Tiffany Farber is a solo practitioner who has been practicing law since 2008. As someone who has been through transition in her career, she understands the challenges lawyers in this situation face.
Monty Python teaches us to, “always look on the bright side of life,” but what happens when we just don’t feel like looking on the bright side? In my non-expert opinion, acknowledging your crummy feelings is important. If you take the “fake it ’til you make it” position in life, it’s likely that you will erupt one day.
You shouldn’t feel guilty if your friend gets a job and you are jealous. You shouldn’t feel stupid if you get upset by a rejection letter. It’s okay to feel those things; you are not the first or the last to feel them. We all deal with our feelings differently. Some of us run 8 miles, some of us cry, some of us ball the letter up and throw it on the floor. The important thing is to try and strike a balance between experiencing negative feelings and wallowing in them.
If you aren’t able to pick yourself up and dust yourself off, then you may need a little bit of help. Sometimes talking with a friend or partner can help you feel supported. There are also informal groups of job seekers out there, like the one that I run, that allow you the chance to vent to other people who are in the same boat as you are. You can also set a goal for yourself that is completely separate from your job search, like running a race or organizing a room in your house. My goal for this month is to write a short story, and this goal has nothing to do with my life as an attorney.
When you talk with folks who remind you that you are more than a job, you will feel better. If you engage in activities that are separate from your job search, you will feel well-rounded. I have a friend who volunteers to pet sick cats at the animal shelter. It is a simple activity that puts her in a good place emotionally.
I completely understand the knee jerk reaction you may feel when someone tells you to, “just be thankful for all the great things you have going on in your life.” Even with Thanksgiving fast approaching, you may want to kick that person. Just remember that it’s okay to feel whatever it is you are feeling, even if you have a lot to be thankful for. Humans are complex creatures with complex emotions.
The simple truth is, unless you take care of your psyche, you will feel terrible and it will be evident. A bad attitude follows you around like a low hanging cloud, and sometimes it’s hard to get that cloud to dissipate.
If you feel like singing the blues, sing them until you feel better. Once you feel better, see if you can anchor that feeling for a while. No matter what your job search trials and tribulations are, you are still charged with the duty of taking care of yourself.