It’s been raining in Boston for the last four days.  Nonstop rain.  Cold rain.  Windy, wet, rain.

Yesterday I woke up and found a turtle in the walkway of my Mass Ave. basement level apartment.  This little walkway floods every time it rains because it collects dead leaves from the tree right above it, and the people who walk by my apartment sometimes like to toss trash into it.

This turtle was huddled up inside its shell, floating in a puddle of dirt and cigarette butts.  It was the picture of misery and despair.  It was clear that he’d been swept down into that puddle against his will; there’s no way a turtle crawled down those steps, and there’s no way he could get out if he tried.  I had two thoughts about the little turtle, in the following order.

1.)   I need to save this poor turtle.

2.)   What an excellent opportunity for a metaphor.

There have been a few times during the past year when I have felt like a turtle that belonged in a nice comfy pond, but was instead trapped in a concrete prison with a disgusting collection of trash.  These depressions have been brought on by being constantly rejected or ignored in my job applications.  I’m a pretty confident guy, and my shell has been hardened by years of job searching, but there’s only so much failure I can take before I start to combust.  I can see the HR representatives crumpling my resumes and tossing them into their waste bins along with their half-finished egg salads.  I imagine them exhaling an annoyed sigh as they delete my emails with a decisive “click” of their ergonomically designed laser mice.  Then I curl up in a little ball on my floor and refuse to be moved—neither physically nor emotionally.

Why am I not good enough for these people?  Is it the way I’ve formatted my resume?  If so, why should that really matter to them?  Who is getting these jobs?  Are these job postings actually real?  And for the ones that are real, are there so many people out there better qualified than me that I can’t even get a call back? What can I do to stretch out my leathery legs and claw my way up out of here?

In my experience, job-related depressions are just like any other slump you might encounter.  If you seem like you want to get back on track, friends and family will help you get there.  I just have to do what that turtle did.  It moved just enough to show me that it wasn’t dead. Then I picked it up and moved it to my backyard, where it resumed its lumbering, deliberate search for a pond.