October 24, 2012 by cieramilo
“Don’t step out of the fight. Keep throwing it out there.” Life lessons from one of my trainers, Joel. He’s really just telling me not to step back when I’m tired of taking a beating from my opponent, not to turn my back, put my hands down, let my feet cross, or any number of things I do wrong as a beginner. I had to take a moment, not out of exhaustion (though I was exhausted), to take in the profundity of that statement. Don’t step out of the fight. Keep throwing it out there.
I realized, as I was beginning the process of training for this fight, that there was some existential reason for my involvement. As a former/eternal literature major, I just can’t help but orchestrate my life in some kind of dramatic motif. So obviously, I am somewhat aware of how this whole thing fits in with my post-graduate suffering. I’m making the metaphor super easy for you, because the story itself will get complicated enough as we go along.
I graduated in early August with a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Organizations (I think I told you…). During my program I had big dreams of starting an organization that assisted women in the sex industry who were possibly trafficked. I have been an advocate, volunteer coordinator, case worker, and public speaker for the cause against human trafficking for years; it’s where my passion lies I suppose. So it was an obvious choice to cater my degree to this kind of work. My good friend, Hillary, and I wrote a program design together in an effort to realize the dream of running a drop-in center and rescue/assessment home for women in this situation. And great news! That organization exists today! It is currently a program of the Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center of Atlanta and has already seen success! The heartbreak of it, though, is that I am not a part of it. Hillary rightfully got the position as case worker (aka program director) and is doing a fantastic job of holding down the fort singlehandedly. I was not afforded a position and thus the job search began.
In a world inundated with the term “unemployment” and “outsourcing,” I do not have to tell you that the job hunt is hard these days. Real. Damn. Hard. “They” say it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to find an entry level job in your field. “They” tell you this to prepare you for the blunt force trauma of unemployment, but it does little to ward of the concussion. You’re broke. I mean real broke. Running on empty (I literally put $5 of gas in my car this morning because that’s all I had to give my dry tank). “Getting on by the skin of your teeth” is a really apt saying for how it feels to budget every cent in your account up to the last hour of the month and pay period. My teeth are hurting just thinking about it.
But you do what you have to do. You stay in the fight.
I put out about 5 applications per week now. I was at 40/week at the beginning of the search, but something about the radio silence at the other end is more disheartening than the “No’s.” I have had some leads and a few Americorps offers, but nothing really edible yet. I currently work at a local market as a “sales associate” to make ends meet. Those ends are increasingly distant from one another at the end of every month, and the effort it takes not to be ashamed of my full-time part-time is almost as exhausting as 3 hours of training.
Every trainer tells me that when you get into the ring, not matter how much training you’ve had, your arms feel like lead, you’re exhausted before you even start, and you feel ready to throw up at any moment. It’s biologically the adrenaline drop, but biology can kiss my ass when I’m trying to knock this girl out. But I feel like the 12.1 Million unemployed folks (including myself) in this country can take something from Joel’s advice. Don’t step back. Keep throwing it out there. And…you’re doing ok! I’m not promoting the “everyone gets a trophy for playing” load of bull, I’m saying that somewhere, in this dreamland we call America, hard work pays off. Your arms will feel like lead, you may puke all over yourself, but just keep throwing it out there.
I promise that not all of my posts will be motivational. Trust me.