Before I came to Australia, I painted a beautiful picture in my head, of me working in a respectable company and earning sufficient income to send money home to pay off my debts and support my family. For some reasons, I thought finding a job would be easy.
In my first week here, someone told me to beware of discrimination in workplace, especially because I am Asian. Naively, I laughed and brushed it off, thinking it was their own prejudice against the society. Now I am wondering if they were right…
My job search experience has been one of a crazy ride. In my first month, I almost got a job at a restaurant but my pride kicked in and I denied the job because the pay was too low. Then, I spent three hours doing a job trial at a cafe, thinking that this could be it, only to be informed later that they found someone with more suitable qualifications. Unwavered, I kept sending out emails with my resume attached, hoping to hear something from someone. I put up with hours of filling out forms that basically ask for the same information already provided in my resume. And nothing but”We regret to inform you that we will not take your application any further…”, without so much of explanation why, came back to me.
In my last post, I mentioned about a waitress job at a Thai restaurant. It also fell through. I did go in to work for two days, quickly learning the menu and the way they took order; floating between tables, serving food and taking away dishes. Everyone was nice to me. The only issue I had was that they took advantage of the casual staff members, who worked for five to six hours everyday but were paid below a minimum standard. You may think I am a fool for not enduring like others do; but I simply could not tolerate the practise, where my value is at stake.
So I had to start from scratch again. More emails. More rejection letters. What is more disheartening is that even chain companies, like supermarket or hardware store, turned me down. It is demoralising to be told, “We are not looking for senior staff, only junior.” Whether I am under or overqualified, the message is blatantly clear – there is not a place for me. Not yet anyway.
I can understand from the employers’ point of view why they are hesitant to hire me. I have only been in the country for less than three months. I have no relevant local experiences. And I am on a temporary partner visa. There is no guarantee that I am a good person or that I will stay committed to them long term.
At times like this, I am thinking of my sister’s word before I departed to Australia, “This is the way you chose. This is your path now. Don’t worry about us here.” What else can I do but keep chipping away at this thick wall? I have to swallow my pride, grit my teeth and keep putting myself out there.
Sometimes, though, I run into an existential and identity crisis. Stripped away from my roots and connection, I am at a loss. The things I once thought was my passion seem irrelevant. I am not even sure what I like to do or what I want with my life. It is selfish of me to think this thought since we need another income, whatever job it may be. But in the deeper part of my romantic heart, I am afraid of living to just get by, of falling into a status quo.
Joel’s squash team member, who is from South Africa, told me that when he first arrived in Australia, it took him eight months to get a job. I do not wish to have to wait this long, but at least someone had already gone on before me. It was comforting to know that I am not alone in this plight. He is now working at a government agency in a respectable role.
When I feel crushed from rejection, I read and I cook. This explains why there are plenty of updates on my Goodreads reading progress and also lots of food photos and videos on my Facebook profile. These activities give me solace as I meditate on my life’s problems and personal struggles. Reading puts me in someone’s world and gives me a different perspective towards my circumstance. I am currently reading Elizabet Bard’s “Lunch in Paris: a Love Story with Recipes.” She is an American, who married a Frenchman and left her home country to make a new home in France. Like me, she asked questions about life, purpose and passion while trying to make sense of the new culture and fitting in. And like her, I go to food for comfort. Cooking purely gives me something to have control over when my life spins out of balance. I can add more spices if I want to in my meatball or reduce the amount of sugar in my cookies. Making food that is whole and delicious, and being able to feed people makes me happy. It reminds me that there is more to life. I am a better person because of it.
What now? A friend from church, who is from Ghana, told me to work towards something. With no acknowledged qualifications, the opportunities are limited here in Australia. So get whatever job I can find (trust me, I am praying for one), save enough money for education and chase my dream…
The question, though, is what is it, this dream?