Ever since finishing my master’s degree, the expectation that I find a job has been at an all-time high. However, initially finding a job wasn’t on my radar. I had saved up some money and decided to move to Gozo for three months and worked in a scuba diving shop. After Gozo I travelled around Thailand and upon my return to the U.K I was all set and getting ready to pursue my Lord of the Rings fantasy with a working holiday visa in New Zealand. 2020 was supposed to be the year of travel and exploration but as we all know by now the world slowly turned to face the threat of COVID-19 and one by one we all began to lock down. So where did this new lock-down leave me and countless other people in similar positions of unemployment?
As the job market shrank, so did hopes of finding full-time work. However, even though times seem bleak, being unemployed during a pandemic has actually taught me a lot and I thought I would share these words with others in the hope that they may help people who are struggling.
Don’t judge yourself or your success by other people’s standards
This has been a big challenge for me during lockdown. At the beginning of lockdown, I was ashamed of having no work and constantly berated myself about what my friends and family would think of me. I was continuously judging myself and measuring myself against all of my friends who have jobs, their own flats, their own relationships and a life plan, largely unaffected by COVID-19. I felt like where everyone else was moving forward in life, I was moving backwards. I was back at home with my parents, I applied for every job that became available and when each one led to nothing I became increasingly dejected. The more dejected I felt, the more I would measure myself against others and overall it led to a spiral of self-doubt and a dark period of self-loathing.
However, one day I woke up and thought ‘no more’ and I sat down to write and in writing I found joy and success that had previously eluded me. I began to be motivated again and thought to myself that with no work I shall make my own. As a lover of history, I decided that I would put my Classics degrees to good use and started to run my own blog. From that came freelance writing for history websites and blogs and slowly I began to feel a sense of achievement. To some this may seem trivial, but to me it became a lifeline. I respected myself again and began to emerge from the period of self-doubt with a new attitude and I realised just how damaging it is to constantly judge and measure yourself against others. I began to understand that success is individual and unique; what is successful for others may not be successful for me and vice versa and importantly that is ok!
To anyone reading this who may feel like what they are doing isn’t enough, or that they aren’t enough – stop, take a moment and remind yourself that what you are doing is great. Don’t feel the need to seek validation from others and don’t judge yourself harshly if your success doesn’t look like everyone else’s. If you find yourself feeling low, unmotivated and unsuccessful, that is ok and you are not alone. It may not feel like these feelings will pass but they will. Tune into something you love, take time to explore thoughts and avenues you may have previously been too busy to look into. Relax and remember that you are more than enough and what you are doing is more than enough. In the immortal words of Tesco ‘every little helps’ so keep walking even if it is just one step at a time, you’ll get there; we all will.