This morning in toying with the idea of moving to Atlanta, I searched and applied for jobs there. Whether or not we move (and it is a serious consideration!), this process of looking back and listing my accomplishments of the past six years is a very life-affirming one! And it reminds me of when I was applying for my first job as a dietitian six years ago. In fact, this morning while I was searching for an old resume of mine for the description of my food service-related positions in college, I came across tens, if not hundreds, of emails from 2011, when I forwarded myself job applications from various websites.
It seems that this past couple of weeks is all about blasts from the past. First it was in hearing stories about my father as a medical student, then it was about my college graduation and its cosmic connection to my father’s death. This week, it is about my search for my first dietitian job.
Looking at all the job application information I sent myself back in early 2011, I was reminded of how stressful that whole job application process was. Applying for one’s first job is very hard, since many employers are seeking someone with more experience—but how can we get any if no one first hires us?
As someone who likes knowing what their future holds and works hard to achieve their ambitions, this period was very tough for me. The following questions stormed my mind: Where will I end up? How can I know if I am working hard enough in the application process? Will I end up in a job that deep down I don’t want, but need to take in order to gain more experience in the field?
In applying for my first job, I was full of feelings of inadequacy and fear of the unknown. It was all very destabilizing for me and my heightened negative self-talk reflected that. I do not deal with transitions very well. I like stability; I like being on the ball! And, as I discuss in my new book, First Comes Self-Love, Then Comes Marriage, instead of fully facing the intensity of the negative emotions, I escaped into unhealthy relationships to distract myself and seek out instant gratification. Unfortunately, in that scenario, and in others to come, momentary pleasures led to lifelong regrets.
After I landed my first job as a dietitian, my primary piece of advice to others in the job hunt was to give themselves that which I had overlooked: self-care. I didn’t realize it at the time, but in order to face the discomfort of the uncertainty of my reality, I would have had to counter it with self-compassion. To watch some of my favorite movies, indulge in more mind-centering yoga and meditation, eat some of my favorite foods. I needed to be kinder to myself when the world around me felt more chaotic than ever.