45. Adulthood Nightmares: Getting a job

When you are in your 20s, you are constantly being bombarded with advise to take in how lucky you are for being young and carefree. From some angles, it’s true. It’s great to be young and burden-less. My current life is testimony to that. Being at the rip age of 24 means certain liberties, a worry-free lifestyle, and a distinct lack of crying and vomiting mini-me’s running around the house. I’ve been born into the first-world privilege of being a single child in a family with enough means to keep me buoyant through graduate school in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

Don’t for a second think I take these for granted.

Nonetheless, I retain the right to throw a few darts at what I consider to be one of the worst possible rites of passage of adulthood in this first-world wonderland: job hunting.

You think school was tough? Job hunting will make you wish you were in school forever.

With the tanking of the economy came a sharp drop in employment opportunities and a great rise in unpaid, overworked internships. Now-a-days, even those are highly competitive and requiring years of work experience.

This means rolling your resume and cover letters (or CVs and cover notes as is pronounced in British) in more sugar and bullsh*t than ever, so much so that it seems physical impossible for those 2-3 pieces of paper to stand straight in all that glutinous weight.

But alas, it is a necessary part of ensuring your application gets at least a passing, bored glance from HR before it is hurled into the wormhole where your qualifications go to die, without even being dignified with a rejection email. You have to call up the employer yourself, just so they can shoot you down by saying some vague, unconstructive crap that they’ve pulled out of a hat.

And you go on to send out a few dozen more, never to be heard of or seen again.

On and on you tailor, tinker and toil, feeling more and more insignificant as you go.

Until that one day a few months down the road, when your confidence and ego has been reduced to the size of a grain of sand, then it’s time for your nervous break down. Just in time for Christmas.

Thank goodness you have the comforts of friends and ice cream to turn to. You stop the whole charade of endless email attachments and please-hire-me gimmicks. You spend quality time in the company of humans who appreciate you with all your shortcomings. You spend the holidays rediscovering the lightness and wonders of life again, by lying in bed with Netflix or listening to a recommended album. You gain a few pounds from all the necessary therapeutic chocolate and Ben & Jerry’s. You lose a few pounds from vigorous, impossible-to-maintain-levels of exercise and diet. You try out ballroom dancing, and decide that you are way too clumsy for such a fast-paced, on-your-toes-in-heels activity. You go out on a few dates. You take up yoga. You volunteer for your local animal shelter and open a flood of unconditional love and loyalty from those dogs abandoned by society. You heal. You rejuvenate. You slowly rebuild that essential self-confidence.

You are horrifyingly alarmed one morning at the ATM, to discover that your bank account is at an all-new low. You don’t want to ask for any more money from the parents because they are willing to dig into their retirement fund or sell a kidney to support you in your endeavours.

So inevitable, reluctantly, you wade back into the dark, bottomless job pool.

Miraculously, you discover that the new dose of confidence is enough to keep you afloat. Your friends are a constant reminder that you are not worthless, stupid, and unqualified to be a productive human being. You begin to understand that your CV and your cover letter are not your life. So, the silent rejections from HR should not to taken personally. They most definitely should not be taken as denouncements of your worth. Yes, be realistic. But also don’t underestimate yourself. Aim high, and don’t be so afraid of the uncontrollable.

Take it slow. Take it one day at a time. Be consistent. Don’t be afraid to take more creative risks with those cover notes. They are supposed to be a reflection of your personality, not another dull mechanical churn-out of qualifications and achievements. So make a statement. Be different. Be bold. Don’t let deadlines and inspiration slip pass you. Take breaks often and don’t be discouraged.

Like a romantic relationship, it takes time and there is one (several dozen actually) out there that’s right for you.

Happy hunting’ and keep those heads held high!

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