The Doldrums

In older times, back when it was still being discovered and explored, the world seemed so much larger and full of mystery, and there were many dangers. Gradually, advances in technology erased the dangers for us. One of these areas of advancement was in our seafaring methods. While today, great ocean liners can battle their way through the roughest of seas, determine their exact location with the touch of a button, and even cut their way through massive ice floes at our global poles, there was a time when ships were not so unsinkable. Made of mere wood, and crewed by men who toiled day after day just to survive the cruel and changeable moods of the sea, these ships were not powered by great oil-guzzling engines. They had to rely on the wind and currents to get them where they needed to go.

There is an area near the equator, known now as the Inter-tropical Convergence Zone, where winds from the northern and southern hemispheres meet. This band that circles the Earth can often be seen as a series of thunderstorms, forming a waving line near or on the equator. The meeting of wind systems causes violent storms much of the time, but sometimes things calm down. The winds die out, the currents vanish, and all is calm, with flat sea as far as the eye can see. And in the olden days, this calm was a sailor’s worst nightmare. They called it the Doldrums.

Now you might think that with all the trials and tribulations of a sailor’s life, surely calm seas and good weather must be a welcome respite. But this was not the case. The Doldrums are a place of absolutely no wind. No current. The sea is dead there. And when you’re travelling in a boat that relies on wind or ocean current to move, and it is far to large to row (or get out and push), flat seas mean that you are stranded. And you can never tell when the weather might change. It might be only calm for a few hours, but sometimes it could last weeks, or even months. Sailors would starve, their supplies running out while they were trapped in limbo.

Now, I’m very sorry for such a long setup, but I wanted to give those of you who did not know about the Doldrums some context for this new stage in my life—my own Doldrums.

For the past month, I have been looking for a job. So far, I have had no luck. If I want to go out and do things, I need money to do so. But I can’t, because I don’t have a job. I need money for school, and I need money to do the things I want to do. I’d been hoping to live in Toronto this summer, but I couldn’t find a job there in time, so I had to move back home. This in and of itself is not so bad, but it has not helped me to feel like I’m moving ahead in my life—instead, it’s like I’ve taken a giant step backward, losing everything I’ve worked for in the past year.

It’s depressing, being stuck in one place, unable to move forward. The days grow monotonous and dull, and with every résumé I hand out, the feeling of utter hopelessness slowly settles its suffocating weight over my shoulders, pressing down on me. The pressure to find a job from my parents isn’t helping either. They keep telling me I’m not doing enough, but I don’t know what else to do. I’ve handed résumés to every business within walking and bussing distance of my house. I’ve filled out online job applications for everywhere else, and by this point I’m almost completely out of options, but still no one has called me back for an interview. I know my résumé is good, so that can’t be the issue here. I’ve been polite and friendly, and always asked to speak to the manager. It’s better to go straight to the head honcho—you’re more likely to be hired that way. Or at least, that’s what they tell me, though now I’m beginning to doubt that very much.

It’s hard to feel hope when you’re stuck. When you can’t move forward, and can’t move on to the next important thing in your life. It’s frustrating, and you can even feel trapped in a place that was once your own. So this post goes out to all of you who are in the Doldrums as well. We must have hope. The job market is shaky, but we have to keep believing that things will pick up. We will get that call back for an interview, and we will ace it. We’ll find our summer jobs and work hard. The winds will change. I’m sure of it.

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