You know that job application I mentioned yesterday? Yeah, turns out I got myself worked up for nothing. I called the person like they asked, and ended up leaving a voicemail with some generic message service. I didn’t have to talk to anyone. I didn’t have to seem calm, confident, and competent. I didn’t have to pace restlessly around the apartment, gesturing with one hand while the other held my phone up to my ear. Instead I left an impression of my spoken words in the care of a soulless machine, hoping that maybe next time I can rise out of the slush pile of applications and actually get somewhere.

So it goes, eh?

But I did notice something interesting. Sure, I spent most of the day thinking about the phone call, working myself up to the point I was almost too nervous to go through with it. Sure, I probably ended up procrastinating a bit despite my best efforts. Sure, leaving a message was a bit anticlimactic. But you know what? It felt so good to actually have something to do, some purpose to fulfill that was outside my normal, day-to-day routine.

I think that relief and rut-breaking effect is tied to why the possibility of an opportunity was also so painful. We humans can get to a point where nearly anything becomes habitual, for good or for ill. In the latter case, it has to be some sort of coping mechanism. It’s like a chronic injury: if you were acutely aware of the pain all the time, 24/7, you’d probably go mad. Instead the body learns to tune out certain stimuli, so you may not notice the issue until something nudges the status quo. You pick up something wrong. Or something makes you consider how less than ideal your job situation is.

Sure, it would be easier to not feel that hope/despair whiplash I talked about yesterday. But it also felt good to have some sort of purpose today. It made me feel alive in a way stocking shelves and coming home too tired to do anything but sit in front of a monitor generally doesn’t.

Am I enjoying this vague feeling of purpose? Of course. But I know that it is fleeting, and will likely fade away, like the other job opportunities I’ve applied to that never panned out. Am I going to fixate on that hope, ensuring the despair is that much more crushing when the offer never comes? Of course not. Or, I’m at least going to try. I’ll instead enjoy what sense of purpose I have at the moment, not thinking about it too hard lest it scurry away or be crushed under the weight of my scrutiny.

But it is good to feel a bit human.