Tag Archives: getting out of a rut

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.

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One Way to Do It

15 Jun

I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.

-Lloyd Dobler, Say Anything 1989

Sometimes it’s just easier to figure out what you don’t like than it is to figure out what you do.

So go ahead and pull a Dobler–what don’t you want you to do or be? For example, I’m not fond of neo-Nazis, so I’m fairly certain that I’m not going to pursue that as a career path (I don’t know though, I hear they have great dental).  I also don’t like dogs; let’s be real, they’re not dogs, but mini-dwarf bears in disguise.  The fact that I was bitten as a child may also play into this dislike, I can’t really say.  However, I can say that I shall never be a dog groomer.  Finally, I don’t think I’ll become a lawyer–everyone in the profession has advised me against it, and I’m not going to pay $150 grand to hate something.  I’d rather pay $1.50 for a King Size Snickers and then hate myself for my lack of self restraint.

See?  In 30 seconds, I’ve eliminated three out of a possible gazillion professions.  I can also venture forth into the real world and discover my passions through trial and error.  What have I really got to lose? Nothing, I have nothing, because I am unemployed and broke, and as a recent grad, I also know nothing about the real world, which is all the more reason to just  dive right in to the workforce.  And readers, if you’ve yet to put on real shoes today, or if The View is within earshot, then this applies to you too.  Sure, your first job may not be what you dreamed of, but you’ll gain valuable hands-on experience as well as witness other various career options available.  So jump on in, the water’s really kind of just okay fine!

Put down the Cheetos, and put on some pants: How to get out of a rut

23 Mar

Freedom.

No matter how big or small they are, having commitments gives “liberal artists” a sense of meaning and accomplishment.  At college, we’re busy with work, papers, clubs, etc.  That all mattered to us, and in turn made us matter to others.  As graduation loomed, we reacted with glee as we contemplated a future free of all-nighters at the library and late shifts in the student union.  “Oh squeee! No more! ZOMG yaaaaaay!”  we thought while we had a dance party to the 32 second chorus of George Michael’s Freedom (yes, just the chorus, because I suspect the rest of the song is about his homosexuality and NOT freedom).

Without those occasionally pesky obligations we’re used to, the steady routine that you probably donned real, non-stretchy pants for every morning gets cast into a nebulous galaxy of cheetos and Hulu.com.  However satiating it may be, this holds a rather sobering experience; for 14 years of our academic lives, we’ve been accountable to others or else faced the repercussions.  Now, no one cares if we continue to messily munch and watch online tv except Chester Cheetah and the ad execs at Hulu.   Sad face, seriously.

To put it bluntly, how do you make your life matter again?  Or will you forever be watching Arrested Development online until you die from cheese dust inhalation?

HARK! THERE IS A SOLUTION: hold yourself accountable.  Only you can get yourself out a rut, so it’s time to act like grown-up and implement habits that will also carry over into your career.  Start by putting on some friggin’ pants, and not the kind with a drawstring.  Looking the part of someone who’s got their shit together will allow you to grab life by its testicles, hard. Begin each day with at least one goal you’re going to accomplish, and then do it.  These tasks don’t have to come anywhere near the level of commitments we had in school, but on the flipside, don’t make it an obligation to watch 3 hours of tv.  Tell yourself you’re going to read a new book, go to the gym, reorganize your closet, apply to a job, volunteer at the nursing home, literally ANYTHING.

By giving yourself goals and then adhering to them, you’re not only regaining that sense of meaning and routine, you’ll become an asset in the office.  You’ll know how to work towards the company mission, and what employer wouldn’t love that?