During a discussion today on job searching and being resilient, a student said: “It doesn’t seem fair when one person has only looked for a job for a short time, and they get it, but some people look for a lot longer, and it seems like they are never going to find a job.”
Her sentiments echoes many a graduate’s woes. I asked her, “Would you trade places with that person — trade lives with them? Would you rather be that person?” Of course, she wouldn’t.
But it did bring up a topic that I went on to expound on then, and I will lay it out again now, because I think it’s worth considering in our own lives.
I don’t know why it rains on the poor and not the wealthy. I don’t understand why some people in life have a tougher time than others. My best friend once said to me, “I don’t know why your life is always as hard and frustrating as it is.” She said it to validate my own sorrow over losing my second marriage. Believe it or not, it gave me peace — someone could see that it wasn’t just me. That my life seemed disproportionately unjust.
But here’s the silver lining we’ve been told to heed: it’s my life. My journey. I own each step. So as hard as it has been some days, it’s all mine, and no one else gets credit for it.
In 2008, I tried to re-enter the workforce. I’d been out of it for two years, had stayed home over summers to care for my stepsons (which totally rocked as they are awesome kids). But we were broke, and my husband couldn’t hold down a job. Easy enough, I figured, and I sent out resumes like a mad woman. I heard nothing back. So I sent out more.
Two years. Two years of job scouting and resume updating. Two years of trying to find anything to pay the bills. I picked up a contract position inspecting foreclosed homes. During that time, I was shot at, threaten, chased by dogs, and terrified in a high-speed car chase. I was barely feeding my family.
We couldn’t afford heat. That large oil container sat nearly dry, and I paid $10/mo. at the gym to shower. WalMart was my only shopping event, and even that was painful. The food bank and the dollar aisle became my best friends. I went through nearly two winters in a cold house.
I fought some dark demons in those days, and lost faith in myself. But somewhere along that path, I met a woman who had graduated with her MFA, and that laid a seed in my brain. It sounded glamorous and beautiful and purposeful. Everything my life wasn’t. So somewhere in the melee of misery, I applied to an MFA program, and I was accepted.
It changed my life.
I met artists, creators, graphic artists, wordsmiths, poets. They challenged my thinking and my logic. It made me a new person, with talents and skills.
I learned to believe in myself.
I met a man who has been the rock in my world long before we fell in love. And I’ve made friends who’ve made me laugh and grin like a fool.
Had I gotten that job in 2008 — if the economy hadn’t crashed and my resume hadn’t been so awful — I never would have gone to school. I would have kept going down that path. I would have paid the bills and stayed in a marriage that was sucking my soul dry. I might have resisted investigating my digestive problems, and it might have taken me even longer to discover my celiac disease. I might not have cleaned up my eating and gotten myself to a place in life where I genuinely value me.
Because this is my journey. And my journey is damn difficult some days. But it’s mine. And without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I wouldn’t trade one footstep with anyone else.
It’s your journey. It’s the path your soul needs to take before it returns to whatever lies beyond. There’s a lesson in there that, no matter how painful, will allow you to reach out to others, and give back in powerful ways that only YOU can. Because of that journey.
Your journey will change your life if you choose to let it. Or it can drag you down into the mires of despair.