I have had many ups and downs in my extended job hunt (mostly downs), but it’s been a real learning experience. Being out of work for a long time can do weird things to your psyche. There is the shame of it mostly, and the creeping feeling that something must really be wrong. I also have lots of reasons (excuses?) why I haven’t found work.
- The economy: “Dude,” I say, “it’s really bad out there, especially since the housing bubble burst in 08!”
- The local economy: “Dude,” I exclaim, “have you seen how many places have closed in our area?”
- I’m still in school: Only I’m not, so this doesn’t really work as a valid excuse anymore. I should say, “recent graduate”!
- I suck: “Dude!” I proclaim, “I think I just suck at this!”
The last excuse falls into the shame category, but it’s the demon I have to fight the hardest. You would think this would get easier with age, but self doubt smells just as enticing in your 40s. I recently had a job interview where there were five smiling faces from the HR dept staring at me. I was expected to answer some questions that they handed me on a sheet of paper. I was allowed to make notes before I went into the room, so I was a bit prepared. I’ve had this happen before without prior warning as well, and all I could hope was that I didn’t have that beauty pageant smile frozen on my face while I stumble through an answer about saving the children and world peace. I think this time I sound self possessed as the words spilled out of my mouth, but I won’t know unless they call back. At least I didn’t say, “Dude!”