Dawn,

I have to admit that the subject of this letter is not near and dear to my heart. To be honest, it make my stomach feel like a sailor is trying out all the knots he ever learned in his life on my internal organs, enough to make me vomit. It’s an anxiety-raising, stress-amplifying procrastinator’s nightmare. I’m talking about job applications.

Obviously, this is something that we’re both going through, so I don’t want to appear so self-centered and selfish as to think that I am the only one going through this hellhole, but because you’re going through this with me, you’re qualified to listen to (and shoot down) any and all of my complaints.

First of all, the questioning. Every time I’m in a group of people, I am asked what I’m doing now, and, when that is answered, get posed this question, “So what are you doing next?” What am I doing next? A terrified pause follows (provided by me) before I go into my spiel about how I’m looking into different options connected to the field of education, how my current job helps me see how that’s where my passions lie, how I cannot imagine a life without some connection to education, etc., etc., etc. And after the person(s) walk away, I am left with the sick feeling in my stomach because I’m not really a part of the field of education right now and why do I have to think about my future like that anyway?

Seriously, why do I have to question where I’m going after where I am right now? Shouldn’t I instead be full of happiness and receive encouragement for where I am now, and not just for where I want to be? Sure, I appreciate support for my future goals, but I also need support for the present. Where is the support from the people around me when I can’t get up the motivation to go to work (other than the fact that I need the money)? Where are their words when I feel my patience with my client waning? when it’s all I can do not to yell at both her and the second grade student she’s working with? Where are they when I feel trapped in my decisions and feel like I don’t deserve to even think about applying for a better position elsewhere?

Second, in relation to the questioning, the identity of all Millenials (and, indeed, all individuals) is being forced to relate to their career choices. Think about it. When was the last time you heard someone describe themselves without their career listed in the top three, if not first? (And yes, stay-at-home or full time mother/father is a career.)

I have lived my life being defined in relation to what I did or what my parents did. I was the artists’ daughter first, then I was the perpetual student, and now I’m a job coach. I don’t really want to be defined in that way anymore. I want to be known as intelligent, kind, courageous, motivated. Sure, I have to work hard to earn those things, but I’d much rather people identify me by those things than by my profession.

Finally, and this is the big one, there is the pressure of the applications themselves. Perhaps this is just me, but I maintain next to zero motivation to complete them, and the reasoning behind that lack of motivation is 100% fear and anxiety. Everything depends on those applications, and all the work behind them is often brought down to nothing by a single split-second decision.

It’s a terrifying business, one that discourages me from completing the many job applications I have started, something that I freely admit to you. And it’s something that I’ve talked about with my counselor, as well. Here is the advice he has given me: remember your perspective–that you are not alone in feeling these things or going through this experience; it is okay to feel anxiety about job applications; you will face this and come out the better for the experience.

It doesn’t feel like that now, though, hence I’m complaining. I only hope that someday soon both you and I will be able to see all the positives of the experience without having to apply to any more places!

Yours,

Wilber

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