Last week, I shared about my unemployment experiences, which you can read about here. Today, I’ll share how I came out of this black hole – and what lessons I’ve learned from this experience.
Learning to take care of myself
I was angry and stressed out after dealing with 50+ job rejections and taking care of loved ones. I was starting to lose faith. I wondered why God hadn’t provided a job, instead letting me fall into a pit of self-loathing despair.
I was really worn down, but I knew I couldn’t stay in that negative place.
I made the conscious choice to take care of myself and shift my perspective. I sought professional help. I went to support groups. I invested in community. And I KEPT GOING.
Giving up control
I decided to give my career to God. As I did, I experienced the freedom that comes from relinquishing control. Anger is exhausting, and worry is time consuming. I came to peace with my situation. I don’t have the answers to why things happen. And that’s okay. Matthew 6:33 became my motto for that season- and it still is to this day.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
The tide eventually turns
Two and a half years after graduating business school, the tides turned in my favor. I became the Director of Marketing at Abide, a Christian audio-guided meditation app. I love working on a product that positively impacts people’s life. I’m thankful to work with people who have similar values and drive.
Several people thought I was stupid for leaving Google and not going back. Yet, I knew I wouldn’t be able to thrive there. More than big company perks, I crave a job that combines my values, passions, and skills. That’s what I found at Abide – a job with meaning and purpose. Abide may not be for everyone, but it is the right fit for me. And I own that.
It’s important to be honest with yourself. Know what will feed your soul. Don’t do things simply because it looks good on paper.
It took a long time, yet God’s timing was perfect. In retrospect, by not having a job, I had the space to care for loved ones. It also gave me the time to face my inner demons and insecurities.
I am very thankful for how things turned around for me. But I don’t want to disregard those months in the trenches. These months shaped me into who I am today.
I want to share with you the 4 tips to surviving that unemployment life:
1) Realize that you are more than your job
It’s easy to feel worthless when you don’t have a job.
When you meet someone, one of the first questions is “What do you do?” My self esteem isn’t the highest when I don’t have an answer to this work question.
However, being jobless gave me time to work on myself. Unemployment shed light on my deepest insecurities. Before, I could avoid this soul searching by staying busy with work. After much processing, I realized that my human worth isn’t tied to where I work or what I do.
I am not my job and neither are you. Jobs can disappear in the blink of an eye, but you are more than that. Have strength in your character and know who you are outside of your job.
2) Develop a consistent routine
Job searching can provide a lot of unstructured time. Some days I would be home in my pajamas all day. Other days, I would spend hours watching Youtube videos.
Adding structure to your day and developing a consistent routine keeps you from sinking into a black hole of misery. For example, apply to jobs in the morning. In the afternoon, respond to emails. Work on side projects during certain days, and go to networking events in the evening.
And EXERCISE. I started swimming when unemployed, and I’m still kicking water today. I swam the Alcatraz race recently, and that achievement was birthed in these rocky waters.
3) Surround yourself with community
There’s a certain shame associated with unemployment. I was embarrassed to tell people I didn’t have a job, but I chose to be honest about my situation. Some people made me feel even worse about myself. So I decided to be intentional about who I spent my time with. Surround yourself with positive people, and limit your time with negative people.
I found it healthy to hang out with people from different walks of life. I gained moral support from folks at the local swimming pool and support groups. Being around different people gave me a needed life perspective.
My situation isn’t the end of the world. People experience hardships, too. We’re in life together. This too will pass.
Most importantly, do not shut people out. Unemployment can be a lonely place. Don’t isolate.
4) Rediscover yourself. Keep learning.
Use this time to explore new ideas or restart hobbies you previously had. See that dusty guitar in the corner? Start playing again. Curious about the tourism industry? Go to a meet-up group. Maybe you’ll love it, maybe you’ll hate. At least you’ll know.
When jobless, I started writing to find my voice, whether it was blogging privately or writing reviews on Yelp. Three years ago, I would never share my experiences publicly. I was too scared to live into who I was. And now here I am, producing videos and writing articles about matters close to the heart.
Whatever you do, keep learning in life. Don’t put your life on hold because you can’t get a job. Rekindle flames in other areas.
Most of all, this experience has taught me the importance of sharing my story. And to tell the full story — not only the social media highlights that portray a perfect life. A story’s richness comes from the incredible highs AND the earth shattering lows. Don’t disregard the low points in life. That’s where the beauty is born.
“Gold is refined in the fire.” I Peter 1:7
I realize that everyone’s life situation is different. Some people don’t have financial backing, while others need to urgently provide for their family. Everyone’s story and experience is valid. I share my story in hopes that it can encourage even one person.
If you’ve been unemployed or gone through a transitional time, what helped you get through it? Would love to hear your comments below.
And if you’re currently unemployed now (or going through any rough patch in life), hang in there.
You are not alone. I am cheering you on.
From my heart,
For more real talk from Tall Asian Girl, check out my other pages:
Youtube channel: Tall Asian Girl & Mama Lai