Job Search Roller Coaster

10 Jul

Sadly, it took me a while to get back here and write something, but now there is lots to report on! I’ve noticed so far that some days and weeks are exciting and encouraging and other days and weeks (and months…) are just miserable. It’s this constant roller coaster of getting my hopes up, even when I remind myself to not get my hopes up, and then kind of crashing and feeling awful and frustrated. Last week was definitely a high point on the job search roller coaster. I had three interviews, two great networking meetings, and heard about a potential job opening with an organization that I used to intern with and would love to work for. I felt like I had some good momentum going and might actually have some choices to make in the next few weeks.

Although the downturn hasn’t fully happened yet, I felt really low this weekend when connecting with some old friends and trying to explain my job search. It’s hard to communicate effectively to people how hard I am working to find a job and how difficult it is to get a job, especially in the non-profit and public policy fields. When I tell people that I’m looking for a job, I don’t know how to explain that I spend every day working on applications, searching for job openings, calling and emailing people, going to networking meetings, and getting ready for interviews.

I think it all comes down to this sense of shame about not having a job and not having a clear path. Up until this point in my life I’ve always  known what was coming next and I’ve always excelled by the traditional standards of achievement (graduating high school, getting into a good college, getting good grades, etc. ). Right now I’m really grappling with deviating from the path I’ve been on, or told I could get on, and trying to sit with the uncertainty of my life right now. I’m still self-conscious about being unemployed and sometimes don’t want to talk about it, so I end up making it worse for myself by not telling people that finding a job, is a full-time job if you’re serious about it.

This is exactly what happened last weekend while I was hanging out with friends I hadn’t seen in four years who either had a job or were close to getting one. I felt so bad about not having found a job yet and didn’t want to appear lazy or unmotivated that I barely said anything about all the interviews I’ve had, all the interesting people I’ve met, and the fellowship that I’m currently a finalist for. The effect was that my friends didn’t learn much about where I am in my life and I felt even more ashamed about my situation.

Things could obviously be quite a bit harder for me, so I want to check myself before I continue to White Whine here, but I do think that in a competitive capitalist society with a stagnant job market, being unemployed is seriously looked down on and unemployed people have to confront all kinds of negative stereotypes about themselves, whether those stereotypes come from the people around them or themselves. I hope that people who are fortunate enough to have found or kept their jobs can understand that  most people are not unemployed because of their own shortcomings. Even more than that, I hope that people like myself, who don’t have a job, can find a way to be confidant and proud of their accomplishments rather than give in to the feelings of shame and disappointment that society projects onto us and that we internalize.



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