I quit twice without having another job lined up. The first time was to complete my Master’s degree, and the second time was to pursue a different career path. So, in both times, I had a plan. My decisions were thought about thoroughly with every step calculated. I didn’t just wake up saying I’m going to quit to watch movies on Netflix all day, and other people should start paying for my expenses. Even though I was unemployed for a while by choice, it was still a challenging time for me. Despite the difficulties, I’m grateful for the opportunity I was given to learn so much about myself and about others.
What strikes me the most about that period was how I was judged by those who know nothing about me because of my decision. If you don’t have a job, somehow you fail to be a member of the adult world. Without a job, you don’t exist anymore. People respect you less. You’re seen as a liability, a malignant growth in society. Your feelings are disregarded. How dare you complain about anything? Do you know anything at all about responsibility if you don’t work as hard as us? We have bills to pay. What do you know? You’re incomplete without a job. You’re missing something. You’re the person everyone wants to force to see some sense. Why don’t you get any job? Everybody showers you with all sorts of ideas that are so unsuitable? Advice is shoved down your throat as if you cannot be trusted with making your own choices. You do seem to enjoy sitting at home (I was actually told that).
My problem back then wasn’t how others see me as much as that I saw myself through their eyes. It was soul crushing. I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin, so their words made me doubt my decisions at the time and feel bad about myself. It was only later that I realized that others cannot hurt you without your permission. It was as if I always wanted them to be okay with my decisions. During that period, I developed thick skin. Unemployment taught me resilience. It taught me to view my decisions in a different light. How others judge me or see me is about them and not about me. If you’re working toward your goals whatever those goals may be, why bother about what others think? This experience has given me insight to how others view their jobs (me included at first). A job is an identity. You are nobody without your job. Your job is the center of your universe. Losing a job has become the norm nowadays, and if that’s how we feel about unemployment or view the unemployed, we’re in big trouble.
Looking for a job is one of the hardest things I ever had to do. It is soul-crushing and scary. It’s more about handling rejection than finding a job. And you’re met with discrimination. After writing an impeccable cover letter, I was told I’m above 27 years old. Imagine how hard it would be for someone way older? Those who are not aware of those details will always let you feel like you’re not doing enough. There are doors that you didn’t knock. You didn’t find an opportunity because you’re lazy or too picky (why wouldn’t you want to pick something great for yourself?)
If I’m allowed to do some judging of my own, those who judged me wouldn’t survive being rejected numerous times without feeling down. It takes heart and courage to look for a job without being broken. I’ve been there. I’ve survived this. I can’t tell you don’t be scared because I don’t know your whole situation. I just want to tell you to not let the soul-crushing process of looking for a job break you. It’s scary and no one other than you knows how it feels. Life comes with its own set of challenges, so don’t let words of others add unnecessary stress to your journey. Listen carefully to what you want, follow your path, trust your decisions, and you’ll be fine.