Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Dark Side Of The Job Search

"I can't understand, [h]e let go of my hand
And left me here facing the wall
I'd sure like to know, why [h]e did go
But I can't get close to [him] at all"
- "I Don't Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Met)"*** from "Another Side of Bob Dylan"

The job hunt continues, there are bills and rent to pay. Even though I have mixed feelings about Facebook I have been getting back in touch with people and that's been great. I've been writing a lot but not enough on my novel. Still, some writing is better than none at all.

My days are a struggle of too many late nights and late mornings, too much checking of email looking for...something. The doubts and fears crowd around for space.

I read an article yesterday about the difficulty of the job search. The author brought to life the scary feelings that can come up. You start to feel useless and angry. You start to feel outside of society in general. You start to wonder if life is worth living or as his friend put it more succinctly "I'm thinking will it be the neck or wrist?"

I'm not feeling suicidal but I did want to bring it up because these feelings are very real and if you, God forbid, are in a situation where you're looking for a job in this economy for a period of time you may well come up against those feelings. It's better to be aware of these feelings because once you're there it's a scary place to be.

I joined a job hunters group a couple of weeks ago and didn't like the Facilitator. I enjoyed meeting everyone else and one of the members was kind enough to send me a position she'd found. I reviewed the job description and wasn't sure if I fit the qualifications. I wrote her an email and explained this but said I would probably apply anyway. She came back with a response saying she was surprised and I was selling myself short and I was clearly suffering from the effects of lowered self-esteem due to the job search.

I was dying to tell her to go fuck off.

I know she was trying to be helpful and supportive and she was probably right about the lowered self-esteem part but I didn't like having someone who was almost a complete stranger get in my face about it. Instead, I wrote back thanking her for her support and to explaining in detail why 70% of duties for this job is an area of law where I have no experience but I would think about applying.

During job search you roller coaster through your feelings. Some days you're fine and feeling like you're making progress even when it's incremental progress. Some days the search is as I explained to a friend of mine "soul crushing." People don't like to hear such things but it's true. The industry you used to work for, in fact, all industries, seem to be unfeeling, faceless places. We've known for a very long time that there's no loyalty towards employees but it's a shock to experience the ruthlessness of not working in America in times like these.

It makes me want to walk away from my industry altogether but go where? And do what? Everywhere you go it's the same.

I've been doing all things people should say you should do during these times: see and talk to friends regularly, have other interests, keep exposure to the news to a minimum, explore your options, try to get training, be positive, have a plan in place, etc. etc.

These last few days I've learned that even when you're doing all those things you're still going to have these very negative feelings at times. Sometimes they just don't go away. Nobody wants to hear that and nobody wants to think about it.

Ironically, I think I've found some measure of relief by just letting myself feel like shit, to feel angry. And that I may still have them even when I'm doing "what I'm supposed to be doing" to combat these dark feelings. Sometimes the only way out is through and all the damn self-help, pop psychology, artificial routines, pep talks and everything else isn't going to help. Sometimes we have to feel bad for a little while if only so we can relax a little instead of trying to force our emotions into some stupid artificially happy box that's been constructed by everyone.

"And if anybody asks me
'Is it easy to forget?'
I'll say 'It's easily done, you just pick anyone
And pretend that you never have met.'"***


anne said...

MT, you have eloquently put into words some feelings that many of my friends have at this point in their job searches.

The job market sucks in all industries, and what you describe is very common.

Thank your for verbalizing what many of us are feeling. By the grace of God I still have a job, but I never know for how long.

Keep your chin up - you are doing well so far!

Mock Turtle said...

Anne - Thanks for your comments as always and your wonderful support.

I have a job interview tomorrow, not sure if it's a good fit but it's always good to check it out and to practice interview skills.

Glad you still have a job!