Treat Yo'Self: Self-Care During the Job Search
Job searching is not usually described as fun. And while I can say I got more involved and kinda enjoyed certain parts of it, there were lots of trying moments (see: days, weeks), where I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. Self-care and loving yourself when there are much more urgent and important priorities can seem like it shouldn’t top the list. But your relationship with yourself IS most important. It’s not selfish or foolish or too expensive. It’s worth every unwritten email and $5 iced coffee. Here’s what I enjoyed my year in-between jobs:
Got flown to Texas, Tanzania, DC for free (perks of the interviewing process!)
Visited friends in Boston, NY, DC, MA
Reached out to old acquaintances for coffee
Made regular Skype dates with long-distance friends
Visited uncle in Portugal
Traveled sola in Spain
Went to surf camp- boas ondas
Started teaching donation yoga classes
Got outside- created my own routine with AM practices, readings, meditation, yoga
Tried SUP yoga and pole dancing classes
Did a LOT of yoga
Returned to therapy
Participated in meditation sanghas and didn’t die during a Native American sweat lodge (woot woot!)
Spent Election Day and Inauguration day abroad
When I really took care of my body and did things for myself, the work flowed more easily.
When I sat down at my computer with the goal of banging out 2 cover letters per day and didn’t do me first, what did I do? I scrolled thru LinkedIn, got jealous of contacts’ accomplishments, felt shitty about myself until my eyes were twerking and I had to close my laptop. Oh, and guess what, I didn’t write those two letters. But I sure beat myself up about it. Cue shame spiral. I hate myself and my life, ahhhh I’m dying.
I felt like I was dying because for so long I had wrapped identity up with work: production, outputs, outcomes. What kind of performance do you have? Praise received? Results produced? Tell me, show me, prove it!
Instead of being proud of my good stuff, all those accomplishments I’ve achieved, the life I’ve been able to build for myself, I got stuck in the negatives. Not a fun place to be. Hard to get out once you’ve hard wired the same damaging feedback loop in your brain. Need to change that. I’m working on it. So, if I could start this year over again, I’d continue to engage in all the novel experiences and time for myself that I included. But I’d also incorporate some more activities like:
Spent more time in coffee shops (it’s clutch to change up your environment every once in while)
Volunteered more (I didn’t want to make a commitment I’d break but this fleeting feeling meant I didn’t really settle and find a home in my local community)
Taken part time work (at the local coffee shop of course)
Conduct more in-person informational interviews (yes, pay for the train into NYC)
Stay in the city long term to make sure I can attend free events at universities, job fairs, other in person conferences
Take an online course (see: Udemy, Coursers or Trendimi)
Taken better care of myself
Gone on the Vipassana meditation retreat
Listen for when I’m forcing myself to do something
Take more risks
Loose the guilt
The point is, this journey isn’t easy. You have to take it one step at a time. You have to release from all expectations around outcomes and hope and know that you are doing your best. Maybe you aren’t going to land your dream job, or the organization isn’t going to be perfect. Maybe to do what you really want, you’ll have to tolerate quirky colleagues and an intense schedule. Everything is a give and take. Just make sure that the intensity and pressures you may feel don’t force you to cut back on your best weapon and most powerful tool: self-care. It’s preserving this relationship with yourself and honoring your body that will let you bring your best self to each day, whatever your responsibility.