For the past couple of months, I have been a full-time job seeker applying to all sorts of jobs on different websites. Life as a full-time job seeker is not how I imagined. It is exhausting, usually resulting in self-doubt and self-hatred. And yet, everyone endures as if it is a normal chapter of a person’s life.
Since April of this year, every day has been the same. I wake up and do my morning routine, then start the coffee maker, sometimes make a light breakfast. From there on, my time is mostly spent on the computer. I check my email, work on my resume, apply for jobs, practice writing, and apply for more jobs. Lunchtime is usually around one o’clock in the afternoon; then I go on a walk with my dog. Afterward, I stay at the computer desk until dinner, then continue with my work until around one o’clock in the morning. It truly feels like a full-time job. The difference is that despite all the progress I made, there is no sense of productivity, satisfaction, or that my work is paid off in any way.
During this time, self-loathing starts to get lousier as days go by. All sorts of questions flush through my head: “Is something wrong with me? Why does no one want to hire me? Have I overrated myself? Will I ever find a job? Will I forever be a jobless loser who went to school for four years and got a degree for nothing?” When self-hatred became too overwhelming, blaming other people becomes a habit. “It is not me; it’s them. They are too full of themselves to realize what I could offer.” “It is not me; it’s the education system that wasted my time and money, then left me with nothing. And they dare to invite me to be in their stupid alumni society, so they can suck more of my blood and leave me dry with nothing?” Everything becomes hateful in my eye, even myself. The world becomes a dark place to live in. Gradually, depression creeps in and does its wonders. Unemployment is a scary disease; the longer I am in it, the faster it eats me away.
Where did it go wrong for so many other people and me? Was it because of what we chose for our career? Is it because of where we live? Perhaps it is our race, our gender, or our heritage? Or our skills and experience are not needed in the workforce? All these unanswered questions become forgotten once we get a job and come back when we are out of work yet again. Self-doubt and depression never go away. They stay in a corner, in the back of our head, waiting for a chance to show themselves. They make us feel sorry for ourselves and hate others for our misfortune. But whose fault is it? Is anyone responsible for all this but us? More questions go unanswered. More days go by without hope or progress. Life of a full-time job seeker has never been more miserable.
Last Saturday, I had long talks with my family about my struggles to find work. Usually, I would be too ashamed to start this kind of conversations, but I snapped out of it and asked for their advice. Nothing new but the age-old advice. “You are going to find something eventually.” “I was unemployed for over two months before between jobs; it’s normal, just a part of life.” “Maybe go see an employment agent? They can help you work on your resume and connect you to companies.” Etc. Not all advice is useless; in fact, I am going to see an employment agent sometime this coming week. But there is something about it that rubs me the wrong way. Everyone around me treats unemployment like it is a normal thing. Being jobless is just a phase; the chapter you must read through to reach the next one. So many people invested their time and money in four years of college and ended up jobless, penniless, and depressed; nobody thinks twice about it. Why have we come to this point in our society? Even with the advancement of technology and communication, it is harder for people to work in the field they went to school for, let alone have a dream job and be successful. Sure, there are those who want to lay back, go with the flow, and enjoy the easy treats. But, “stuck-up” people like me want so much more. What is the point of studying and spending a fortune in a degree if I am going to sit on it? What is the degree for if most of the jobs I applied for only required a high school diploma — and they did not even want me?! Where is my American dream, if I do not have the chance to start working?
A chance. That’s it! All I ask for is a chance, an opportunity to work, to be productive, to contribute my knowledge, my talents. How do I show recruiters my determination, if they only read my name then set the resume aside? I know it is not their faults. Companies cannot risk their business over a stranger. I wonder if I would do the same thing if I were one of them. I desperately want a company to realize the potentials in me and give me the opportunity I need. I hope when I am 35, with a successful career, I can look back and smile at this entry. I long for a coming day that brings some good news. Who knows, but I must keep going until I stop.
To unemployed young people out there: you are not alone. We have to keep going until something good happen. What you are undergoing right now is not — and should not be — normal. But it is, in a way, kind of exciting to find out what will happen along your way. Maybe, it will be one of the many jobs you applied for. Perhaps, it will be a chance to choose a different career path that will lead somewhere. Maybe, this is a chance to look at your life differently. Either way, this certainly is not a dead end, if you keep going and trying.