To merely Survive, or to thrive…

Yesterday I was talking to Mercy and she was telling me how at her former church, the leader had told the graduates to burn their degree certificates. His reasoning being they were spiritual set apart, so much so, that they did not need to get jobs but simply needed to start their own businesses. CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT GUY? The audacity? Of course like how stupid is it to burn your certificates? I mean just because you can’t get a job now doesn’t mean it will never happen. After all “Dzidzo inhaka yehupenyu(Education is an inheritance for life.

Those thoughts and convictions engrained in me so strongly jumped at me. Then the weary wisdom of an overqualified, under-experienced and disillusioned jobseeker knocked me right off my high horse. What this “man of god/profit” is instructing sounds uneducated, narrow minded but isn’t it the same sentiment all of you who chant entrepreneurship are saying. Are you not saying we need to abandon our formal qualifications and make alternative paths? As an unemployed person struggling to get a job I will confess that the idea of burning my certificates does hold a certain charm to it. It might achieve nothing but to be a symbolic letting go of the frustrations and disappointments of formal education. Then you remember I have only been job hunting for 6 months… What happens if 6 months turn into 2 years and 2 years into 5?

I don’t think burning certificates is a wise idea not just because of the value etc. As humans we have to not get into a habit of destroying everything we would have built when it fails. Even if our achievents stand as monuments of our failures and regrets, they are still worth it because in them there is a lesson. No matter the outcome the pursuit of this goal was a form of success and bravery. So what is the solution. What do you? What is next for you?

  1. Establish a routine
    This is by far the hardest one for me. But creating a structure around your day allows you to be more productive. Wake up. Bath. Change into something (Not your pyjamas… I am guilt of this one) Exercise. Then do whatever else you want to do.
  2. Volunteer
    Joel Osteen always used to have these sermons about how you have to help others to make yourself feel better. This is something I stand by with all my heart. When you help other people it allows you to put your struggle into perspective. It also makes you feel good. On a more practical point it keeps your CV active and growing.
  3. Unpaid internships
    The one perk of these is that they can be a good way to get a foot in the door and prove your worth. They are also a good way to get that experience that can potentially get you that job.
  4. Contact Everyone
    When I got back home I spammed everyone and their mother about how I was searching for a job. Honestly 95% of those were not fruitful. I have however gotten a 5% that message me with opportunities every time they hear of them. Send my Cvs out to partners of organisations. Though so far this hasn’t yielded a job yet it has helped me feel like am not alone. Knowing that there are people out there who are concerned about me helps. 
    Do routine messages if you still unemployed. Let people know you are still looking. Forget being embarrassed there is courage and honour in not giving up the fight.
  5. Update your CV
    You need to keep your CV up to date. Add on all those new achievements. Keep a copy on multiple platforms. I move around with hard copies of my CV because you may never know. My friend recently urged me to create a bio, these are great when trying to do introductory emails and also when other people are trying to pitch you to someone. Consider it an elevator pitch and you are the product.
  6. Read Books
    This gives you something to do to keep your mind engaged. Watching series and movies can feel a lot like escapism. Read books on new and different topics and in as many languages as you are fluent in.
  7. Learn New Skills
    This is so important. Things that don’t grow die and in humans we die inside first. Do those things you have always wanted to do. Play that sport you quit to focus on school. Learn that instrument. Start gardening and landscaping. Learn how to do hair. You don’t have to excell at this things you simply need the desire to learn and keep learning.
  8. Listen to motivational talks
    I start of my day with a 1hour compilation of motivational talks. I listen to them while I do my chores and exercise. They help me to frame my mind and just get ready for what comes next. Your day will be filled with lots of negativity but that negativity doesn’t have to start from within.
  9. Exercise
    I only started exercising when I gained weight but now am an addict. When you finish your exercise you know that you have accomplished at least one thing in your day. No matter what comes next in the day that’s covered. Gyms are expensive and in Zimbabwe they are exhorbitant. You don’t need a gym go running in your neighbourhood. Go play soccer with your friends. Skip with your siblings. Whatever you do just move. Exercise is also a good way to deal with that depression that always wants to creep in.
  10. Stay Hopeful
    Out of everything, this is the hardest part. It is hard because there is so many reasons to not be. And Zimbabweans can be so insensitive. “Zvinowaiti wakakosha nekuti wakaenda kuchikoro izvozvi wangove rovha sesu ( You thought you were special because you went to school now you just a bum like us).” “Izvozvi dayitatakora mari yatakatambisa tichikuendesa kuchikoro tingadai tigere bhoo (If we had taken the money we wasted taking you to school our lives would be great)”. These are just some of the remarks you are going to have to deal with. So I get you if staying hopeful is hard. However, you will need this more than anything else. Hope will keep you moving, keep you trying. Get out of the house. Limit your exposure to those negative people if you can. Talk to your friends with jobs and businesses. Pray or do yoga. Whatever it is you need to do, do it.

I will be frank with you. You might never get a job ever. If it’s an option for you consider further study. If it’s not consider entrepreneurship. Between being formally employed and entrepreneurship. Be patient with yourself and figure out what works for you and your situation. Forget what they have told you even forget what am saying and listen to your gut. There is no shame if you never want to be an entrepreneur and it’s not all glory when you choose entrepreneurship. If you are here now, you know that life is unpredictable. So spend it making compromises and sacrifices that you will be proud of.