This feature was written by freelance writer S.J. Lewis
Back in March we launched the hunt for Go Think Big’s new blogger. We wanted to find someone who could voice all the hard, infuriating and challenging parts of job hunting faced by young people, and make us laugh too. Three finalists were shortlisted from over a hundred applicants, and you, the readers of Go Think Big, selected S.J.’s blog post as your favourite. Check out her latest post below…
If there is one thing I know for certain, it’s that things often don’t go to plan. I now consider myself an expert of failure, and a master of mediocrity. My expectations are so low, I’m surprised when I don’t miss the bus. Whether you’ve failed at an interview, didn’t get on to the course you wanted, or have just been dumped; we all get disappointed and face set-backs. In these situations it’s easy to drown your sorrows at the pub or attack a Tesco’s Finest family-sized tiramisu with your bare hands. Therefore I think it is only right I share my alternative steps to pick yourself back up off up the floor, and get on with life when it isn’t going your way…
1. Congratulate yourself
Firstly, remember you have in fact succeeded at something, you’ve succeeded at being ‘bad’, and this should be celebrated. Continue this celebration by liberally indulging in something else you suck at. I’m terrible at art and I often wish I was better as I find slapping paint freely across a page very therapeutic. I describe my creations as being ‘like art, but not’. Actively allowing yourself to be terrible at something is a fantastic distraction from your previous failure(s) and will help put it in perspective.
2. Set a timer
Sarah Millican once described in an interview her method of setting a time limit on her feelings about her stand-up gigs. However she feels, (good or bad) she allows herself to feel that way until a specific time the next day. It’s perfectly acceptable to not be happy, and you have to allow yourself time to experience natural emotions. However you don’t want to wallow, so if you’re upset about something, pick a reasonable time in the future (e.g. 5pm tomorrow) and tell yourself you will have gotten over it by this point.
3. Stop caring
We all care far too much about what other people think. Some businesses will offer discounts to unemployed people, such as my local community sports centre. But when I declare my unwaged status, I tend to get looked at as if I just offered to punch them in the jugular. People are very quick to judge and the unemployed are an easy target, often brandished as ‘scroungers’. In the past, this has put me off asking for the things I need, but nowadays I take a deep breath and refuse to care.
4. Quit something
You can’t build an Instagram empire, and get into Oxford, and become an Olympic gymnast, so let yourself off the hook. I recently found an online course and decided to learn Latin. Ten minutes later, I decided to give up learning Latin. It turns out I still find languages as dull as when I was in Year 9, and that is absolutely fine with me.
5. Speak to your friends
No, seriously. Pick up the phone and give someone a call. No-one does this anymore and my friends always answer me with a somewhat confused sounding “Hello?”, despite the fact they spend their entire day with a telephone glued to their bum cheeks. Speaking over the phone is far more satisfying than a Whatsapp chat as you make a real human connection.
6. Enjoy yourself
Even if things aren’t perfect there is no need to be a martyr. In my case, there are some who believe that because I’m unemployed, I should do nothing but apply for jobs all day, every day. But even people with jobs have lunch breaks, and take 10 minutes to chat to Jenny the office gossip. I’m still entitled to live my life like everyone else, which can easily be forgotten, trust me. I’m an expert at managing money and going without; despite what the newspapers may say, benefit payments are low. Knowing what is a luxury (media subscriptions, nights out, macchiatos…) is crucial, but this doesn’t mean you need to rid yourself of every treat possible.
7. Do something weird
I recently attended a Buddhist meditation session at a Quaker house in my local town. I sat on a chair in a circle of elderly hippies and attempted to search for inner peace. I didn’t find it, but I did enjoy a bourbon and a cup of herbal tea at the end. I chatted to the other attendees who were the happiest, most chilled out and satisfied people I have ever met. Even though I felt awkward and out of place, I loved every minute. Sometimes you need to do something out of the ordinary to reawaken your senses, or at least provide you with a decent anecdote – go on, I dare you.
8. Temporarily Disappear
Contrary to No.5; make yourself un-contactable for a day and forget that we’re all heading towards an international disaster. Turn off your phone, switch off all your notifications, and ignore the news. See how long you can last and enjoy the silence.
9. Listen to a podcast
I have no explanation for this, I just love podcasts.
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