have been better off had I just stuck to the whole musical theatre audition thing. Like… when it comes to singing, dancing, acting, and working low-paying jobs at an hourly wage, I rock. I’m WILDLY competent. But when it comes to finding a full-time, salaried position where I’m taken mildly seriously, I am lost like a Goldfish cracker on a tiger-skin rug.
FRIENDS, NOBODY WILL HIRE ME. I’ve got a degree from a prestigious college and I’ve been working since I was fifteen, but I have no experience. Never mind that I have three times the sales of anyone else working in my store or that I can write better than the majority of the professional world; I’m useless because I have not yet learned how to operate such-and-such program that will take me, a child of the digital age who learned to play Solitaire the same year I learned to read, about five minutes to master.
I could continue in the vein of talking about how awesome I am for approximately the rest of my earthly life, but I should probably return to the point at hand, which is to say that hashtag Dana Cass problems is my tragic attempt to reestablish myself in my personal snowglobe that I just knocked off the shelf of stability into the realm of, you know, people reading my resume and throwing it into the shredder because I can’t operate QuickBooks in Korean while peeing out Dr. Pepper onto my commercial driver’s license.
I just gave up the professional identity I’d been clinging to for two and a half years and I’m trying to find a new one. I then find myself facing a new question: if the identity of “dancer” or “performer” was so toxic to me that I have to entirely relinquish it to become a healthy person, do I really WANT to adopt a new identity that could leave me the same way? Or more succinctly… do I have to BE my career?
I have long prided myself on being a diverse human being. This is another way of saying that I go out of my way not to fit into a mold. I think I’m trying to turn myself into a unique, tractable, almost commodifiable entity so that I can constantly show the world that I AM DANA CASS AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT NOBODY ELSE IS. There are a million dancers, a million retail salespeople, a million writers, etc. etc., but there is only one Dana Cass and even if I can’t get a job because I’m not a trilingual dental hygienist, at least I can cling to some kind of meaningful identity.
Even if I’m clinging to that meaningful identity in a cardboard box somewhere because I thought that entering the working world meant I was going to be, like, successful and entirely ignored the fact that it’s 2012 and there are about six jobs left in the world and they’re all going to Newt Gingrich’s ex-wives.