“We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” ~Unknown
There is no question that we are living in a time of doubt, fear, uncertainty, and economic frustration. Only recently have I experienced this doubt on a gut level—the kind that can punch hard and make you sick.
I am writing because I want this to change, but also because I know other people are dealing with this same thing.
After spending nine years in school, four degrees later, I found myself unemployed and overqualified. My passion for social work and education loomed far in the distance as employment prospects appeared to be minimal.
At times, it felt like the news reports were telling me that there was no future for me.
That is an extreme perception, but at the time, I believed it.
During interviews, I was either under-qualified or overqualified. Time after time, when people and family asked me what I was doing, I would respond, “Looking for a job,” only to have them look at me with pity and say, “Good luck; it’s so hard out there.”
Every time, it hurt more than the first.
In addition to this lovely transition, my grandmother died rather suddenly.
She was the rock of my youth and a source of timeless happiness. For her to go and not ever see me as something more than a permanent student, living from one retail job to another, ate away at me and ultimately led to a depressed state.
She loved me greatly and thought the world of me, but I feared that this label of being “unemployed” took over and disqualified any belief or hope she ever had in me.
After a month or so of this thinking pattern, I was tired and worn out. My bones ached, I wasn’t eating, and I was living in a shell.
After one evening filled with a large-scale panic attack and concerned friends, I realized that I needed to change how I thought for my own well-being, and so I could make the world a better place for everyone.
Negativity is contagious and, boy, had I been a recipient of it.
My thoughts did not affect just me, but other people too. By walking around and regurgitating, “There are no jobs out there,” and “Good luck finding a job,” I was hurting others.
If these generic statements hurt me, why would I say them to other people?
When I craved love and hope from the external world, I realized that I could be hope and love for myself—and I could share it with others, creating the kind of world I wanted to experience.
Here are some guidelines I’ve been following to be more aware of my attitude and thoughts. These may help you change your thinking, as well:
1. Keep trying. If you keep trying and don’t give up, you will get stronger and closer to where you’re headed.
2. Exercise gratitude. You are wanted. You are loved. Amidst this underlying fear of the future, I have wonderful things in my life. I am 100% sure you do, too.
3. Challenge and change your dialogue. “Good luck with job-hunting; there are no jobs out there now,” does no one any good. Lets change the statement to: “Good luck! I am sure you will find a good job that is right for you.” Not so hard, right?
4. Be nice to yourself. Why get caught up criticizing your past decisions, what you did and didn’t do? It doesn’t do you any good. You did what you could, and you’ll continue doing your best.
5. Let those ideals go. “It has been two months since you’ve been out of school. Why don’t you have a job?” If you let these kinds of questions get to you, it will be much more difficult to accept what is and be comfortable in the now.
6. Celebrate your accomplishments. Acknowledge and enjoy everything you have done. Maybe you didn’t get the job, but you’ve achieved other things, and you will get another.
7. Be mindful of what you say to those around you. When we repeat information simply because everyone else says it, we lose sight of what is true. We also lose sight of how our words affect others.
8. Take a walk. Get some air and give yourself permission to breathe. It might seem like something simple, but when you are wrapped up in the anxiety of the day, it helps to take a time out. What is happening beyond the laptop and the fear?
9. Get excited. Yes! Who and what do you want to be? Focus on that. The future’s open—you’ll get there!
10. Remember you’re doing okay. Maybe you didn’t hear back from anywhere, but tomorrow is a new day. Things may not be amazing today, but regardless, you’re okay.
11. Resist the labels. “Overqualified,” “under-qualified,” and “unemployed” are labels that you don’t need. They do not have to define you. Considering Tip #3, let’s change how we look at this: You are qualified and you have many assets that you will contribute to a future employer.
Let’s change the negativity and doubt—and do it today. It starts with you and me. The newspapers may not be hopeful, but we can be, for ourselves, and each other.
Photo by h.koppdelaney