Monday, June 2, 2008

Unemployed and suffering from some serious burn-out

I've always been particularly susceptible to burn-out.  Knowing this about myself, I tend to get things done as quickly as possible, be they projects, school, or even careers (I am the youngest retired person I know, in a way).  I had Chicago burn-out, so here I am 36 hours into living in San Francisco, reunited with Nick and with some serious hope for the future.  There is, however, one burn-out I just can't seem to rectify: unemployment.  And the goshdarn awful thing that is the job search.

If we want to get technical with it, then I've been searching for a job for ten months.  However, realistically I've only been looking at San Francisco for the past three, and I've been unemployed for maybe six weeks.  I really shouldn't feel like someone ashed their Cuban cigar directly on my brain, but I do.  Why?

First of all: I'm still not entirely sure what I want to do.  My education was both too specific and too broad: my dance degree was really only good for making me a competent dancer and a potential dance administrator, and my philosophy degree just made me curious about absolutely everything.  My passions are music, art, animals, fitness/healthy living, and the environment.  Goals include an MBA (maybe MBA/JD), a condo, charity work, and lots of travel.  The problem I am currently running into is that there isn't a clearly identifiable connection between my skills/education, passions, and goals.  Trying to think clearly about my career path is like herding cats.  A big, loud, hilarious mess.

Second issue: I have now learned that unless you are absolutely indispensable or a very high-ranking worker, never under any circumstances should you look for a job in another city without being there first.  No one takes you seriously.  No one believes that you really promise you are going to move across the country, away from a city you have lived in for 23 years, to happily tackle their entry-level dance donor database position.  Nor do they have complete confidence in a person they are interviewing via video conference.  In the end, you don't want to deal with all of these things anyway.

Third issue: I am a twenty-something.  By definition, our lives are tumultuous, a bit depressing, maniacally busy, and a bit of a joke to everyone who isn't one of us.  It's no freaking wonder that I am so tired I never want to write another cover letter EVER again.  Optimism in the face of the economy, of history, and of circumstances beyond your control is absolutely exhausting.  I'm at the end of a 4-month-long recruitment period with a particular employer, and at this point even a negative answer would feel better than the stress of trying to keep up hope.

The whole situation is a bit of a circular logic problem: I'm burned out and depressed because I'm so tired of looking for a job, but we all know that burn-out makes it almost impossible to do something well.  If you aren't effectively kicking the ass of the job search process, you're never going to find anything in this economy.  

The real kicker is that it doesn't matter to anyone else if I'm suffering from burn-out.  I've still got to be the proactive, type-A go-getter I've always been, feigning optimism.  Otherwise, there's no way out.

Now please excuse me, it's time for a quick stroll along the Craigslist job boards...


Susan said...

You just reiterated every single emotion I am feeling today. The situation so similarly matches my own -- I feel so utterly defeated, and yet this relentless optimism keeps me going back for more. It's a hard rut (and a rut it certainly is) for the twenty-something...All I can do is wish you the very best.

Victoria said...

Susan, good luck to you as well. Keep it up, and I'm sure something will come through.

Pretty Cool Lawyer said...

I am about to move to a new city to be with my sweetie. I am really worried about the process (I am already looking at jobs). But don't give up; you and I will find something wonderful. I too burn out quickly, and this commiseration oddly makes me feel better about the situation.

Victoria said...

@pretty cool lawyer. You can't go into the process being worried. You have to look at the situation for what it is: an opportunity to shake up your world, acquaint yourself with a new city, escape the horrible world of long-distance relationships, and broaden your network that will help find you the next great job. Embrace it with a sense of adventure and all will be fine!

(I'm even surprising myself with this kind of optimism, not even three weeks into my new city...)

Cody McKibben said...

I feel you about keeping up your optimism in the face of current circumstances, and about fighting burnout. Hang in there. I don't think there's an absolutely clear path between anyone's skills/education and their goals. Just keep taking those small steps you recognize you HAVE to take towards what you want, add on new skills that you know will help you here and there, and incrementally, you'll get there.