The summer of 2013 will go down as one of the most emotionally tormenting of my life.
Knowing that I’d be graduating with my M.A. in May, I started applying to jobs late February/early March, [arrogantly] anticipating that I’d be employed by May or June at the latest.
I was excited to see how many employers would come knocking at my door. I was excited to be presented with 501135 job choices, having to send “Sorry” emails to contenders who didn’t quite meet my high standards. I made a spreadsheet, I checked Monster, CareerBuilder, idealist, etc., day after day, revising my résumé, saving 5015125156 versions of my cover letter, and asking everybody I knew (and their mothers. Literally.) if there were any leads. I was pumped. This was going to happen. I’d be employed. Then I’d be rich. Then I’d save the world. In that order.
One job application turned into 15, which turned into 50, and by the beginning of August, I applied to roughly 100 jobs. I stopped using my fancy spreadsheet by the end of June, discouraged and depressed.
People would reach out to me and ask me what I was looking for. Former professors, acquaintances, family members, and friends all asked me what I was looking for. My broad answer was usually, “something in the nonprofit sector, working with young people, maybe foster kids.” I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do. The jobs I was applying for fit into no particular category. I toyed with the idea of student affairs for a while, but I didn’t get my M.A. in that, so it was hard. I applied to a handful of res life jobs. I applied to dozens of jobs in the nonprofit sector. Administrative positions. Direct service. Social services. Counseling. Social work. Why the hell did I go back to school? I was applying to all these jobs, and nothing quite stood out to me. Here and there, I’d get excited and would pray for a call back. But most of the jobs I applied to just felt like I was going through the motions. Like I was a broke college grad eager to earn a paycheck doing nearly anything.
I distinctly remember considering prostitution and/or drug dealing sometime in June. It was that serious. Of the nearly 100 jobs I applied for, I went through about 10 phone screenings/phone interviews, and sat down for about 7 actual interviews. That’s a small percentage, folks.
In June, I hit a wall. I was depressed. I was sleeping all the time. I was crying. I was mean to my family. I was hopeless. I felt under-qualified, undeserving, and just confused. People continued to ask me how they could help and what I was looking for and I just didn’t know. Or maybe I was just too afraid to say it out loud. Because I know that for the last few years, I’ve had my heart set on aspects of volunteer management. But I was afraid to put it out into the universe because I was afraid of failing.
By early July, I’d mastered a completely vague, but entirely precise answer to those who asked what I was looking for. It went something like this, “I don’t know what I want to do, but I do know that when I read the job description, I’ll know that’s what I want to do.” Doh. I bet people walked away just laughing hysterically at my naïveté, but that was okay, because it was the most genuine and honest answer I could muster. I knew I wanted to do good, I knew I’d probably be happiest in the nonprofit world, but beyond that, I couldn’t think of a job title that matched what made me light up inside.
Through those summer months of job searching, I’d hear from close friends and family over and over that it would all work out, that I had to be patient, that I would eventually end up exactly where I belonged. I believed it, but it was hard. Bills stacked up, debt increased, and days just flew by as the light at the end of the tunnel seemed to be running further and further away from me.
I applied for a job with Jesuit Volunteer Corps to be a Program Coordinator. In short, the job required me to be a support person, a relationship manager, and a volunteer manager. It was perfect. I was excited. I felt like I met all the qualifications, and then some. When I thought that the time frame for the job had passed, and I didn’t get that golden Second Interview, I sunk deeper into my depressed state. Why wasn’t I good enough? Why don’t people like me? What is it about my lack of skills? What can I do to make someone want to hire me?
At the same time I was waiting to hear back about the JVC job, I applied to a job at my alma mater. It wasn’t a fabulous job, and I was super over-qualified for it, but I felt like it was my only other option.
Anyway….I’m tired of reliving those dark days. Let me jump to the good stuff.
I was convinced I’d get either the LMU job or the JVC job. Convinced. I was sure one or the other (but probably both because I’m fabulous like that) would work out and that I’d be employed soon. Early August, I was riding a dangerous wave of confidence. I’m not sure how it happened, but I guess God spoke to me, and I was listening, and I was sure something was going to happen very soon.
Tomorrow, I start my first day at JVC. It’s been a whirlwind. In the last 2.5 weeks (ish), I was offered my dream job, which I consider more of a career, and I have since moved 350 miles from home.
I’m sitting here in my host’s house, thinking (for the 672019th time) about how lucky I am. The last few weeks, I’ve felt endlessly blessed, humbled, and just damn lucky. God made me wait. He pushed me down so that I could get off my high horse, so I could taste humility again (because, let’s be honest, I was sure that agencies would be pushing each other down to hire me), and make me learn to be patient and really assess what was important to me, what was valuable to me. At the end of the day, I do understand that all that time I spent waiting, looking, searching, wondering, crying, was invaluable. It was invaluable because, now, more than ever, I’m assured that this is where I am meant to be. This is where I have been called, where God wants me, and this is where I’m going to make the most of it.
What makes this amazing, though, is that this is exactly where I’ve always wanted to be. And I didn’t even know it. Or, better, I didn’t even allow myself to want it. My fear of failure, my fear of the unknown, my fear of change, all enabled me to suppress one of my biggest dreams, yet, God knew all along. And it feels great.
I don’t know what I did in a past life to be so fucking lucky, but, trust me, I am aware of how blessed I have been in this life, and I intend to only pay it forward. You have my word.
My childhood was rough. My teenage years were almost as hard. And since then, it’s been no looking back. I was meant to go to LMU and become immersed in social justice and faith. I was meant to be a Marian. I was meant to live in community my sophomore, junior, and senior years. I was meant to do Good Shepherd Volunteers. I was meant to spend time at Five Acres. I was meant to go back to LMU for grad school. I was meant to have met Tom King, Antonia Darder, Lorena Chavez, Daniel Hannon, Jon Alvarez, Vivian Troche, Yari Betancourt, etc. Everything has been so meticulously planned out. I trust that my anxiety over the years has not been in vain, but it’s amazing to just look back and see how clearly my path was carved out. And I thank God. I thank God for his generosity, for his love, for his faith in me, for all of this.
The last few weeks, all I’ve been able to think about is just how amazing a life I’ve led. It has not been a life without struggle and pain and heartache and confusion and hurt and scars. But it has been a beautiful life and it has only been getting brighter.
Amazing. Thank you. I acknowledge all this is yours. And I only intend to do good by you.
I need to end with this photo I saw on Instagram today:
And, my favorite quote of all time (I think):