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"You should have never quit a job without one lined up."
On the insensitive things people have said to me during this job hunt.
I’ve stopped giving details or play-by-plays of my job search online and in most conversations. Too many times a conversation meant to serve as motivation left me feeling ashamed, frustrated, or insulted. We as humans don’t always know the right things to say when attempting to comfort one another and instead of admitting that, we often say the wrong things. I am guilty of it too. Thinking that what I was saying or had said was the right thing in the moment only to learn that I actually caused more distress or frustration and no inspiration.
I felt compelled to write this not to make anyone feel bad, especially if you’ve said any of these things to me, but to implore us all to take a second and truly think about what we say before speaking. Especially when speaking to someone who is already in a fragile emotional or mental state. Rarely ever is anything said to me with ill intentions, but impact trumps intentions sometimes and I’m a delicate one these days.
“You should’ve never quit a job without one lined.”
In 2020 I was accepted to and started my master’s program, was officially diagnosed with bipolar disorder and weaned off two medications, and started another, unexpectedly conceived and had a horrible pregnancy and a traumatic emergency c-section, worked for one of the biggest global consulting firms, and decided to end a dead and emotionally damaging relationship. Life has been on a continuous downward spiral since and to say that by 2022 I was completely burnt out would be a gross understatement. I wrestled daily with mental and physical illness as well as continuous thoughts to end my life. The work I was doing was not work I was passionate about and I unfortunately kept finding myself on the most misaligned projects after maternity leave and there was just no way I could continue to stay and stay alive. I did not have the energy to immediately start a job search, and I had about five months of expenses in the bank. I could not have predicted that the market would turn as it did and that the field I got my masters in just so happened to be the field most impacted with a 70% decrease in new job postings.
I quit my job in August of 2022, after extending that date by three months to help finish the project I was on at the time. I began actively searching in October of 2022. One year later I have submitted hundreds of applications, had dozens of phone screenings and interviews, and got to the final stage of three roles, and still… nothing. My still being unemployed has very little to do with the fact that I had no job lined up and everything to do with this unpredictable decline. And because of the mass layoffs happening, I’m certain I would have been on the chopping block anyway being new to a company needing to downsize.
“Now is not the time to be picky.”
I’m not being picky. I’m just not voluntarily putting myself into a position to be misaligned and burnt out again. Also, I still have the same expenses (even after scaling back) that I had on my previous salary. Accepting roles that are just under or over half of what I was making will be me adding more stress to my plate, struggling to get by, and having no time or energy to search for the right role.
Insinuating I’m on vacation.
Go to Paris once, using miles, while unemployed and suddenly you just wanted time off. *insert eye-roll emoji here* If ALL that I have experienced during this time of unemployment is considered a vacation, I promise to never take one again.
“Why don’t you just get something out of your field or interests?”
I’m either being told I’m not experienced enough, too experienced, or a flight risk for when something more aligned comes alone.
“Shooot I don’t see how you walked away from six figures.”
It’s easy once you think of what it all boils down to. A six-figure salary is of no use to me if I am not alive to spend it. I can’t even say it would be useful for Ava after I’m gone because, if I’m not mistaken, suicide voids out most life insurance policies, no? And even if it didn’t, that money would eventually run out and she would still not have her mother physically present.
“Have you tried lower-level positions?”
Yes. And they tell me that I’m overqualified. Most automatically reject my application before I can even explain to a recruiter that I am aware that I am overqualified and still want to be considered.
“Can’t you just go back to Deloitte?”
At the very beginning of my search, I almost did. In an internal capacity, doing work I was passionate about, but I was strung along at the end of the process, lied to by the recruiter, and they ultimately went with another candidate. I do still have connections that I could utilize to go back into the work I was doing but that work and most of those environments I was doing it in were slowly killing me. I’d rather take myself out than go back in the same capacity.
“I’ve been competing with you financially and now I can catch up.”
This was said by a former friend who celebrated the fact that my credit score had decreased. While I know they did not have ill intentions, it hurt deeply to know they had knowledge of how important financial security is to me and in that moment chose to celebrate my decline because it put us in more closely aligned financial standings. It was also not a very fair “competition” for either of us. Them, because they suffered hardships throughout their life that impacted their ability to have financial security and I had privileges that paved the way for mine. It was unfair to me because I’m sure that self-imposed pressure to compete with me often clouded their judgment of my actions or intentions when it came to certain financial matters. And since I was in the dark, I had no knowledge of it. It was almost as if they were celebrating my financial downfall.
From these experiences, I’ve learned that certain things will just stay between my safe circle and me. When someone asks how the job search is going now, I answer very generally. “Still looking, it’s a tough market right now. I’ll be sure to update you when I find something!”
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