There are perhaps very few things you can be doing that help to crush your self-esteem more than looking for work. I've been out of work for 2 months, and despite applying to something like 80 jobs in that time (during which I also got married!), I've had almost no interest. I had two in-person interviews, one phone interview, and one potential interview that I missed because I got very sick and couldn't get there. Oh, and I had a job offer today that is extremely sketchy and my gut tells me it's not legit or it's a front for something illegal, so I'm not pursuing that, of course.
I told my husband today that it makes me feel like I've wasted the past twelve years. I worked my butt off in college, had a 4.0 (in two majors), and was valedictorian of my graduating class. I worked 70 hrs a week, at times through the night, for two years to get my Master's degree. I worked until I literally made myself too sick to go on in my doctoral program for 5 years. I worked anywhere from 30-60 hrs a week this past academic year teaching in a position that was technically only a 20-hr-per-week job. I have forsaken relationships, outside activities, and a life in general for over 8 years. [And yes, I understand that without all of that, I never would have met or married my husband. I'm grateful. I know I learned a lot, about life, God, and myself. It wasn't wasted in that sense.]
But what do I have to show for it? My bills far outweigh the money I have left in the bank. We barely had enough money to pay the mortgage today - if I hadn't found the leftover euros from when I left Spain early to take care of my mom, we would have had to scramble to transfer what little money I have into his account. I went to a job fair and almost everyone told me that they had nothing that would fit my skills and education - I would have been better off with an associates degree from community college. I'm begging for jobs that don't require 4-year degrees, because almost everything requires minimum experience levels, and only if I can convince them that I have the skills despite never working in their field can I qualify. I'm over-educated, under-experienced, and honestly could have been farther along if I had simply gotten an industry job right out of college.
It doesn't help that the unemployment rate here is above the national average, and the reality is we probably are closer to 12-13% unemployed in the region. There are literally thousands begging for the same few jobs, and so it's getting increasingly hard to convince anyone to give me a chance when there are dozens or hundreds of candidates that have the exact qualifications they're looking for. I spent over an hour working on an application today that, in all likelihood, won't amount to anything. I'm applying to things that I never wanted to do, and still don't want to do, because I'm so worried that we won't be able to pay our bills by the end of the month. I've thought of going back to school to learn new skills for a different field, but that costs money that we just don't have. I can't afford to spend even $10,000 (a very small number in terms of tuition costs) on more training and schooling right now.
So where does that leave me? I'm exhausted mentally and physically from trying to find new ways to explain that my years teaching and as a graduate student have given me more than enough experience to be your administrative assistant or receptionist. I'm sick of trying to figure out if my body could handle working retail or food services - even though I know I can't handle standing for 6-8 hours a day. I'm exhausted from constantly being told that I just don't have the experience necessary.
I'm trying to trust that God will provide. I'm not doing very well on that front. I'm trying to believe that something will eventually "come along," before we have to sell a car or I have to stop sponsoring my Compassion child in Mexico. If you would have told me 10 years ago that I wouldn't finish the Ph.D., that there would be nothing in my field that I qualify for because the competition would be so intense that no one has to give me a second look, and that I'd be begging for jobs that recent high school graduates could qualify for, I don't know what choice I'd make in terms of my career. I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to be doing. And, for a planner like me, that's quite scary.
And yes, I know that God will take care of us. Today is just a seriously down day for me.