Job searching to me is the equivalent to falling down the rabbit hole.
I go through various feelings about not having a job right now. Sometimes I am relieved, grateful, relaxed, and refreshed. Many times I am overwhelmed with feeling guilty, scared, worthless, good for nothing, worried, anxious and defeated.
Like I will never, ever, find something.
Like all the education I have and thoughts I think won't be of use. And that just sucks.
But I am applying to places. I spend time tweaking and revising my resume and cover letter to meet the different qualifications the jobs are looking for. The technical assistance, curriculum coordinator, and professional support for educator jobs are not plentiful right now. I try to be flexible, patient, and creative in the job hunt. Different companies, different vocations, different towns within an hour radius of where I live currently. I am up for a new adventure. I want to live, learn, and acquire new skills. And I need to in order to carry forward. I am an adult and I need a job.
For those of you who know me as an early educator and wonder why I am not applying to be a preschool teacher here are some answers:
Most importantly (and you can judge this however you would like) I don't want to. I feel done. I did my time and I know that there is a shift happening internally for me that is giving clear information not to be a classroom teacher right now.
Also, there is no classroom or school like the one I have just come from that will hold a candle to the developmentally appropriate and curiosity driven curriculum like the one I was able to have daily creative control over, implement, and participate in like the one I just left. Yes, there are jobs to be a preschool teacher and no, they don't pay well.Different than being burnt out, I can recognize that I am done. I am a great teacher but I cannot go back to a classroom and be a teacher right now.
So nope. I don't want to apply to those jobs. I can't go into a classroom exploding with primary colors, plastic toys, and boxed curriculum. I won't. I would rather work at Starbucks.
And I have applied there. Yup, I am not too proud for serving coffee. I love coffee. It is one of my favorite things in the world to smell, taste, look at, and think about. Coffee and I are friends.
Working in that type of environment where I can serve, multitask and then go home and not think about the job would be a change I could handle. I could make some income but once I clock out, I can be in other parts of my life. Having just come from a place where I had to work daily to keep the balance between my real life and professional life, serving coffee for a few months would be a welcomed respite.
I know I can't do that forever. I am too much of an overachiever, over-thinker, and professional educator to do that forever.
But I can't find the damn jobs. The jobs where I can help support teachers, families, children...I don't want to be a teacher, but I do want to utilize my knowledge and experience in order to serve families and educators. I love presenting. Love it. But once you start searching around that rabbit hole you fall in.
You start feeling around in the dark for a flashlight and some semblance of key words and descriptions that fit your background and education but you come up with a flashlight that has bad batteries or a matchbox that got wet with matches you can't stike.
Sometimes, just sometimes, you put your hand down and feel a job. You scoop it in your hand and it feels like sand at the beach but the tighter you try to hold it and bring it closer to you, the quicker it slips out into the dark abyss and you just breathe deeply while trying to keep your cool.
I am told to be grateful for my time. Use this time. Use it.
Sure. Let me get right on that.
I watch my dogs relax so easily. And I wonder, 'how can I be more like them and just not worry? How can I shed the guilt and just be?' But then my mind remembers 'I need to get a job!' and the daydream disappears and I remember I am in the hole trying to find a job... Where are these things?!
So I try to go out and enjoy, read, relax, and remember that I am in a unique situation where I do not have to rush into the next job of my life. But I am me and sure enough, a few hours later I trip on the rabbit hole.
Some days the hole is really big. Today I fell head into the agony of the job search.
Last week, I was able to step over it. I applied for a few jobs and looked up toward the light and crawled out. It was lovely. I had hope, I felt grounded, I was trusting. And then last night I was filled with nightmares and despair and I couldn't breathe when I woke up. It feels like a literal weight on my chest. What am I going to do with my life? Or...what am I going to do right now to be productive?
So I am trying to be a trickster to the hole. Like make a deal and schedule time for it. I can jump in a few hours every few days. I talk to it saying, "Good morning! Let's find some jobs to apply to. What do you think we can apply for today?" Then I try to ignore the voice that responds with, "What do you mean a job? You are some kind of simpleminded girl to think you have anything of worth to get an interview at these places. Stop wasting your time." I recognize the voice as fear and try to reason with her until she resumes her spot away from me but the hole is big and her voice echoes.
Anyway, I schedule time with the rabbit hole. I apply to at least a few jobs whether I am overqualified or under-qualified so I can keep myself in the game. I think, 'How can I spin my experience to show I can do these things?' I try not to loose faith when I do not hear back from anyone about any of these positions. I try not to lean against the walls of the hole where there are roots poking and scratching at my inner sensitivities. I remind myself that I am worthy, loved, and capable. And that all of these feelings are natural and okay. But being the trickster is hard for me. Letting go of the control and jumping into the hole without seeing makes me want to vomit every.single.time. Being present and grateful for this is my daily challenge and gift. And in my peripheral is always the rabbit hole.
Brittany Courchesne is an early childhood educator, teacher mentor to teachers in training, public speaker, and blogger.