We originally moved to Berlin with something that can only loosely be called a plan. No jobs, no friends, no place to stay...we were young and dumb and thought it would work out and miraculously IT DID. We found jobs, Ian as a teacher and I wrote expat guides. We made friends. We traveled. We were happy and the city was our oyster.
Then we returned home to Seattle, got married and - most bizarrely - decided to do the whole expat thing AGAIN in Berlin. We never claimed to be reasonable.
I even got cocky and offered advice on moving to Berlin.
And then, in 2013, things began to unravel. We were nearing 3 years in Berlin (not counting the first year), thinking if we were going to step on the baby train we better start and then I got the bad news that my role as Content Editor was all but ending. I was going to be underemployed with a limited visa and poor German skills in Berlin. I am no longer 23. I was freaking out man.
Correction - I AM FREAKING OUT.
|Feeling a little lost out here.|
There is a German word for this (of course there is): eifersüchtig. It is actually a combination of bitterness, resentment and roots from the Hochdeutsch word which means illness or disease which sounds completely accurate.
No matter that I know anyone faced with losing their job feels helpless and worthless, I feel particularly stupid for picking a career you get worse at in tough times. As I feel more depressed, I feel increasingly disinclined to write. But write I must....job applications, cover letters and pitches to publications.
I tried interning, but slowly came to the realization that there was no work following this free labor - at least not for me. The position wasn't all bad, I desperately needed a shake-up in my writing, but I was getting no creditable pieces and simply couldn't figure out how to move on from the grunt work. I frequently felt like the stupidest person in the room, a crown I realize was handed around to all the interns. I started to have light panic attacks to start my day (I say light because they were short struggles with breathing before my rational mind wrestled it's way back into control) and existential questions of WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING pounded through my skull at a much higher frequency than normal. Plus I was getting all this anxiety working for FREE, taking valuable time away from my job search. It wasn't necessarily a surprise as there have been many articles covering the terrible climate of many Berlin internships (The Local's 'If the internship is really bad, walk away' and Avant Hard in Berlin's All the truth about internships being just two examples.) I knew what I was getting into, but desperation can make you do crazy things.
I realize I am not without advantages - I have an education, experience and a crazy supportive and very helpfully employed husband. I know it could be worse. And I put myself in this situation. No one ever asked me to move to Berlin (well, except Ian and it was really a joint plan). In addition to these positives I've got family and friends that have made it wonderfully clear how much they care about me during this crap patch. When I pissily complained on Facebook about rejection, support flooded in (ahhh! That's why we have Facebook). Also, both our parents gave us generous monetary gifts for the holidays that we are using to pay student loans (yea. but seriously - thanks guys.)
And I realize it is not Berlin's fault. But it is no lie that when your personal situation isn't so rosy it is easy to blame it on the location. I'll just re-read my list of favorite things in Berlin while I have some free time.
I told Ian not bother reading this post and he got all concerned. Don't worry, I am not going to jump off our building quite yet. And if you don't take my advice sir, NOTHING TO SEE HERE. Really - don't worry. I am doing you a favor, giving you a break from my constant anxiety and sharing it with strangers. Misery loves company amirite?
If you do take pity and want to hire me, I won't mind. In fact, if you are reading this when it is published - I am in an interview right now. Hopefully, I am killing it. Hopefully, they are realizing they can't operate without me and want to offer me lots of money. Hopefully, very soon, Ian and I will look like this.
In the meantime, I'll be writing...applications, cover letters and pitches. And working on falling back in love with Berlin.
For others feeling the burn of underemployment in Berlin, Avant Hard in Berlin wrote a great summary of sites and services when looking for work in Berlin and I highly recommend Natalye via deutsche, bitte! as a fellow writer and city resource. I also, obviously, offer EasyExpat's Berlin Guide and section on finding work in Berlin. Good luck y'all...
If this post bummed you, it depressed me too. I got happy with my next post - cheer up with 10 Things Berlin has Taught Me