Transitioning periods in life are hard and uncomfortable, usually because they are shaping us and hopefully making us stronger. This doesn’t change the fact that it can feel hopeless and dark to not know what’s next. After spending years in routines, studying all night, stressing over exams, and juggling group projects you would think graduating would be a relief. Don’t get me wrong, it is a relief, but not having a job right away can really crush you with a different kind of constant stress.
As if your own high expectations for yourself aren’t enough, relatives and friends are always asking “how is the job hunt going?” or worse “WHY don’t you have a job yet?”. It’s annoying but you have to remind yourself (and them) that you don’t have much control over the situation. All you can do is apply to jobs and put as much effort into the process as possible and focus on what you DID do, not what you didn’t.
We have our entire lives to work! I still wish I was starting right away, but going a few months without a job will seem like nothing when you’re in your 40s with over 20 years under your belt.
What I am learning is you have to make the most of your situation. What didn’t you have time to do during school that you could be doing now? For me I’ve been traveling, working on a book, writing more articles, putting more effort into the non-profit (The Punk Pit Stop), reading, spending time with my family, exercising, starting this blog, etc. Having free time isn’t the issue, it’s what to YOU do with it. I have a part-time job (thank God) but on my off days I still set an alarm and have a to-do list so I stay productive. You can’t control not having a job, but you can control what you do with this time.
This is also a great time to play close attention to your mental health and practice self-care. After spending most of your life in school, probably stressed out, even if you don’t have a mental illness you still have your own personal mental health to care for. There’s no denying that not having a job can be discouraging and even worsen depression / anxiety for some. It may be the perfect time to try going to therapy, to join a wellness group, to be honest about how you are doing and then address it. If you have been having real issues, they won’t just go away when you get a job because mental illnesses aren’t situational (even if they can get better / worse depending on your situation they are still there). I tweeted about this the other day but self-care isn’t just bubble baths and ice cream; it’s therapy, it’s cutting off toxic people & finding friends who support you, it’s eating the right food for your body, it’s sleeping enough, it’s canceling plans. Self-care should be a lifestyle, not a treat because you deserve to reach your potential everyday.
I am writing this (honestly) discouraged a lot of the time about my current situation but also hopeful about the future. I hope you believe is your abilities and your education, the experiences you have and what you offer as an unique individual. I hope you’re passionate about what you want to do in life and in your career, never suppress that. One of my favorite quotes right now is “I am learning every day to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be to inspire me and not terrify me.”— Tracee Ellis Ross. If an opportunity isn’t there, create it for yourself. Make that quote your mantra, and make this time yours because you might not have a job but you still have this life and I know you can do incredible things with it.