Navigating the Heaviness of Later-In-Life Job Searching

resume parchment

… is an answer to “So, Kristina, what’ve you been up to lately?” Yes, I am currently blessed with the full-time opportunity to hone my job search skills … and exercise my self-esteem. My emotions get exercised too … going from “You can do it!” (“Waterboy” anyone?) to sarcastic and snarky (see the second sentence in this post) to wanting to “slow down and obsess over the weight of life’s problems” (thank you, Sadness [“Inside Out”]).

Sadness from Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out”

Thankfully I’m positive (most of the time) so I realize I have blessings, as well as albatrosses (albatrossi?). Depending on my state of mind, I either find my positives or negatives more readily. I don’t believe in suppressing the negative necessarily. It’s more like wanting to limit it … prevent it from dragging me down to the point of no return. Humor often comes to my rescue. It ranges from giggling at why a female is Iron Man to snortling at a fart joke. I’ve come to know that wisdom is knowing when to share what. I don’t intend on telling any gas-passing wisecracks at my next interview … whenever THAT may be.

(OK, settle down, Pessy McPessimism. You haven’t exactly been applying to 100 jobs everyday.) Oh yeah, well I haven’t exactly been getting a whole bunch of “call-backs” from when I do apply. Sigh. *inhale … exhale*

Both sides have a point. I do need to make an effort in my job search. I can’t expect to hear anything back if I don’t apply in the first place. However, rejections and lack of response aren’t exactly known for being great motivators either.

“You’re not getting any youuuuunger.” I know that, who isn’t? Ok, Dorian Gray, but most of us aren’t him. I’m not one to freak out about aging. I think I almost squeed at my first silver hair. I look forward to being older and more wise. It definitely helps that I’ve had wonderful role models (hi, mom and dad!) in the older people department. Yes, I have some extra aches and pains, my metabolism isn’t as high (damn it), and I’m listening to NPR more, but that isn’t “the beginning of the end”. I like to think of it as more of a new chapter in my life.

Sigh, but I wasn’t expecting to have to be job searching at this point. (Well, surprise, it’s what’s happening.) Some of my insecurities are speaking up more easily now.

  • “Who will want to hire you? You’re not a spring chicken anymore.”
  • “Yes, you have over 15 years experience in the design field, but you’ve got these ‘gaps’ in your employment history. They’re not gonna like that.”
  • “Ha! Good luck trying to find a modern design job without knowing a lot of Javascript.”
  • “See those successful young designers out there? You didn’t start out the same way they did. That means you won’t be successful.”

Yes, some of those comments are ridiculous, and I know I need to ignore them, but they still are annoying and don’t help. (Well, shut them up.) I’d love to, but how? (I know it seems cliché to say, but concentrate on your strengths.) Sigh, what strengths? (Oh, c’mon now. You’ve got lots. They’re just not necessarily all like everyone else’s. Do you really want to be “like everyone else”?) No. I want to be unique … stand out. (That’s the spirit! Just remember not to let your perfectionism get in the way. I know you’ve felt this way before … if you can’t be perfect at something, then your “aww, fuck it” mentality appears.) Yeah, I know. I’m working on it.

It helps to go in more with the mindset of “sure, my stuff isn’t perfect, but it’s good. And it might be just what somebody else needs.” I’m also trying to keep in mind that comparing myself to others has to be done very carefully … if at all. I don’t expect to be the only designer out there that people want. I have a different style from other designers and artists and I celebrate that. I love diversity! Cookie-cutter is borrring. (Unless you’re making some gingerbread or sugar cookies, right?) Lol, yeah. Anyway, clients have diverse styles and needs. There’ve got to be those out there that can benefit from what I have to offer. (Yes!)

The thing is, how do I find them? How do I get them to find me? (You’re doing it now … updating your portfolio and resume, applying to jobs, reading helpful articles, posting on social media. It just takes patience. Things don’t happen overnight.) Sigh, yeah, you’re right. It’s just so draining sometimes not getting “the love” that is needed every once in a while to let me know I can make a difference (and a living) in the design/creative world. (I know it can be, but having a basic plan for finding a job is key.)

So, make job searching my job? (Yes, exactly! Come up with a plan and have actionable steps each day. Get that rewarding sense of accomplishment daily to help get you through.) Yeah, good idea. Plus, it’s a good excuse to use my pens and bullet journal more. I love planning! (Good! Just don’t get lost in the planning and procrastinate with the actual doing.) OK. (Keep things simple so you don’t overwhelm yourself.) Sounds good. Oh, and I’ll try to practice gratitude and mindfulness as I go along. It should help keep things mostly positive and give me the occasional needed “hug”. (Wonderful idea! You can do it! Go get ‘em, tiger!) Really? Lol, thank you.

Note: Often when I journal I have a “conversation” with myself. (Cuckoo!) Quiet you! Anyway, I imagine speaking with a good friend/therapist so I pose both questions and answers. Sometimes I’m the “therapist” … helping a friend through a difficult time.

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