The entirety of the last 6 months of my life has turned out to be one gigantic learning experience about the effects of stress and how much of it I can physically handle. No, not intentionally. And no, it was not a welcome experiment either. Life takes unexpected turns, and it’s our job to deal with whatever is thrown our way. I just happen to not be very good at it.
Earlier this year, my boyfriend got a job in a very large, very major city. Having come from a tiny hometown, and an only slightly larger college town, I welcomed the move. I got myself excited for the move by convincing myself that it would be a good change, because a bigger city meant more opportunity. I was stuck in a job I didn’t want or like after college, because it’s all that was available to me, and the size of the town didn’t really allow for much growth or change once you got situated in one field. So I told myself moving would be a new start for me. I would move, I would start grad school, and I would land a job that was relevant to what I wanted to do with my life.
After graduating college a few years ago, it took me a whopping two weeks to find employment. Granted, the job wasn’t a dream job, but honestly—there was nothing else out there in that particular location. So anyway, two measly weeks. And yes, I am well aware of how incredibly lucky I was to find a job that quickly after graduating. It was amazing. And rewarding. And terrifying. And the longest 2 weeks of my life (at that point).
Coming back to the most recent 6 months of my life, my boyfriend and I had decided to move to this behemoth of a city and get a new start. We both were convinced it would be good for me, and for both of us, and give me more choices and opportunities for work. He knew how unhappy I was at my last job, and he was just as excited about it as I was. We moved here with hopeful hearts and boxes full of optimism, ready and raring to find me a job.
And that job, it didn’t come.
For months it didn’t come.
Long, dragging, endless months.
My previous job paid enough for rent, bills, and groceries, and that’s about all. I was somehow able to put away a microscopic amount into savings, which is what I have been living on these past months. But to have no income, no prospects of income, to send out god knows how many applications and get rejected or ignored from almost all of them, that is not a nice feeling.
Then I got accepted into graduate school, and started wondering where the money would come from for tuition. We rented a house, and I became even more concerned for rent and bills. The groceries, the gas, the ever growing AC bill down here in the South. It all added up in the blink of an eye, and I was left pinching all the pennies still left to my name and wondering how I would possibly do anything if I didn’t find a job soon. How could I start school not knowing if I could follow through with the payments? What would I do if my job prospects remained this grim?
Granted, I am living with my boyfriend. He knew going in that I would need monetary help if I couldn’t find a job immediately (which, to be a little cocky here, I kind of thought I would be able to do…talk about learning to be humble!). But I’m the kind of person who doesn’t want help. I take it grudgingly, with 200% intent of paying whoever it is that’s helping me back. I’m prideful and find satisfaction in providing for myself and being able to make it on my own, and I just wasn’t able to, which killed me. For 6 months. It was a blow to my pride and to my optimism and to my health.
Here’s a little bit of what my schedule was like at this time:
Wake up when the boyfriend goes to work
Brain break—read a book, watch TV for an hour or so.
(Really, take a brain break if you’re in this situation as well. I can’t tell you how much it helps to step away from the job applications)
Job search some more until the boyfriend got home
Sleep, Coffee, Repeat.
I couldn’t believe the toll that it took on me. Stress effects the body so much, even if you’re not “actively stressed” as I claimed to be. I wasn’t sitting around all day wondering where the money would come from, adding up my bills in my head until I cried, or wallowing in hopelessness. I repressed all of that. I woke up, searched and applied for jobs, did what needed to be done without dwelling on the negatives of my situation.
But that doesn’t lessen the effect of stress AT ALL.
I was sick to my stomach, daily. I had migraines, several times a week. I got pressure headaches, daily, which I honestly think came from trying to push away the thoughts of hopelessness about my unemployment. I got dizzy frequently. My joints hurt. My ears ached. My stomach constantly ached.
But perseverance does pay off. It’s now the end of August, I started grad school on Monday, and I start my new job next week. It took me the better part of half a year to find this job, compared to the measly 2 weeks it took me after graduating college.
The day that I got this job offer, all of those symptoms started to dissipate. I woke up the next morning and had no stomach problems. I had no headaches. And it’s been that way since then. All of my physical problems, problems which I was convinced did not come from stress (remember, I wasn’t “actively stressed”) were suddenly gone once the source of my subconscious worrying was gone. I had been wondering what was wrong with me, to feel so sick all the time, kept telling myself that it couldn’t be stress because I wasn’t dwelling on my problems. But it was.
I know that, although my situation was not good, there are countless others out there experiencing much worse. Without the support of loved ones, without places to live, without the education that I have. I can’t imagine being in a worse position than I was, though I know many people are in a worse place than I can even comprehend, and many deal with bad situations for years or even a lifetime. I know that my situation doesn’t hold a candle to things that others go through around the world.
But here is what I want you to know:
Good luck in your lives, precious people! We’re all on this crazy ride together.
because i die laughing
eeny meeny miny mo
to the bookshelf, here i go!
what of hundreds shall i choose?
give me more time to peruse…
on this bottom shelf I see
aldous huxley, you’re the best
and in this job search brain fried mess
let’s see if i can spend some time
in this empty house of mine
escaping unemployment hell.
but i should be job searching….
Just kidding. We don’t. We have the opposite of a problem. We have NEWS!!!
Y’all, if you’ve ever read my blog, you know I struggled for awhile with moving forward with grad school and just life in general. Doubt is crippling a lot of times, but once you move past it, you just keep on moving. I’m so excited to start grad school in a few weeks, and I’m so excited that I’ve moved out of the town I was living in! You never know what could be if you keep yourself in the same old situation all the time. But here I am, about to start working towards my master’s degree, and living in a big city with big opportunities!
Life is good, you guys.
The blogging, it has returned.