If you know me, you know that I have multiple jobs. 4 jobs, to be exact. I have 2 part-time jobs and 2 freelance jobs. I’m also a full-time graduate student. Why I insist on taking on such a heavy workload is beyond me. Perhaps it’s the appeal of knowing that this load will make me too busy to focus my attention on my anxiety. Or maybe it’s because I feel more valuable when I am busy with a multitude of to-dos on my list. It could be both.
And if you know me, you know that I am extremely unhappy at one of my part-time jobs. It’s the job that I have had for almost two years now, working as an administrative graduate assistant. When I first started the position, I was bright-eyed and completely passionate about the job. I was tasked with important duties like advising and working with students to pursue their dreams of accessing higher education. The job is still a support role for that endeavor, but the environment and structure has shifted dramatically in just a short amount of time.
Going through therapy the past few months, some of the revelations I’ve had include recognizing the value of my work, the type of work environments I thrive in, and the types of career paths that are suitable for achieving my goals in life. I have a long track record of jobs, both in professional settings and in temporary part-time gigs, where I either felt unfulfilled or I was exploited by an oppressive environment. Therefore, grasping these revelations and embracing them as I continue down my career path, has helped me feel more prepared for life without school.
However, one issue I have lately encountered is the job search process and having to combat my ever-present anxiety. Job searching and preparing application materials is the time where it is almost mandatory to brag about your work experiences and accomplishments. Realizing that bragging, even in its humblest form, or talking about myself in a positive light is a frightful feat, has made the job searching process a challenge.
So this is where I’ve been using mantras of positive reinforcement. Because anxiety creeps in when I least expect it, I’m finding that to quell these thoughts, I must become aware that they are happening and then try to counteract the thoughts by coming up with something positive. For example, yesterday morning I woke up with positive thoughts about the opportunities that lay ahead for me for the rest of the day. Then, out of nowhere, I started second-guessing and doubting my ability to be competent, to be good enough, and to meet everyone’s expectations. As soon as this happened, I started telling myself, “I’m aware that there are many problematic issues I’m experiencing both at work and internally, but I cannot allow myself to start believing that I am not capable of handling difficult issues. I am capable, competent, and valuable.” I repeated this to myself over and over again, meditated, and then felt a little bit better about the day afterwards.
I wasn’t a big believer in mindfulness practice before this experience, but since I’ve integrated the mantras, meditations, and grounding with therapy, I have noticed that mindfulness helping me to overcome my anxiety. Although I wouldn’t say that life has been easier because of the practice or therapy, I can confidently say that there has been a shift in my experience in recognizing my confidence and abilities.
The job search and holding space for my anxiety is still something I’m working through on a daily basis, but knowing that I am capable of doing just that alone gives me hope that I’m well on my way to finding the job that works for me.