Strength in Times of Doubt: 11 Tips for Tough Times

“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

About Alyson Nemeth

Alyson is a 28-year-old reader, writer, volunteer, and lover of animals. With a background in educational research and social work, she hopes to change the world one step at a time.  For more of Alyson vist her blog, Ally’s Place, or email her at

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  • Thanks for this post…

    I recently made a career switch and things weren’t exactly how I thought it would be (long story!). I was in doubt and emotionally down… I then realized that I couldn’t go back to my old job but what I could do is to live in the present and make full use of the present.

    I started a Gratitude journal jotting down what I’m grateful for… and I started to be more positive and loving my new challenges. Things may not be perfect but considering that it’s an unstable economy, I can only make full use of what I have now 🙂

  • Astha

    Good one….i am currently in a similar situation..lets see 🙂

  • Thank you so much for writing this… I’ve been home from abroad for almost a year, and aside from exhibiting in a few shows, learning some new tricks, and purging my life of the extraneous, I’ve “nothing” to show for it. (“Nothing” being in quotes because it expresses the beliefs of others, not mine.) I may not be working the 9 to 5 in a cubicle or going on my 5th trip to Vegas this year, and money may be very tight, but I know in my heart of hearts that being an independent designer and artist is what I’ve always wanted to be. It’s very hard when the people closest to you are the first to point out how they think you’ve failed. I’m optimistic at heart, but when others try to pierce your armor with doubt sometimes it’s hard to keep faith.

  • bbaccs

    stay strong, i feel you, remember others don’t have to be happy with your life, only you do, as long as your happy on the inside your life is more worth living than anyones who is not happy on the inside but looks great from the outside. I like to think of it this way, if life was just a dream, would it matter what anyone else thinks of your life? In a dream the only thing that matters is how you perceive the world, whats inside-maybe lifes a dream ;0 if not its an empowering though process regardless, i’ll send you love! stay happy, in hundred years nothing will matter and all will be forgotten of you- stay happy!

  • JD

    Thank you for writing this post. I too am experiencing the same ordeal. What I had to realize what is important to me & how I want to help others in my future career. Now, a plan is in place towards working on that goal. Just think of your passion, what drives you, & follow it. Everything happens for a reason; in the end, everything will work out. Take care.

  • Wow thank you very much. Been dealing with similar situations for a while and this really is helping me to get rid of the negativity.

  • Ilene Solomon

    I’m right there with you Alyson!! I’m a 28 year old LMSW and I’m just waiting for the right job to come at the right time 🙂 And until then, I’ll meet you for a walk!

  • Ilene Solomon

    FOLLOW YOUR HEART!! It helps others follow theirs! 🙂

  • CTAngels

    Thank you Ally… I am in same situation after making a career change. It has been ups and downs but alot of learning. Today was a rough day and I found comfort in this – thank you. We will get there sooner or later.. and try to enjoy our journey.

  • Ally

    Thank you!
    Sorry for the late reply.
    I think that is a GREAT idea and I invite you to share some of your ideas on my blog if ever interested 🙂 be well.

  • Ally

    It’s difficult – unbelievably challenging but I hope we can all just support one another. It’s vital and important.
    Just remember – every day we are stronger, regardless of what happens.

  • Ally

    Sounds good, Ilene!!
    Feel free to contact me at any time (sorry for the delayed response)!

  • Ally

    I wish you well, Juan.

  • Ally

    I agree – even though its very difficult to think that way sometimes. Always searching for the whys.
    A good friend of mine who went through similar situation told me that she wished when she was going through it, that someone had told her to ‘accept it’ and those words have stuck with me since – ‘just accept it’
    Acceptance is a tricky thing but I do believe there is value to the statement, as long as we keep moving forward.

  • Ally

    Thanks Stephanie.
    I very much value and thank you for sharing your story. That is incredibly admirable that you have chosen that path.
    Do not let others let you down. Easier said than done but it also boils down to being your own good friend – being the friend that reminds you in those moments that you are good, you are great and your are part of this world.
    You are welcome to contact me at any time and/or share your designs on my blog 🙂

  • G.Sanchez

    Thank you Ally for sharing it with the world, i think that is what we all should do, and get it viral, if we all start little by little only by changing the way we speak, we will certainly change not only our lives.