Tag Archives: finding direction

I Stumble, I Get Back Up

22 Jul

There are two things that you must believe when conducting a job search. 1) That you are as brilliant and capable as you profess on your applications and 2) that ultimately, your job hunt will end—your stasis carries with it an expiration date.  These are your steadfast truths, and they keep you from spiraling into insanity. However, at one point they will waver, and if you lose belief in one, your conviction in the other will fail as well.

This week, I declared myself a failure. Granted, perhaps I should take heart in the fact that it took me 25 weeks to get to this point, as opposed to six or 17; maybe I lasted longer than the average post-grad unemployed bear.  For the first time, I had the thought, “But what if I can’t get a job?  What if I don’t?”  My What-If Gremlin has always plagued me with questions like, “What if I don’t get this job?” but never “What if I turn out to be a total loser who doesn’t live up to everyone’s expectations?”

Then the What-Ifs really started to flow.  “What if I don’t get hired because I am under-qualified?  What if, after all this time and all this effort, I still don’t know how to apply to jobs?” Now I was walking down Self-Doubt Drive, and unless I made a turn at Get Your Shit Together Blvd., I was heading toward Self-Hate Street and Pity Party Parkway.

Once you’ve given up, it’s difficult to motivate yourself again.  You’re tired of the whole process: writing cover letters, tweaking resumes, networking, cold calling, online applications, the whole caboodle.  All your efforts result in nothing; you are piece of paper withering one someone’s desk, or an email spamming up a manager’s inbox.  A broken dishwasher gets treated with more urgency than you.  Well let’s be real, who likes the raisin hands that comes from handwashing dishes?  Maybe that’s a bad example.

What has helped me regain a lot of my steam is my ever-increasing desire to pursue the field of education reform. I want to do good.  I want to help so badly! My two literacy students, both of whom are 25, have told me such terrible things about their educational experiences.  Janella had a teacher who told her that her special education diploma was worthless.  Olivia had a teacher tell a vocational class that none of them had any chance of becoming doctors or lawyers, so they’d better pay attention and learn these skills if they wanted any success in life.  If that isn’t enough to get anyone pissed, they’re both high school graduates, but since they were Florida ESE students (Exceptional Student Education), their diplomas were actually worthless (mean bitch was right).  They can’t complete their goals and further their education without a GED, which means that much of their high school experience was a waste.  (That’s disregarding my suspicion that they were placed in ESE simply because they exhibited trouble reading, and not because they’re legitimately disabled.) All together now: WTF?

Thinking about my students, and the education system at large, is what inspires me to keep on keepin’ on.  I can’t just be a bystander when so many children are entering and exiting a system that is in shambles, even if I am having moments of self-doubt.  Whether I believe in myself or not, my resume indicates that I have the capacity to do things besides whine and complain. Yes, I do live in fear that it will take a long time for me to get a job in this field, so long that we could be calling Sarah Palin “Ms. President” instead of “Douchenozzle Supreme.”  (Be cool God, don’t let this happen, and we won’t invent anymore sandwiches that use meat as bread.)  But no matter how long it takes, it’ll take even longer for Janella and Olivia to become a nurse and a teacher, and the wait will ultimately be worth it if it means I can help affect significant change.

The moral is this: find your passion.  Let that be your truth, your principle, and don’t let go of it.  This crazy roller coaster to employment will get vomitously bumpy, and you will cry and question all that you knew about yourself.  Confidence can be shattered like glass, but passion is the hot sexy sports car that will drive you to the best places in life.

Dear Career Fairy, It’s Me, Leslie

20 Jul

Today I had a meeting with a career counselor. It went a little like this:

Me: “I had a path and then decided it was a yucky path so now I have no path, HELP PLEASE!”

Her: “My favorite kind of client!”

This morning, I sat in a small downtown office, uncomfortably staring across the desk at a woman essentially promising to be my fairy godmother of the job word. And as I word vomited about my family, my past and my impossible dreams of job happiness, she stared back at me, oh-so-calmly. Too calmly. How could the central problem of my current existence not phase her? Well, she was partially deaf. But more importantly, she had a process. She had tools.

Because, shocker of shockers, sitting at home catching up on my American television and making cookies is not the ideal way to meditate on job goals. Go figure.

So don’t try to sit cross legged for hours with thumb and forefinger forming that perfect meditation circle over each knee. That only works for Rafiki and the Dali Lama. For us liberal arts folks, a more active meditation is required.

So here it is, right from my career fairy to your rss feed:

Assess yourself.

What are your skills? No, not just those things you’re good at–I’m sure you shoot great beer pong, you are a liberal artist after all–but what are those skills you want to continue to exercise in a professional environment, or skills you want to develop?

What do you value? More to the point, what do you value most in a potential job? Is it creativity, or management responsibilities, or money, or travel, or danger, or flexibility? What are you willing to compromise on in order to get what you really value?

What are your interests and fascinations? I mean, Ryan fascinates us all, but we need something a bit more general to finally move on to exploring and evaluating our options.

As liberal artists, we’ve been well trained in how to research just about anything. I just stink at researching myself. During college, I was so encouraged dip my fingers in every academic pie, it is difficult for me to now see a way to narrow the flavors. I like them all … and I certainly don’t have to be in a monogamous relationship with a single career. But as a first step, critically evaluating myself seems logical enough. Thanks career fairy.