by Cynthia Engle
previously published on 11/9/11
Pity Party for One
Recently, a friend asked for advice on how to go about finding a job in the city she just moved to- the same city that I have called home for the last three years. How exciting to be starting a brand new chapter in her life complete with a new love, a pristine metropolitan wardrobe, and a big ‘ole dose of hope. As bits of inside tips poured out about websites to explore, companies to research, newspapers to read, and people to meet, I realized that I am an information guru. I literally know every nook and cranny of the job market in “my” city. My knowledge expands past the straightforward local job listings. I know everything right down to the current trending articles on “What to wear to an Interview” or “Get Your Resume Noticed!” So why is it that I am still unemployed? How am I the “go to” girl, when I have nothing to show for it? To top it off I was asked to write an article on this particular subject of job hunting.
Please do not get me wrong, I am immensely flattered. It gave me the burst of inspiration that I had been waiting for. I might not be able to help myself, but at least I can help my friend and quite possibly whoever else stumbles upon my phenomenal how to guide. I just know that it will sweep the nation, helping thousands of people land the perfect job. Then as a result my article will hit the front page of all business websites, magazines, and dare I mention the New York Times! But inspiration is a funny thing. It lights you up like the Fourth of July and then burns out just as quickly as the last sparkler is lit.
I sat down at my computer every day for the last month, staring at the stark, white, empty page, drawing a blank. I realized that I cannot write in a fun and upbeat way when in actuality, I feel so broken. Every motivational word that I typed just seemed so fake. It was like those articles that I had been reading for the past few months, promising you a job if you simply try these tricks. I did not want to promise readers anything other than reality.
Then, suddenly, it was two days before deadline. Well, I have to figure out something because I had made a promise. Right now my only commitment in life is this article and I have not even completed that. I thought that maybe if I just string together my motivational words to make sentences, I will somehow come up with a half decent how to guide that might get featured in the free local newsletters. Or maybe I will sit here and just type. Type the first words that pop into my mind and I will make sense of it later. What started out as a writing technique I learned in high school to help with what we all know and dread as “writer’s block,” became perhaps the best form of self-healing. I wrote down each and every question that popped into my head all the while crying, shouting, and shaking my fist at what I imagined to be all the injustice that had been bestowed upon me. Why me? It’s not fair. After an excruciatingly long time, I am embarrassed to admit that all I managed to type was: “you’re right it’s not fair.” With that I opened a new document.
I might not have the answer to my burning question, “Why me?” but I do have a lengthy bullet list on what I have accomplished in my months of unemployment; however little or trivial they may seem. From helping plan a baby shower to aiding my mother in her quest to find the perfect new handbag, I found out just how much I have achieved. I grew in mind, body, and spirit. Maybe all I needed was to throw one gigantic pity party where only me, myself, and I were invited. So my advice to those that can relate to my current unemployed status is to let yourself have a meltdown, but be sure to move on. Here are five tips to help you get going and feeling productive.
Tip #1 Get Your Hands Dirty
Think of a project that is hands friendly such as gardening, scrapbooking, or baking. If you are fingers deep in soil, glue, or cookie dough, chances are that you will not be obsessively checking your phone. Let us be honest, your dream job has not called and if they do, they will leave a voicemail.
Tip #2 Boggle Your Mind
Research a topic other than resume building, job searching, or career switching. Feed your mind. Ever wonder what country eats the most chocolate (Switzerland) or who invented the motorized wheelchair (George Klein)? Now is the time to find out!
Tip#3 Boost Your Ego
Do something that you know you excel at. Your self-esteem has probably taken a hit. Boost it up! Have the highest score at scrabble? Whip out the board, challenge your opponents, and let the games begin. Remember this is to help you feel good about yourself, so allow yourself to be a sore winner and bask in your victory.
Tip #4 Help Thy Neighbor
Have a friend with a problem? See a stranger at the library stretching to reach a book on the top shelf? Help out and lend a hand. Donating your time and energy to someone in need instantly takes your mind off your own problems. Not to mention, a smile is contagious.
Tip #5 Get Physical
If all else fails, exert your body past the point of exhaustion. You will be too tired to think of anything else, but how sore your legs are. Go for a hike, the gym, or offer to babysit. Bonus points for offering to babysit, especially toddlers- not only are you in for a great work out, but you are also checking off Tip#4.
Pity parties are a great way to release negative energy and a great way to realize that you cannot control everything. The only thing you can control are your actions and emotions. You are currently fighting one of many personal battles so give yourself a break. Just remember to move on. No one likes a party pooper. And you better believe that sitting in front of a blank computer screen in your oversized sweatpants will not get you anywhere.
About the Author: Cynthia Engle graduated from Ithaca College in 2008 with her dual baccalaureates in Art History and Anthropology. She is now a Library student in Hawaii. She was blessed to have landed her “dream job” at such a young age, which also led to the realization that there are so many other dreams to chase. Although she has worked in a library environment since the age of 15, she is currently taking a break to pursue her master’s in business administration. She hopes to attend the University of Hawaii at Manoa in fall 2012. She believes that sometimes you have to take two steps back in order to take one gigantic leap forward and knows that her path will eventually lead back to a library. In between studying and writing essays, she spends much of her free time cultivating her new garden and baking endless batches of lavender cookies.
Editor’s Note: I met Cynthia when she was one of my circ desk students a the Ithaca College Library. She was a phenomenal student, worker and person- always giving her best!- Naomi