David Benfell

David Benfell
Sebastopol, California, USA
April 29
David Benfell holds a M.A. in Speech Communication from CSU East Bay, has studied at California Institute of Integral Studies, and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Human Sciences at Saybrook.


FEBRUARY 29, 2012 3:23PM

I need to die

Rate: 7 Flag

Please don’t tell me to call suicide prevention. That is not a tangible solution to my problems.

Please don’t tell me to send out yet thousands more copies of my resume. I’ve done that. Over and over and over again.

Please don’t tell me to post my resume on jobhunting sites. I’ve done that too.

Please don’t tell me to network. As a jobhunting resource, my network has been worthless for well over ten years. With my background, I am hypersensitive to being where I am not wanted.

Please don’t tell me to accept yet another shit job. After being whipped on the side of the road when I was about four years old and told not to get back in the car by my father; after being abused by my father throughout my childhood; after constantly being taunted as “gay” and a “fag” throughout my childhood not because I am gay (I’m straight), but because I have no interest in sports (I have lived much of what C. J. Pascoe describes[1]); after the overwhelmingly abusive work experiences I have endured, I need to feel valued rather than infinitely replaceable.

Please don’t tell me I should go back to school. I did that—in 2003. I now have a B.A. and a M.A. and I am enrolled in a Ph.D. program.

BA Mass Communication

MA Speech Communication

Please don’t tell me that I should have pursued a “relevant” degree with “useful” skills. I have seen how employers claim to want skills but export the jobs.[2] Over and over again. And I have gained the credentials to teach the skills employers claim they want.[3]

Please don’t tell me I should become an independent contractor and a consultant. I despise marketing, and the thought of marketing myself makes me positively ill. The same applies to considering two years as “long term employment,” which means in essence that I should be continuously prostituting myself (and I apologize for my phrasing to sex workers who find their work gratifying; I don’t know how they do it).

Please don’t tell me that life is worth living. I don’t need to hear about how my life is valuable for you, but how I can once, even once, have a fair chance at a decent life and at being loved by someone other than by my mother and by my cat. I need a credible jobhunting process. I need my human rights to be upheld. I need justice. I need it now.

I have reached a point where my only rational option is death. Because even if I finish my Ph.D.—and there is every reason to expect that I could—I will only be saddled with student loan debt and no job to pay it off with. I do not see a life worth living.

From Bolinas Ridge at dusk, January 26, 2012

All I see is darkness in a world that bails out bankers but leaves the unemployed to twist in the wind, in a world that reduces justice to law and converts prisons to opportunities for crony capitalism, in a world that has unlimited money for war but less and less for education, in a world where corporate money is free speech but my speech is terrorism. Yes, I occasionally can capture a piece of the natural beauty that really isn’t very far away. But where I have no money to drive, I am surrounded by a desolate monoculture of vineyards owned by rich people trying to get richer while I am simply stuck.

I have hung on this long in the hope my life would get better. Apparently the definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results” should properly be attributed to Narcotics Anonymous.[4] Quite clearly, this is what I have been doing.

I need to die.

  1. [1] C. J. Pascoe, Dude, You’re A Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School (Berkeley: University of California at Berkeley, 2007).
  2. [2] Ryan Chittum, “The ‘Can’t Find Workers’ Meme,” Columbia Journalism Review, February 21, 2012, http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/the_cant_find_workers_meme.php
  3. [3] Betsy Stevens, “What communication skills do employers want? Silicon valley recruiters respond,” AllBusiness.com, February 23, 2005, http://www.allbusiness.com/sector-56-administrative-support/administrative/1189004-1.html; Leslie Stevens-Huffman, “Wanted: Problem-Solving and Communications Skills,” Dice.com, February 23, 2011, http://resources.dice.com/2011/12/16/problem-solving-hiring/
  4. [4] “Narcotics Anonymous,” January 18, 2012, http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Narcotics_Anonymous

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I'm sorry you can't find anything positive to live for.
You most certainly don't need to die. You have an eye for justice and beauty and you can do so much to make life better for yourself and others. You say your mother loves you-- what would she do?
You are reaching out here for a reason. Keep writing and maybe you can branch out as a writer while you wait for a job.

I agree life if sometimes too hard but I urge you to keep fighting.
Please give yourself more time.
AA or NA ... either way ... "don't leave five minutes before the miracle", please.

I empathize with your plight, having seen and heard firsthand similar stories within my circle of friends, within my own family, within the walls of my own home. You also articulate quite clearly that it's not that you're doing something wrong, though this is the common assumption of those with a job, a retirement fund, a hopeful future. There is something clearly amoral stalking our culture when the institutions that were bailed out (on our backs) are doing so well, yet refuse reciprocity to those who saved them. In a world of "too big too fail" it seems the average hard working person who wants simply a job, a chance, who dares not dream about the future beyond the next week because hope has been beaten down, isn't considered a member of this class. And so I often wonder, as you likely do too, where is the outrage?
Yours is a story that is raw, real, and gut wrenching, and tragically, unjustly, all too familiar for so many--except for those with the real power but lack of will to do anything about it.
Brave writing; only the best to you.
I have been in those dark places and often visit still, although it's getting better. I am fortunate, after losing it all, I have come back with a greater appreciation for the small things in life that I took for granted. I won't tell you what you need to do, only you know that. But I can hope that you find happiness.
There's a clue to some bit of hope in what you wrote--you said you have earned the skills to TEACH what employers say they want. While fulltime positions can take a while to manifest, there are tons of adjunct instructor positions that would help you bridge the gap until fulltime work comes through. I've found college level teaching to be a dream job in lots of ways--MUCH more independence than any job I've ever had (no supervisor breathing down my neck), a great schedule that gives me space to think and breathe, some frustration with unambitious and incurious students, but that's undone by the handful who do take their studies seriously.
I've taken the crap jobs, worked for bosses who treated me poorly, sold my soul for a salary or taken a job with more pleasant duties that didn't pay enough to keep us alive. This is the job I want to keep until I retire, even though I've made more money in other jobs.
I don't mean for a second to deny the validity of your post and how bad you're feeling. There's lots to bring a person down and make things feel hopeless.

But I hope (and I think you know deep down--or you wouldn't have reached out to others this way)--that there is a spark of possibility in your mind. Things can turn around. And for you I sincerely hope they do really soon.
The only people finding college or university-level teaching jobs right now are those who already have their Ph.D. That's actually what I've been looking for. But all I see are funding cuts in higher education.