I am a recent 2020 graduate. Being freshly graduated at a time like this and jobless makes me feel like I have no purpose. I don’t know what to do with my life now that I am not in school. I have noticed a lot of my fellow graduate friends have been having similar fears and struggles. Dealing with a sense of aimlessness and having little to look forward to on the horizon can be a demoralizing feeling. Due to coronavirus, many of us feel like our lives have been put on hold for the foreseeable future. As someone new to the job market and seeking employment, it is easy for anxiety and powerlessness to impact you. I can’t say that I always cope with negative feelings perfectly. However, I have developed some healthy strategies to approach the uncertainty of this unique time.

In order to dig myself out of a post graduate existential hole when I’m feeling down, I try to focus on self-compassion. Key ways that I exercise self-compassion are by combating my intrusive thoughts with logic. For example, when my brain starts to tell me that I am a failure and I will never find a job, I take a step back. I try to reframe my thoughts by affirming myself and saying: I am not a failure just because I don’t have a job right now. This is a pandemic and the economy is not doing well. If I keep at it, I will get a job eventually.

Focus on self-compassion.

Another way I show compassion for myself is through self-care. I try to give myself plenty of breaks throughout the day and do little things that feed my body and soul. For example, I will often light a candle and read for a while or do a face mask. These small things allow me to de-stress.

Setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound) also has been game-changing for me. I can often get overwhelmed when I try to finish a big task all in one day. Now, instead, I choose to find smaller, more manageable goals to try and complete each day. That way, I can check more things off of my to do list and feel a sense of accomplishment. Another way I motivate is through giving myself strict time deadlines. I often set a timer for 30 minutes or so and try to focus for that short window of time to do uninterrupted work. It helps me work intensely for a little while and then take a break. 

In terms of productivity, I don’t always have perfect days. I do try and do at least one thing that feels productive each day though. That may mean submitting one job application or taking a shower, it varies. I try to be gentle with myself because I know my mental health has suffered due to coronavirus and a lack of social interaction. Being proud of the little accomplishments really helps me feel like I am staying on track. In my mind, this current time is all about finding the small joys in life and acknowledging them.    

We are all making it up as we go along.

For anyone going through the job search as a 2020 graduate or otherwise and feeling defeated, know that you aren’t alone. It can feel hopeless, but it really is a game of perseverance. Something I have been trying to tell myself also is to not count myself out before I have tried. Sometimes I look at job descriptions and immediately feel intimidated and like I’m not good enough for the job as a recent graduate. However, that mentality is self-defeatist. If you’re interested in a job, go for it. Chase your dreams. By not applying you only guarantee you won’t get the opportunity. Trying is worth it and you are probably more qualified than you give yourself credit for. 

For anyone feeling lost right now, it’s okay to feel that way and you are valid. Believe it or not, most people don’t have things figured out. We are all making it up as we go along. Just be gentle with yourself and believe that you have something to offer the world. Keeping your confidence up during the job search can be difficult, but it is worth your time and energy to try. You have to believe in yourself in order to project that confidence to others.

  • Maggie Mahoney

    Maggie Mahoney is an editorial fellow based in Washington D.C. She is a soon to be graduating senior at American University studying Literature with a minor in Communications. Maggie is passionate about poetry, elementary education, blogging, and R&B music. She loves to cook and try new cuisines and considers herself a textbook Virgo.