On Discouraging Times


Time flies when you’re having fun, right? I’m quickly approaching nearly four months of “funemployment,” and most of it has indeed (surprisingly) been fun. I’ve gotten to spend a ton of time with family and friends in Chicago; experiment with random concoctions in the kitchen; travel to new places like the UP, Michigan; Montreal, Quebec; and Boulder, Colorado. Perhaps most importantly of all, I’ve spent significant time thinking about my next career move: from talking to strangers over the phone/coffee to brainstorming with my closest friends, I’ve been able to give some serious thought to my “next steps.”

Overall, I was doing pretty well – until this week. This week, for the first time since I’d quit my job in July, I felt fed up with the job search. I felt frustrated at the endless applications that went unanswered; discouraged by the drawn-out interview processes that thus far have failed to result in a job offer. People around me would tell me, “You have such a great resume; I know you’ll have no problem finding a job” – but the reality is, it hasn’t been that easy.

There have been positives, of course. Despite the fact that many of my applications do go ignored, I’ve been averaging at least either a phone or in-person interview almost every week for the past couple of months – sometimes different rounds for the same company, but I know I’ve been a lot luckier than other job seekers who struggle to even score an interview. I’ve visited downtown Chicago more times in the past few months than I ever did through high school – and usually, before or after my interviews, I’ve been able to meet up with friends in the beautiful city I never got to know.

But this week, I just felt frustrated. It’s definitely difficult not to get my hopes up after later-stage interviews, and my tendency to be optimistic unfortunately makes the fall a bit harder when it happens. I’ve seen my share of rejections over the past few months, but none of them had really bothered me. This week, probably due to a combination of multiple drawn-out interview processes (one of them has literally been ongoing for three months), I just felt so stinking discouraged. I know, cognitively, that there’s no way I’ll be unemployed forever – yet today was definitely a day where I felt like that “unemployed loser” I feared becoming. Luckily for me, most days have not been like today.

As always, my friends came to my rescue. One of the best parts of being unemployed is being able to spend time on Gchat, Slack, and Facebook messenger – chatting with friends as they go through their own workdays, albeit with slower responses from their end, of course. But despite their own stressful workloads, their office drama, their startup woes, their wedding plannings, their recent engagements – despite their own lives, my friends have been there to talk to me, to encourage me, to nudge me back onto the path of positivity. Even when times are tough. Especially when times are tough. So thanks to them, I kept going today. I let myself mope for a few hours, and then picked myself up and kept right going.

The job search finally got to me this week, but luckily for me, it was fleeting. I’m back on my feet and ready to go again, thanks to my awesome, supportive friends. My unemployment experience would have been so different without them – and I know everyone says this, but seriously…I have the best friends in the world.


On Resilience


They say one of the most difficult parts of job searching is the toll it can take on your self esteem. It’s hard to be ignored or rejected when you apply for jobs, and it certainly makes you wonder why you weren’t “good enough” to be chosen.

I’m about a full month into my official job search (even though I’ve been unemployed longer than that, I was on a family vacation to Michigan for part of that time). For someone as impatient as I am, the length of the job search process in today’s market can feel long – even when, in retrospect, it hasn’t really been that long at all. On the one hand, I’m enjoying the flexibility – I’ve been able to spend extended time in Nashville with Chase given my unemployment, since I can apply to jobs from here.

But on the other hand, I’m finally starting to become anxious: what’s taking so “long”?

I’ve of course had my share of ignores and rejections at this point, some that I’ve taken much better than others. My mood has ranged from cheerfully persistent to despondently insecure, although I’m happy to say that I’ve mostly been the former. But more recently, the negativity has indeed started to poke through my optimism and it’s more important than ever that I remember to be resilient.

As an avid believer in the idea that resilience is a key factor for success, I see my current state as an incredible opportunity to test and build my own resilience. Being rejected is hard, of course, but what’s done is done: I need to focus on moving past it, either accepting the rejection and moving on or pressing further to understand why. As a naturally happy-go-lucky person, I have an advantage in framing; I naturally see situations in a positive light and it’s more important than ever that I remember to do so now.

A rejection doesn’t mean I wasn’t good enough. It just means I wasn’t the right fit, and as long as I keep bouncing back, stay persistent, and continue to learn, I’ll make it out all right. Rejection means another chance to regroup and create plans; as a friend recently reminded me, I’m looking for a career, not a job.

It’s a new week and anything can happen – I’m refreshed and ready!