Guilt, Gratitude & the Post-Grad Job Hunt

Getting my first post-grad job felt like tons of pressure lifted off of my shoulders. It made me feel like I could breathe again. I hadn’t even noticed that I was holding my breath until all of the sudden there was so much air. But the best part about it was hearing how happy my mom was. How happy she was that I wasn’t going to have to feel the way I’d felt the whole time I was waiting. Just waiting, for someone to hire me. It was a relief because I no longer felt useless, guilty, like I wasn’t doing enough.

I tried to remind myself that job hunts are a numbers game, that all I had to do was keep applying and wait and see. I tried to tell myself that I was doing the best I could. And, I really was trying, even though I felt like I was spinning my wheels. But no matter how much I told myself that I was doing the best I could, the nagging thought that maybe I could do more was always in the back of my mind.

Was I doing enough? Was working 10–15 hours a week really enough when I’d worked double, sometimes three times that while taking full course loads? Was it really enough, knowing that my dad worked multiple jobs while learning English, getting his GED, graduating from college and always being a part of my life? Was it really enough, knowing how much my whole family had to sacrifice to send me to a private university in one of the most expensive places to live in the country?

It didn’t feel like it.

If an employer had asked me to bend-over-backwards, and jump through fire-rimmed hoops I would have done that. I would have figured out how. My resume was getting noticed, I was making it to final rounds of interviews but I wasn’t getting any offers. I had interned, and worked and gotten as ready as I could to apply to jobs but something wasn’t working and I felt so guilty.

I felt guilty for taking for granted that I was employable. I felt guilty for feeling that I deserved a job that allowed me to use my over-priced education. I felt guilty that when I applied to jobs that I thought wouldn’t fully engage my skills, I thought of them as “for now” or “to make rent” jobs. I felt guilty for feeling the need to qualify jobs that didn’t require degrees, because I KNOW that work is work; and it is always something to be grateful for. I felt guilty for feeling like I was “too good” for certain jobs, even though I was raised to know better. I felt guilty for being jealous of my peers who were able to take the “summer off” and frolic in Europe because if all else failed when they got back, they’d still have their trust fund. I felt guilty for wishing I didn’t have to be one of those people who worried about making rent each month. I was fed and clothed and housed because my dad took any and all jobs he could in order to make sure I could be where I am today. That made me feel the guiltiest. It also reminded me to be grateful.

Grateful to my family, for investing in me and believing in me even when I felt selfish. Grateful to them for teaching me that I am not too good for any job, but that it was okay to hold out in search for one that would make me feel fulfilled. Grateful to my mentors, sponsors, and friends all of which helped me in this process. Mostly, I am grateful for having found work when I needed it. Not everyone is this privileged.

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