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Question 6

Has your emotional well-being been affected by your situation?

Photo prompt #6: Your greatest source of stress.

People often refute the idea that you are what you do. It seems superficial to be defined by your job. But I think it depends on how you look at it. If your job is a means to get by, then it’s not who you are.

If your job is your passion and you love what you do, then it is part of your life’s purpose. If you are fortunate enough to be successful or highly content in your chosen profession, then you’re fulfilling your life’s purpose and therefore it is a big part of your identity.

When you’re unemployed, like me, or at a job that is not related to your interests, then you lose sight of what your talents are because they’re not being utilized. Or maybe, like me, you still don’t have a clear understanding of what your talents are because a job hasn’t come along to unlock those qualities.

I try to have a positive attitude about what I have yet to accomplish, but outside forces make it difficult. The slow hiring trends and the national unemployment statistics that are reported exactly mirrors what we are all personally experiencing and that’s what makes it real — they’re not just numbers.

I often get caught up with comparing myself to other 25- or 26 year-olds and how much they’ve accomplished
so far. But I know that kind of thinking is self-destructive and that each person has their own unique set of attributes and skills to contribute.

Nowadays you have to create your own career trajectory and what that means for young people like me is not just having a plan B, but a plan C, plan D, and maybe even a plan E. It might mean having to take on a second job. It might mean being flung to a random city in the Midwest because that’s where the jobs are, even though you have your heart set on New York or Philly or Boston.

But it’s all on you — you have to make the contacts, you have to maintain those contacts, cultivate those
important career relationships, and no headhunter or staffing agency is going to do that for you.

I have faith in my ability to create the future that I want, but I worry about wasted time. I hope I have the courage to make immediate sacrifices for those long-term goals. It’s easy to declare your dreams and aspirations to the world, but another thing entirely to make them happen with economic forces working against you.

I don’t feel any more or less capable than I did when I was in college.

I have experienced emotional stress from my situation in the past, but now I just feel motivated by that stress. I can’t attribute that improvement in my psyche to any one thing in particular, aside from the desire to be on my own — financial independence and making my own decisions has begun to far outweigh the comfort of being at home and not having to pay bills while I figure it out.

I feel ready to take that risk even if it means discovering a new kind of misery.

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