I recently left my corporate job and am back on the job market (hmu if you have any opportunities. I also do community consulting). It was a job I loved doing but I knew it was time to develop new muscles and kickstart the next chapter of my career and story.
It was scary. I have an apartment, bills, debt, and of course, student loans (so more debt). I’m fortunate where I am a single young female, a 2x startup founder + great career experiences, open to new opportunities and even a new city (or country, I see you, London). I’m very blessed in many ways (I’ve been told) but it is also TERRIFYING. Just because I have good work experience, a great reputation for getting things done + being a community builder, and can charm people in an interview, it doesn’t mean people were lining up to give me a ridiculous amount of money for my dream job. That’s just not how it works.
Finding the right job is like dating. Both sides have to really like each other and see a future worthy of investing in. If anything, it’s even harder to find a job you A.) Enjoy, B) Can do well, C) Offer you the right compensation and package, D) is a growth opportunity from what you did before, E) You like and hopefully, admire your boss and team, F) Is for a company/service you believe in (Mission and Vision are v important), G) In a location you can live in and be moderately happy, H) has an environment you can thrive in, and so on.
Was this the most millennial list of requirements (much like this article. It’s done on purpose)? YES, absolutely. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. That said, I have enough experience to know what I’m bringing to the table (spoiler: its the whole freaking table) to ask and expect most, if not all, of these things.
Moving on, this funemployment period gave me a chance to really think about what I want and need. More importantly, I am at a place where I can evaluate what is going to propel me forward and what’s holding me back. This, in a combination of reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and living in a heightened period of sensitivity, insecurity, and ambiguity, fostered a lot of internal questions. Questions which triggered a vigorously journal session to unpack my fears, better understand them and hopefully, uproot them.
I took my natural defense mechanism of thinking of the worst-case scenarios and doubled down to see what really is the worst that can happen. I cannonballed down this fear rabbit hole. To where I found myself in a place, I did not expect.
Disclaimer (Take this seriously because we are going deep here people!!): What I’m about to show you is a snippet into my crazy mind. Attempt this at your own risk and sanity.
I was in a meditative state while journaling when I did this exercise so I was very open, receptive and curious. I can see if I was in an anxious mindset, this would have easily caused a panic attack so if you’re going to try it, please be careful. Get support – have your best friend on call. Light a lavender candle. Meditate for three hours. Don’t do this and make any decisions or operate any machinery. I don’t know, just take care of yourself!
(This is like a mental trip and I’m only sharing my experience. Your experience may be totally different. You may quit your job. Leave the scrub that you’re with. Dye your hair a crazy color. I don’t know! I am not liable for where you end up!)
Let’s jump in.
I started with the first fear that came to mind: Not finding a job. Then, I took it a step further and thought about what would happen if that happened – I burn through my savings and run out of money. Then, take another step deeper – I risk being evicted from my apartment.
I dug deeper and deeper. After each step, I thought “ok, then what!” and started hyping myself up like the sadomasochism I am. I pushed myself to explore the next worst-case scenario and the one after that until I reached a point where the underlying fear revealed itself…
Here’s the full example:
Not finding a job → running out of money → being evicted (because I can’t pay my bills) → moving in with my family (which is a privilege not many others have but personally, a mental nightmare) → being ashamed and embarrassed (that I have to move home as an adult because I don’t have my shit together, will be a burden to my family and won’t be at the optimal place to grow) → not having peace of money (to focus on bettering myself, being suffocated, and being stunted professionally).
Then once I reached a (dis)satisfying point in exploring THAT fear, I started on another one.
Settling on the wrong opportunity (due to the desperation of waiting for the right opportunity) → wasting time, money, and resources at a position/company that won’t help me grow professionally → grow apathetic and not pursue my passions or goals of helping others → waste my life, potential, talent, and skills → being ashamed and embarrassed because I didn’t do something more in my life → live an unhappy and unfilled life (ha! Typical millennial)
Then, another. (But let’s switch from a professional fear to a romantic one to spice things up)
Not finding a good partner → being alone (ugh) → feeling sad and unworthy of love (being alone isn’t a terrible thing but socially, it is… “unacceptable” for women to be single) → being vulnerable and making a bad decision to be with someone that’s not good for me (that’s a whole other can of worms) → being slut-shamed and/or being shamed for being single too (either way I’m failing) → then to be judged and mocked by friends, family, and society (ughhh social expectations is stupid!) → feeling ashamed and embarrassed → ending up alone in the long term
(The super feminist in me feels like this isn’t that bad! I can adopt dogs, focus a 1,000% of my time, energy and focus on my goals, travel the world whenever I want, and live my best life with fewer obligations… I wouldn’t mind being that “cool aunt” that had these worldly experiences but that’s another conversation)
We’re getting really personal people. I did this for a few of my fears and realized I had a pattern on my hands. I know, I’m like Detective Pikachu… (multi-layered joke because I’m also Asian and grew up LOVING Pikachu).
I realized that at the root of my fears – if all the worst-case scenarios played out in the most HORRIFIC way possible, if I had the worst luck at every step of the way, then my hell on earth would be *drum roll please* feeling ashamed and embarrassed…
At this point of the night, I took a huge sigh of relief due to the clarity and self-discovery. Only to be followed by another sigh in realizing I clearly care way too much about what people think. (Personal development can be so annoying sometimes. You reach a point in development, only to realize you still got a WHOLE lot more to go. This time it’s in a different direction and you have a new problem to solve…)
As I confronted my fear – the thing that cast this huge shadow, the monster that was haunting my nightmares, I realized, it wasn’t that bad or scary at all… Let me explain.
Now, I fully recognize this is many people’s reality. Some of the things I mentioned in my exploratory trip happened to me, someone I know and maybe, even to you, my reader. Maybe you went through it or maybe you’re going through it now. My point of this is not to demean your or anyone’s experience whatsoever. For me, and only me, I realized that if this were to happen to me, these worst-case scenarios, it won’t be the “end-of-my-world” catastrophy as I originally thought.
Don’t get me wrong – being homeless, having no money to support yourself, and being lonely are not pleasant experiences. That said, I believe if it were to happen to me, I will do my best to find a way to better my circumstances and try to uplift myself. It won’t be easy but it is not the cataclysm (had to look up that word to capture what I wanted to convey) as I thought.
I also believe that you also can find a way to overcome whatever adversity you’re experiencing. Whether it’s finding your next opportunity, overcoming homelessness, discrimination, injustices, and so on. I believe we do have the capability to pick ourselves up whenever we reach rock bottom. Not only can we learn from that experience – who we are and what we’re made of. We also discover what’s/who’s really important to us (sometimes that’s riveting in itself. Had to look up that word too!).
We can come out of it better than we did before.
All that silver lining talk aside, let’s be honest. It’s going to fucking suck. It’s going to suck so badly when you’re in it – at the bottom of the deep, deep hole you’re trying to climb out of it. That’s ok. It’s going to suck for a bit. It may suck for a while. Either way, I hope you still have faith that things can and will get better.
Now, it’s going to require hard work, dedication, patience, and a hell of a lot of resilience to get you on solid ground again. But I have faith you can pass this and look back months, years, and many accomplishments from now, thankful for the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals.
In closing, I recognize that, in many ways, I have a lot of privileges others may not. I am young, healthy, college-educated, have a support system, and a great number of opportunities in front of me. I am truly blessed and grateful. I also know it can be frustrating to read someone talking about hope, overcoming adversities and hardships when we do not share the same burdens. Because of that, I want to ask you if there is anything I, and the Strive Community, can do to support you through your difficult time, please let us know.
We are here to support others on their personal development journey. Naturally, I cannot promise or guarantee anything. That said, I’ve learned that people can’t help you if they don’t know what you’re struggling with, what you need, or what you’re trying to accomplish. It’s scary to talk about though. I get it.
But if you are open to sharing what you need, we would love to find a way to help. That could be a form of being supportive – sharing words of encouragement (we’re human, we all need positive affirmations. There’s nothing wrong with it.) It can be sharing a resource you may not know about or need a reminder of. Maybe we know someone in a similar position, someone who overcame their situation or can provide help.
Either way, I would love to learn what you’re afraid of and how you’re working through your fears. And if there’s anything we can do to help, please let us know! I invite you to Strive with us!