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What I've learned in a month of looking for work
The power of reconnecting — with others and myself
For several years, I’ve miserably failed at keeping a regular meditation practice. (This isn't a New-Agey post, I promise!) A few days after I decided to resign from my full-time job, I woke up crying in the middle of the night. I could hear my heart thumping against my ribcage. I could feel a tightness inside my chest, as if a hand were squeezing my organs and saying, “What the hell have you done?”
I am a widowed mother and, for nearly six years, I’ve handled the finances at home judiciously, making sure to provide for my child and myself even if it meant working more than one job — and working late at night and weekends to fulfill the demands of the jobs I’ve had. I have absolutely no regrets about my resignation, though adapting to having no biweekly paychecks coming in has been challenging, to say the least. I did not receive any severance pay from my former employer. My health coverage expired six days after my last day at work. (Thankfully, I have a part-time job that offers benefits.)
I installed the Insight Timer app* on my phone and, after scrolling through the offerings, I settled on Self-Confidence Powerful Affirmations, 4 minutes and 33 seconds of exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve listened to it every day since my overnight brush with anxiety and I’ve found peace in repeating to myself that my needs matter, that I’m important, and that it’s OK to put myself first.
Of course, meditation and inner-peace don’t put food on the table, so I’ve been hard at work looking for work. I’ve benefited from suggestions and support from the amazing network I’ve built in my 25 years in the United States, but I’ll tell you: Discipline is Requirement No. 1 to getting things done. Then comes confidence — in yourself, the skills you’ve acquired and the talent(s) you have. A healthy dose of humility also helps to help digest rejection.
There are, of course, practical things you can do. This thread by my friends at URL Media offers resources for mental health support and the option to book a free 30-minute session with their excellent career coaches. It’s also worth checking out this newsletter on how to prepare financially for a layoff or career transition. (And while you’re at it, make sure to sign up for URL’s Career Newsletter.)
Rebecca Aguilar, past president of the Society of Professional Journalists, publishes a monthly list of jobs in news organizations across the U.S. Before you set out to apply for anything, though, consider enlisting a friend who is good with words to look over your résumé and cover letters — yes, plural, because you’re for sure going to write more than one, or at least you should. I also suggest refining your LinkedIn profile, which serves as a résumé these days. (Here’s mine; suggestions are welcome.)
Take walks to move your body. Make time to meet friends or invite them over and avoid paying $7 for a cup of coffee. Listen to music. Dance. Laugh. Cry. Love. Practice gratitude. Take control of your narrative; I work every day at framing this moment as an opportunity. Embrace the moment and try to learn something from it. I have discovered how elastic my resilience can be and that alone has made the challenge worth it.
With love and purpose, always.
*This is not a paid post, by the way. I just really like the app.
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