Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How It's Been

So here I am, midway through my first week of unemployment. And it is...weird. It's weird to not have the "work day" to structure the rest of my day around. It's weird to not have any immediate deadline on anything (i.e. you have to go to work at X time or they won't pay you) even though there are things I do "have to do" if I expect to get another job at any point in time. And it's weird to be around the Captain all the time. We work differently when it comes to unemployment. He seems to tend to bank on the most exciting prospects he can find and takes frequent breaks from job hunting to avoid discouragement and preserve his sanity. I, on the other hand, feel guilty if I am not working on my career for a large part of the day. Which doesn't mean I spend the majority of my day working on it, it just means I feel bad if I stop "early."

We basically took Labor Day weekend "off." For me, it was my first few days out of work and for him, well, when no one who has a job is working, no one is there to answer job inquires and look at resumes and cover letters anyway. Plus we just...needed fun. Needed to not think about the grim situation we could find ourselves in. We spent an evening with one of my best friends, went to an outdoor festival, and barbequed with my parents. All the while, I alternated between silently beating myself up for not being proactive on the job front and reminding myself that it was the end of a chapter of my life and I needed to close it before starting a new one.

Look, I know it's a different world than the one I grew up in, where people only worked 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. Now, everyone works all the time, different hours, different schedules, and the earliest bird gets the worm. But the idea that I need to keep up with that pace has given me enough crippling anxiety in the past as to paralyze me and make my job hunt completely ineffective, causing me to clutch in terror at the first job that sounds like it will have me. That is not what I need to do now. That is the kind of mentality that kept me in a career I didn't enjoy for 8 years and now I need to do something different. I need to remind myself that persistence and being responsible enough to put in a good effort is important, and so is not driving myself crazy every minute of every day. That helps no one.

I have learned enough to expand my definition of "working on my career." Am I looking at job listings? Well of course. But I am also taking time to carefully tailor my resume to be attractive to the right kind of employer. I am maintaining my online presence through blogging and twitter and LinkedIn. I am doing a lot of careful research about education as well as employment, taking a careful look at whether the plan I had in place for going to school still works in the situation I find myself in now. Basically every thing I do that has to do with food is something I consider productive, as long as I learn something from it or find a way to share it online with the world at large that may want to hire someone like me.

It isn't easy. I do feel the constant fatigue, even this early in the process, urging me to just take something easy because this search is too hard. But I find myself shouting down that voice with the argument that this is too important not to do right. As I am often fond of telling myself, I am "thirty damn years old" and the time for choosing the wrong-but-easy option is over, if I ever intend to achieve any of the goals I have. I push past the fear that I might get rejected or someone might not help me or I might look stupid, to accept help from places I would have previously been too proud to accept it from. I have a feeling and a hope that this is going to work out well for me. And anyone who's been in my position and has done what I hope to do, your reassuring comments would be much appreciated.

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