03/16/2012 01:45 EDT | Updated 05/16/2012 05:12 EDT

Pick: Have a Wedding, or Keep Your Job


In this uncertain economy, how does anyone plan for the future? That's the question I've been asking myself for a while now. I've been working on various contracts in different departments of the same company for the past five years, always facing uncertainty. There was a brief time last year when I had a full time role, and I was elated -- until they decided to restructure the role, and I was suddenly without a job.

Suddenly I was looking for another contract to cling to. Luckily, with so much contract experience in so many departments, I was fortunate to find something temporary rather quickly. But what's next? I honestly have no idea; it depends on so many factors.

While I realize I should be lucky to even have a job at all, the uncertainty is what weighs on me constantly. When this contract ends, what will be next? What if my luck runs out and I can't find anything? The thought of unemployment fills me with anxiety, and a fear I feel in my bones. It's unknown territory that I'm not anxious to discover.

As a woman, it feels particularly stressful because you can't plan ahead. No one is going to give you a maternity leave in a contract position -- there would be no job to return to. But how long do you wait before you try for kids? How can you move into a bigger home than your current one when you don't know if you'll have a job in six months? Is taking a vacation wise or irresponsible?

It's impossible to know one way or the other. I was laid off from my last job a few short weeks after I returned from my honeymoon and now when I look back and think about my honeymoon, that's all I think about. I feel like I very nearly dodged a bullet that they didn't decide to restructure my jobs a few weeks beforehand during the wedding.

Despite the support of my husband, I don't like the idea of him having to carry the burden of one income for two people. It makes me feel like a liability instead of an equal. And even though he doesn't feel that way, I do. I often wish I could go back in time when there used to be money and jobs, (was there ever such a time?) It just feels like every year, everywhere there are cutbacks: of employees, of salaries, of funding -- of everything. People used to get excited by the prospect of a raise, and now most people are relieved to just be keeping their jobs, will that feeling ever end?

There's also the matter of skill set. Despite a college and university education, job wise I have a particular set of specific skills, and not much experience outside of that. So if you can't find a job in your field, and start to look outside of it, you don't have the experience. That is the employment paradox: all employers want experience, but you can't get any experience if someone doesn't hire you. I'm sure everyone has experienced this in their professional life at one point or another.

I know bad things happen. We have to keep going, and there are certain things you can never plan; it's a huge weight to carry around -- the uncertainty, the "what if?" How can anyone plan a head when they don't feel secure? Will it always be this way?