Metaphorical vanities? Not really my focus.
My bathroom vanity.
And, knowing me, I may throw a bit of metaphorical mumbo jumbo in at the end. Spoiler alert.
The work I have done for the past few years has been steady, good work. Award-winning work, in fact. Recognized by professional organizations as outstanding.
Normally, that is a great thing. It shows me and the world that my creativity has not dried up; my talents are still lush and in full bloom.
Hold that thought.
I have been doing this work on a contract basis for several years. I enjoy working for myself. Being my own Boss Lady. Makin’ the bacon from home, where I can balance a workload with a life so much better than I ever did in a tiny box in a high-rise working for The Man.
Due to some changes and updates in contract and healthcare law, steady work—as in annual contracts, renewed year after year (read: steady income) are a thing of the past.
This change in my work becomes effective just before the holidays.
Employ (me)!. (Sorry—that last one was my subconscious speaking out of turn. It so likes to rhyme.)
In case you do not know, I am a security freak. I like to know where the money is coming from, that I am being paid on a regular basis, that the roof over my children’s heads will be a consistent one. Maybe this does not make me a security freak, per se. It probably just makes me human. I know very few people who do not like to know their bread is buttered.
(I’m getting to the bathroom vanity bit. Really. Give me a minute.)
In days of yore, I would have panicked, let anxiety keep me awake for hours at night or gone full force at resorting to finding the type of job I used to have—high pressure, high stress, too much travel.
None seem like particularly wise choices at the moment.
Hmph. This wisdom thing sucks sometimes. I mean, what now? When you don’t go for your old favorites, you’re forced to come up with some new ones.
I know so much more now than I used to know. Have been through the fire over the past few years.
And so, my choices are laid out before me but they look unfamiliar.
The other day, I almost went back to the old set of choices. Panicking seemed an extremely good option at the time.
You know what I did to stop myself?
(Of course you don’t. I may appreciate predictability in income but I do not appreciate it in myself.)
I organized my bathroom vanity.
Are you sensing my deep stores of wisdom now?
I thought so.
Before you go huffing off, I am not speaking nonsense. Even though I am.
When faced with things that seem out of my control, being overwhelmed is an easy response. A natural response. Incredibly predictable and human.
Having reached out to many in my network and done all the appropriate things I could do that day, I was spinning my mental wheels. Finding it hard to focus and concentrate.
In medical terms, freaking out.
(What are you talking about? I’m sure that’s a medical term. Somewhere. In a land where unicorns roam wild.)
I did what any sane person does when confronted with an unwieldy situation in which waiting plays a key role.
I controlled what I could.
At the moment, my locus of control seemed limited to my bathroom vanity, given that I have accepted the long list of things I Am Not In Control Of. Which include getting my dog to obey the “stay” command for more than five seconds straight, making a perfect roux and taming my hair on humid days.
My bathroom vanity overflowed with sundries.
I realized, as I tackled it, how tough the past few years had been.
I felt a compassion for myself I had not felt in a long while.
What kind of stress must you be under when you end up with eight containers of deodorant? Ten hairbrushes? Enough feminine protection that if I don’t hit menopause until I’m 75, I think I’m still covered?
Kind of hellish stress, I think. (And yes, I’m sure “hellish stress” is on a clinical spectrum somewhere.)
I was so focused, so in survival mode, so trying to make it ok for my kids, that I went into autopilot.
I righted what I could. Took stock of my stockpiles. Felt a sense of accomplishment when done. Relished being able to open and shut drawers without an avalanche of any sort occurring.
It was about all I could control. All I could make right in the moment.
It was the one vanity I may be able to keep.
The rest have mellowed, as I realize that my employability is not always about the quality of my work. Sometimes the world just changes and I’m the unlucky recipient on the receiving end of a less than welcome change. Awards won are great and they will help. But they are no guarantee of a mortgage payment or food on the table.
Perhaps a bonfire of the vanities is in order.
But it will not include the one in my bathroom. It’s finally shipshape.
As I hope life will be at some point soon.