When you haven’t been able to break into the work force yet, you can feel rather defeated. It doesn’t help that most of your friends and peers are employed with six figure salaries coming right out of college. Talk about hit the ground running. There have been days when I have felt pretty depressed about my lack of employment. Even though it has only been three months since graduation, the looming sense of failure and rejection can even bring the brightest of spirits to its knees.
Things seemed to work out in their own haphazard way. Originally, I had been set to move in with my boyfriend some time in June — but these plans were offset when I got a last minute internship for the summer (and this made me repack all my things in one day to separate some summer necessities). I really enjoyed my internship, and learned a lot about workplace drama and relationship, as well as design. Now, however, I am back where I started in terms of my job search.
As some of you may already know, I really struggled with my decision to move in with my boyfriend without already have secured a job. I ended up crying one night in a good friend’s car — it was the accumulation of stress from work, finishing projects, applying to a confusing start-up, and my internal feminist fighting my femininity. My friend held my hand in a comforting way, and told me I must be optimistic. I couldn’t let any of this get me down, she told me. I would get a job! I just have to be optimistic! Optimistic! Optimistic! I laughed at the time, through my tears, but what she said was true. You really must be optimistic as you are job hunting — otherwise you let the ceaseless waves of rejection wear you down emotionally and mentally.
But all of this isn’t really news. Most of us have no doubt heard all sorts of methods, books, and articles about how a positive outlook is necessary to get everything you want ever (slight exaggeration, but you know what I mean). I know I must be optimistic — but sometimes I really think I need to feel down. Weird as it sounds, forced optimism feels worse sometimes than pessimism. Not always, of course, but sometimes.
For one, (and this might just be me,) I’ve gotten a little sick of people thinking me, “You can do it!” in regards to getting a job. I know these people are only trying to buff up my spirits and optimism, but I often feel it is empty compliments. If I can do it, why haven’t I? The job market certainly isn’t very easy to break into, especially if you have just graduated with an English degree.
Secondly, if I’m blindly optimistic, I won’t be able to recognize what I can do to improve myself. For instance, I am attempting in my new-found home and freedom to learn how to draw (something I have always wanted, always), learn design, write again, exercise… Maybe I’m describing optimism, but it feels like a more tangible and real optimism here than forcing myself to think I can do it! Yeah! After all, being too optimistic can be bad for your health and your business.
That being said, I really do need to be more optimistic on some level. In particular, I need to be positive and motivate myself to apply to things again. But more than just thinking of course I’ll get this job, I think I need to learn to accept rejection and allow myself to grow from failure. I certainly learned in the past few months how to write a better resume. And I’m learning how to independently learn on my own, without any deadlines.
I may not have Optimism! Optimism! Optimism! but I’m trying my best to be positive — or at least make something positive out of this time of unemployment. If I can get myself to do something (and I have made small steps in this direction), I feel much happier. My worst days are when I feel like I’ve done nothing productive. But I found that tiny things like cooking dinner, cleaning up, writing a blog post, or sketching for an hour have increased my happiness and my optimism. So if you’re struggling like me in this economy, I suggest not trying to force yourself to be Optimistic! but rather do something that produces a genuine and real dose of positivity.