Unemployed and not (completely) depressed about it

Jobless and no future plans again for the second time in my life. Having been in school for most of my life, looking for a job again is a little scary. But it’s exciting too! I’m unemployed, and not completely depressed about it!

Thankfully, I’ve had some travels or future travel plans to distract me. Spoken like a true travel addict, right? Here’s how the past ~6 months of job searching has been for me. (Holy crap! It’s been half a year already?!) I am not yet depressed about the job search, and hopefully I can keep it that way!

Tacombi Fonda Nolita

Cool bike outside of a taco place I went to recently. More details about it below!

The future isn’t SO bleak

Even though I’m in a transitional period of my l life, I don’t feel so hopeless about it. Or at least, I don’t feel bad about it all the time every day. Once I’m done with preparing for my thesis defense and go through with the actual defense, I’ll have more time to feel more depressed. At the moment though, it still feels manageable. In fact, I leave this week for Singapore to do those things. (I just had a short stopover in Los Angeles to see friends.) Although I may come back fully depressed…

We’ll see when I am full time unemployed, but for now, I think I’m handling this jobless phase decently OK!

OMG I have to find a JOB

Job searching individuals should really form a support group because it can be very emotionally taxing. How to not get depressed during a job search is super important for your mental health!

I recently spoke with a friend who is working part time at a startup about his job search experience. He felt demoralized from doing coding challenges for companies and not receiving any feedback or reasons why they were no longer interested in hiring him. Despite what it may seem like, he says that coding can be very subjective, with certain people preferring different styles and philosophies when it comes to their approach to coding.

I get that it can be subjective, but it sucks. Especially if you have no clues as to why they have gone with someone else.

I do also have moments of self doubt, but I try to remind myself of the cool things I’m doing and have done. You have to remind yourself that looking for a job is only part of your life, not defining your life.

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My job search…

So far, I’ve been applying to a smattering of science and STEM related positions, as well as some staff writer positions at various places.

I know that I do not function as well in a more “self-employed” type of lifestyle, at least not with what I was doing this summer trying to prepare for my thesis defense. I don’t think I can work from home all the time. I haven’t mastered that level of self discipline yet.

What I do know is that I am completely ready for a job that I love. I’m ready for my dream job. I’m ready for a company that is awesome and values their employees and work life balance. That’s my dream.

That’s partly why I’m wary of applying for jobs with nonprofits. I love the work that nonprofits do, but I’m tired of being in an organization that doesn’t function well. I know that every company or organization will have its problems, but nonprofits have a tendency to have some of the worst ones.

Where will I end up? Who knows! I’m excited to find out.

How to survive the job search slump

1. Stay busy

As much as finding a job is a number one priority, it’s good to have side projects going. Some of these may even turn into side hustles if you work at it. I do this travel blog thing, play ultimate, knit occasionally, get better at climbing, and am trying to finish 12 books by the end of the year. So far, I’ve finished 10! Woot woot!

Staying busy also forces you to be efficient with your time. When I’m working, I’m working. When I know I’m going out to meet friends later in the day, it forces me to meet that day’s goals in a shorter amount of time. It also helps to have different types of projects going on, some more work-like and some more fun/creative.

2. Plan your next trip

This is a travel blog after all. Having something to look forward to in the future always helps with keeping spirits and motivation up. Even if that is just a trip to there other side of town to see a new exhibit or check out the fall foliage. Me? I’m planning my next trip to Singapore to finally defend my thesis and chill with friends. I may do a short trip to Indonesia since I’ve never been and I keep reading about how amazing it is there.

3. Stay social

Don’t tune out. Let your friends know that you are around. Even if you can’t relate on daily matters if they are employed, being around people who understand your situation (no need for explaining or updates) really can help you maintain your mental health.

For example, don’t turn down invites to meet up with friends. I went to a great taco place recently with friends from high school. It was refreshing to see people whom I haven’t seen in years, and also to grab some delicious tacos at Tacombi (a Mexican street taco style restaurant). We caught up, had a great meal, and even tried spicy margaritas for the first time!

My favorite tacos were the Baja crispy fish and the chorizo. The corn and guacamole are also pretty bomb!

Tacombi Nolita

When in doubt, go for tacos with friends! I recently went to this place in Nolita, Manhattan called Tacombi. Really delicious street style tacos in an awesome setting. We also had spicy margaritas which were actually pretty spicy!!

4. Routines are your best friend

Humans are creatures of habit. A daily or weekly routine will keep you calm and fend off anxiety that you aren’t making any progress and nothing will ever change and this is your life now.

Knowing that you are going for a run the next morning takes away the decision anxiety of “Should I? Do I feel like it?” If it is part of your routine, you don’t have to think about it and that takes some of the decision pressure off by eliminating the need to make a decision.

5. Don’t clamp down on expenses

Hopefully you have a financial cushion, and this means you don’t have to go super frugal and stop spending any money ever. Let yourself have some spending money and keep a close eye on your budget, but don’t go too lean or else you will deprive yourself of things that give you joy. Let yourself get a nice coffee once a week. Or go out to eat at your favorite restaurant. Or get that kitchen tool that makes cooking a more pleasant experience for you.

6. Have a not fuzzy career goal

If it can’t be a clear goal, at least have a relatively not fuzzy career goal. It can be easy to feel like any job would be great at this point in your life, but you won’t be happy in any job. Be clear (or not too fuzzy) about what types of jobs you want to apply for and stick to it.

This also takes some of the decision pressure off. You won’t waste energy and get into decision fatigue, so then you can use that energy on the important things.

Tacombi Fonda Nolita

This is the entrance to Tacombi, Fonda Nolita location. They have the original taco truck straight from Mexico parked inside!

Unemployed, unite!

I hope that I can maintain this positive attitude throughout the rest of my job search. I know that financial anxiety will creep up on me, but other than that I should stay confident and excited about the next phase of my career!

Are you feeling a bit depressed by the job search? Let me know if you are also job searching and need someone to talk to! It can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be!

Let’s share our insecurities and anxieties. Let’s talk about how we messed up that interview. It’s not the end of the world, and sometimes being reminded by someone else works better than repeatedly telling yourself.

Job searching can be depressing, but it can also be exciting and a good time to do the things you want to do. Don’t let the negative aspects of looking for a job get you down!

Going through a job search? Me too! Let’s commiserate.