A Substitute for Positive Attitude

Copyright: Maria Symchych-Navrotska

I’m having a bad day of underemployment. Sometimes, I’m able to appreciate the extra time I have, the energy I can spend on my kids or hobbies, but not today. Right now, I feel very, very insecure. I have been looking for full-time employment for seven months. The last time I seriously job hunted, I was 29 years old and it took six weeks. I have always relied — not on an optimistic nature or naturally upbeat attitude (because I don’t have those) — but on my determination: Keep sending out resumés, talking to contacts and taking interviews. Stay open to new possibilities. Something good has to happen eventually. It’s math, the law of averages or whatever.

But seven months and a pandemic, I have to admit, are wearing away at my perseverance and, honestly, my self-esteem. After throwing hundreds of applications and writing samples into the black hole of the internet and having nothing more to show for it than a folder full of rejections and a slew of unanswered emails, I am starting to wonder…lots of things:

  • What am I missing?
  • Am I doing something off-putting in interviews?
  • Am I too old?
  • Are there too many applicants out there, desperate for jobs, to compete with?
  • Do I need to give up on this goal of mine: full-time employment as a writer?

I’m open to improvement. I’ve poured over my resumé with Jason, the staffing expert. I’ve asked for feedback after interviews and gotten the unspecific and unhelpful, “We decided to go in a different direction.” I’ve continuously tweaked and updated my social media profiles, and I have stellar references. It’s hard to continue to do those things, month over month, without visible progress or results.

I’m not giving up. I’m just having a bad day. And in seven months of trying and failing to find a job, you know this isn’t my first dip into despair or my last. I’m reworking my portfolio; I’m applying for more jobs; I’m taking on contract work and submitting stories to contests, thinking something has got to lead to somewhere good, stable, long-term. I may cry, I may be irritable, I may yell at the dog and feel kinda shitty. But I won’t stop my pursuit even as my inner pessimist grumbles that I’m not getting anywhere. That inner pessimist is stubborn, but she’s not as hard-headed as I am. Fuck her.

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