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‘I’m looking for work and not having a good time. When does life get easy?’

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Dear —

Thanks for your message.

I’m going to give it to you straight, alright?

I’m going to start with the second part of your message, because it’s what I call the ‘philosophical bit’.

Life isn’t meant to be ‘easy’ and you can’t expect it to get easy. Just because everyone’s on Facebook looking as if they’re having a wail of a time, doesn’t mean (a) they are and (b) the nature of existence has suddenly changed.

Life has always been hard – granted in different ways and at different times for different people. In fact, no one can really compare their walk through life with anyone else’s because everyone’s experience of life is so different.

But, it’s fair to say that as long as you draw breath, my friend, you’ll find life to be many things. It’s hard, long, short, unexpected, interesting, boring, routine, shocking, sad, lonely, happy, disappointing, majestic, brutal and bigger and smaller than you can possibly imagine. But ‘easy’? No. It wasn’t designed to be easy.

I understand why you might think it should be easy. Certain things in life seem come to us easily at times, don’t they? Of course, these vary from person to person, but for example, I write easily. Sometimes I think to myself ‘well if I find writing so easy, how come some other things in my life can’t be easy, too?’

This is as logical as saying, ‘ooh, the sky is blue, how come my head can’t be blue too?’

Exactly, it isn’t logical.

When I think like this, I catch myself and tell myself to grow up.

Existentially, we are entitled to nothing in life. Have a think about that – it’s a challenging thought and may help you to find gratitude in your situation.

Are you looking at yourself and comparing yourself to others? You never know about a life – whether it was easy or hard – even if it’s on the cover of Time magazine or Vogue. You can’t know what a person has been through, and you should never judge by what they say. There are ‘successful’ people I know who take a great photo surrounded by smiles and affluence, but have not a single trusted friend. Appearances are just that – what appears to be. Don’t use what appears to be true for others to create your own truth.

Lastly on that point, if you take life as a teacher, if it gave you nothing to struggle against, would you really know you were alive? If it didn’t force you to fly, would you ever spread your wings and try? Again, that’s for you to think about.

So, returning to your first point – looking for work can be one of the most grim, soul-destroying, awful experiences in life. Of course you’re not having ‘a good time’. This is probably because, like human beings, you don’t relish a string of rejections and not getting paid. There’s also the anxiety and uncertainty that accompanies this process. It can mean your mind is constantly occupied with worries and questions. It can mean you can’t afford the things that usually help make you happy, or happier. It can also be full of other people pressuring you and putting their expectations for you into the mix.

Here, I’ve found two contradictory things help. The first is to cut yourself some slack. Imagine you were your best friend. What things would you tell yourself about this time? How would you help your friend find work, and also take a break from the big quest? How would you treat your friend during this time? Learn how to treat yourself as a friend; because that’s a relationship that really will last a lifetime.

The second tactic is to reign in your brain – hard. Whenever you get a dark thought or feeling, stop it immediately – like you’d just found a fire you needed to extinguish. Don’t let dark thoughts smoulder. Every time your mind whispers ‘perhaps I’m not good enough to get a job’, or whatever it is that’ll make you feel like shit, tell it to fuck off. And do something instead – anything that’s positive – whether it’s 10 push-ups or getting your game up a level from ‘normal’ to ‘survivalist’.

If you haven’t tried this technique before, you’ll quickly learn that it’s hard to police your own thoughts. But if you succeed with this ‘stop it quick’ approach, you’ll at least have some peace of mind through this time. If you want to know more about it, Google ‘CBT techniques’ – let me know how you get on.

And as we all know, a peaceful mind, not stressed with worry or dark emotional thoughts, is like a flowerbed ready to plant good things in. Think about what you want to plant – in life, and in your mind. And know that this time will pass, because all times pass.

Now I don’t know when or if or where you’ll get a job. I only know one thing. And that is that as long as you are alive you have a purpose being here. It’s up to you to find it, and not to despair or compare. We’re all first-timers here; it’s okay to find it hard.

Good luck, and good sailing.

Greta

 

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