The constant buzz of uncertainty makes me feel like a brittle flower in the midst of a rumbling hurricane. Like I’m losing one petal after another to the centrifugal force of the unknown. Yet job hunting also entails an inescapable Groundhog Day-like existence, with emails left unanswered and applications seemingly piling up in a forgotten corner of the internet. And this professional paralysis makes me want to scream out loud.
Whenever I step away from the computer and the endless links, forms, and company values-pages, feelings of guilt surge through my body. If I enjoy my time in between search sessions, I feel unfaithful to my job-finding cause. Yet that time is essential. It reenergizes me. It prepares me for the slap-to-the-face-like feeling of all jobs requiring 3+ years of experience. That’s hard to live up to as a recent graduate.
In the routine-less existence of being unemployed, I’ve also started following my daily routines religiously to compensate for the lack of external ones:
1. Wake up at 7 a.m., do some yoga asanas. Make a cup of hot water with lemon and ginger, followed by a big cup of coffee, softened by a double dash of oat-milk. Breakfast follows. Usually something fruity, sweet, and aesthetically pleasing. Deep breath, then dive into the digital sphere with the intention of landing a job.
2. Sit down for a few hours with applications, searching for freelance, full-time, part-time, casual – you name it – gigs, alternated by flat-hunting and general worries about where my life is heading.
3. Feel increasingly claustrophobic, both in the home-space and in my head. Take a walk to clear this feeling; get surprised that it works. Feel grateful that I live near a park.
4. Come back home, refreshed and ready to keep surfing the web. Get distracted by social media. Hop back to job hunting. Feel conflicted about life choices. Text a friend. Throw together a lunch from leftovers. Take a post-food nap and feel Spanish. Wake up feeling guilty for the nap. Make a cup of tea, double-dashed with oat milk.
5. Hop back online and fill in yet another generic job application form for a big company, feeling both hopeless and hopeful about landing the role. Go to town to buy something or just stroll around to distract my mind from the fact that I’m in the exact same boat as I was this morning, and the previous one, and the previous one. Feel beaten down.
6. Come back home with non-essential, feel-good groceries. Make myself a tasty yet half-bothered dinner, chat a bit with my younger sister who arrived home from work. Get inspired from the interaction, sit down to do something creative.
7. Feel even more inspired by the creativity. Convince myself I’ll get those jobs the next day, if I only get up early enough and tackle the day head-first. Fall asleep in high spirits to a podcast discussing life in all its existential glory.
8. Get up around 7 a.m. the next day, stumble out of bed, and onto the yoga mat once more. And around it goes.
The circle of unemployment has yet to drag me into the depths of despair, but it’s a very unique mode of existence. If you make the act of job hunting your purpose for the time being and allow it to fulfil you in the same way any other job had, this time can – if expenses allow you – actually be somewhat enjoyable. Other times, it just sucks.
Due to the high levels of uncertainty and vulnerability involved in such a state of being, it is easy to go from high to low. So, from my own experience, try not to isolate yourself too much. And know that this too shall pass.
Kindness always prevails, so be gentle with yourself and stay connected to the grander picture: This period shall be but a speck of your life, you (hopefully) have a roof over your head and your intrinsic value does not lie in your accomplishments. As I write this, my heart knows this to be true, but my head tells me to stop blabbering on and get back to my applications – so off I shall go; wish me luck – and I’ll do the same to you!