I've been unemployed for three months now. I've come to terms with it. While it's neither fun nor easy, I'm making it through each day... one day at a time. If too many days come at me all at once, I tell them to get in line. That usually does the trick. Usually.
Applying for jobs and waiting for responses is really tough work. When you apply, you have to make your application the best you can and you have to write the cover letter as though this job is your one true love. But you have to do that for ALL the jobs you apply for...
The first job you apply for in a day is okay, but with each subsequent application it's like you're cheating on that first job, then the other, then all the others... until at the end of the day you have told every single job that you love it and every potential employer that you only want that job. None of it is true. It can't be.
"I'll bet you say that to all the nice looking jobs out there," the hot-shot job advertisement said to me.
My smile quickly faded into a trembling frown. My face went red. I knew all along that I had lied to myself, but his flirtation showed me the startling possibility that I had lied to everyone else. I pushed the keyboard away from me and sought solace in my Twitter feed. No more job applications today.Enough. This soul-crushing work of job applications is really for the birds. I'm taking a different approach with the adage of "It's not what you know but who you know" to a different level. I've assessed my personal network, my talents and the "what" I know, and set out with a guide to help connect me with the "who."
I began seeing a career counselor (my guide, as referenced above) to help me make the lemonade from the lemons ruthlessly hurled at me. So far so good. Personality tests and identity development aside, the discussions we've had about my skills and the things I enjoy doing actually have me excited about what kind of work I might be able to do. The guy I'm seeing takes a different approach to placement, which I like very much. I'm still applying for jobs (feeling like a sellout, as described above), but I'm putting more effort into the exercises he gives me so I can develop more of that side of myself. I want to make genuine connections with people, to help people, to feel like I'm making a difference in the work I'm doing. I have hope that I will find more fulfilling work. I do. It's tough to keep that hope in my mind's eye sometimes, but I just try to remember that I'm getting to know myself better than most people and I'm solving problems most people don't even know they have. That feels good because I want to know that this work, this hiccup off the so-called "beaten path" is worthwhile.
I still have a list of concerns. I still get tingles of panic about bills and car repairs and things I need and so forth, but I absorb that, acknowledge it, and plan my response. I feel much better about life when I do that because I'm not stuck in React Mode where all I'm doing is reacting, reacting, reacting to things around me. (It's one way to do things, but it's exhausting and leaves little room for much else.) Taking time to plan my reactions and consider repercussions feels more validating. It also makes me feel way more competent as a human being even when tough stuff is bringing me down. I'm getting better at processing the uncertainty thrown in my path months ago.
So I'm dreaming a little, trying to find a job that I'll be good at *and* enjoy. A novel idea, eh? I thought so too until I realized that some people do have it both ways.