Every Day I'm Hustling

I got rejected from two jobs this week. It's good to get an answer and move on. One was kind of shitty because the person who gave me the rejection didn't just say "ya, we can't take you on." Somehow they felt the need to convince me that I didn't really want the job and that I was better off somewhere else. I can handle rejection, but it's another thing to try to use Jedi Mind Tricks on me. I don't want to dive too deep into it, but it was a really awful conversation. I often feel the need to make sure everyone understands my situation completely, but I was reminded of a saying this week.

“You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks."

Winston S. Churchill

Moving on.

Transitioning out of recovery and stepping out into the world. It's like being at a spa and stepping back out into the wintery cold. I'm still pushing myself really hard. It's January, and it's only been two weeks since I got back into job hunt mode. To survive the cold in Canada, you can layer and bundle up, even carry some of those little hot packs with you, but once you're outside, you have to embrace the cold. The greater discomfort is the transition points, moving from hot to cold or vice versa. If you've dressed appropriately and once you've acclimated to the outdoors after a few minutes, it's not so bad. In the same way, the transition between healing and hunting is uncomfortable and takes time. The first couple job application rejections, whether direct or silent, will hurt my feelings, but once I get used to it, I won't feel the same pain anymore. I'll move on and get more agile.

My marriage is still my startup. When I was a house-spouse, I didn't make as much money, so I got paid in credit for doing the chores. Now that I'm job-hunting, I get credit for putting in my hours and applying for jobs. I'm my own boss, and I don't feel as micromanaged or that I need to act super busy like when I worked in an office with others. I can trust myself when I say that reading an hour a day helps to sharpen my mind, learning continuously by developing myself a little bit every day. I'm more available to taking creative, roundabout solutions that are more effective long term, instead of making undesirable tradeoffs for short term gains. It's kind of like being a freelancer. You get to do things your own way, but each activity has to truly add value or else you go out of business.

Alas, it was a rough week. I got a few job applications out, but I've been impatient as of late about getting a corporate job. I need immediate cash flow, but I still want to find something better suited to my career eventually. I went to Service Canada to ask about transitioning my medical EI to regular EI, extending my benefits from the four months to the full year, but they said I have to come in once it runs out in order to fill out a checklist and convert my benefits. I don't really know what that looks like, but it sounds a bit scary to make a bet on it only to possibly be rejected. I'll also need to talk to my doctor about my health so he can sign off on me trying to go back to work. Carrie started classes too. She's working less at her job and practicum but school is still busy, so we're still trying to see how it all falls together. She has three day weekends every weekend, so she's also picking up more of the house chores, which is a relief for me. I'm still helping out, but now I'm not shouldering the majority of it.

Still seeing people. Still putting myself out there. Through each conversation, I gain a new insight into how to proceed with the job hunt, which is nice. Similar to how I started going to the gym with a buddy, following his routine, catching a ride with him, being motivated by his hatred for me, having these coffee dates with my professional and personal networks allows me to piggyback on everyone's strength and wisdom in order to keep my momentum up. I've made a rough plan of how I want the next few months to look, but now that I'm in the execution phase, the timing of when I accomplish each item is critical. I want to work on an app, but I can't get too deep into it until I find work. I want to land something corporate, but that may take months to find. This week, it became clear to me that I should be finding a retail job first before really focusing on my long term career goals. Maybe I shouldn't even be looking for a corporate job at all until Carrie's done school. Small batches. Instead of working on all my problems at once, solve one at a time.

It's still hard fighting the temptation to work all day. Even though I get inspiration after work hours or during the weekend, I have to resist until I'm back on the clock. That's what happens when you rest. The stress leaves your body, creating room for new ideas and the ability to take on other stressors in the future. During that healing period where my heart containers refill, getting hurt can disrupt the recharging process.

A friend asked me this week how I deal with my anxiety. I think I've spent a lot of time writing about what increases it, but only a little about what I do to bring it down. The gym has been invaluable lately as a way of handling the stress of finding work. Even though the economy seems bleak in Calgary right now, this must be what other parts of the country feel like on a regular basis. Too many people vying for too few jobs. I'm resisting the temptation to feel sorry for myself. The job hunt is hard for everybody in this country, and that's what brings a lot of people to Calgary. All my coping skills are being put to the test right now, and it's helping me to zoom out and keep perspective when things don't feel so good for me in the moment. The gym allows me to feel confident about something, keeping my spirits up with dopamine and external indicators like when I increase my weights.

Here are some other things I do, not only for your benefit, dearest reader, but mostly because when I'm in my agitated state, I forget what activities I can turn to in order to regain a sense of calm:

  • Go to the gym.
    • Steam and hot tub unless I'm tired or crunched for time.
  • Eat a small and tasty snack.
    • Cherry tomatoes.
    • Cheese slices.
  • Eat a big and tasty snack.
    • Ramen with two poached eggs, julienned green onions, and enoki mushrooms.
    • Korean fried chicken and Coca-Cola
    • Pizza 🍕
  • Drink some tea (ginger mint, two creams, two sugars).
  • Cry in the shower.
  • Take a 30 minute nap.
  • Watch TV.
  • Play video games.
    • Super Mario Run to take the edge off.
    • Overwatch for medium problems.
    • Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the biggest problems.
  • Have a drink of scotch.
  • Listen to music. I have a specific playlist curated for when I'm feeling anxious.
  • Sex.
  • Change the scenery. If I'm at home, I leave. If I'm already out, I go back home.
  • Lie down and breathe deeply.
  • 3D printing. It's my tool for technological firegazing, something to stare at that mesmerizes me and absorbs all of my focus.
  • Read. This one can be tricky because it can often circle me back to a big problem I'm facing, but the first few minutes at least relieves the pressure in my head.
    • Blogs and saved items on my Reading List for a smaller effect.
    • eBooks for medium problems.
    • Grabbing a book when I really need to shake off the funk.
  • Hang out with a friend. This one takes a bit of preparation because the friends I used to be able to hang out with on a whim are currently unavailable. School, work, moved away.
  • Pray and meditate.
  • Talk about it with someone.
  • Write about it. Sometimes I type on my iPad Pro, sometimes I write with the Apple Pencil.
  • Mindfulness. It takes a lot of concentration, so it's hard to start. But when times are distressing enough, it's really helpful.
  • Change clothes. I often find that when I'm anxious, the amount of heat I'm absorbing or releasing tends to exacerbate the problem. Putting on or removing pants tends to address the situation adequately.
  • Going for a walk. Sometimes it's enough to just pace around the studio, but sometimes I need to walk around the neighbourhood. Haven't done this one much because of recent -30 weather. I don't want to transition from comfort to cold. 😉 ![]([dl.dropbox.com/s/ulmmtrr...](https://dl.dropbox.com/s/ulmmtrrlpvvnr7r/IMG_0097.JPG?dl=0)" alt="I was told there would be chinooks.)
  • Blogging. I keep it to only Saturdays and Sundays, so it's very structured. I've been able to help people through my writing, and Carrie inspired me to try it because she had been blogging for years when I started. It's easy to take reading and writing for granted, but they're actually pretty advanced cognitive processes. The brain is like a sponge. It absorbs water surrounding it, but to keep it from getting stinky we need to squeeze out the old and let it soak up fresh new water. Writing helps me to flush out and expose thoughts and assumptions and allows me to replace it with more helpful ones.

The person I was up until two years ago, I wasn't dealing with my emotional problems as they came up, but now I am. I was telling a friend, and they asked "What do you mean you didn't deal with your emotions?" I didn't really explain it well at the time, but an analogy came to me later. I hadn't exercised much since about 2014, where I played soccer at lunch at my old job. During the last two years, I ate a ton at every meal and had snack attacks at night, and I never went to the gym or played sports. I barely even walked around throughout the day. Eventually, it caught up to me because my gut grew pretty big. In that sense, not dealing with my problems was like eating food and never using that energy, which created storage problems in my body. Not dealing with my childhood abuses created a second-order problem of storing and suppressing them, the result being that I couldn't rise to the challenges of daily life. I was full of problems, and I couldn't take on any other seemingly small yet important ones like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping -- the stuff that keeps you alive. This month, I'm trying to get back to work while also acknowledging and dealing with my emotional problems along the way. Not stuffing them into storage as much anymore. I'm more whole as a person because of it. I spent the last two years, most intensively during the last six months, cleaning all the skeletons out of my closet, and I'm making a habit of not putting new ones in automatically. Now when I'm battling disagreeable thoughts or dark emotions, I'll stop what I'm doing in order to address it. I'll renegotiate situations in order to categorize them in a more useful manner, like so:

"Why hasn't this employer called me back yet? Am I just the worst job candidate in the history of work?"

"No, Jon, maybe they're just not looking for help right now. You're a great candidate, but they may simply not have room to hire anyone right now. They would hire you if they could, but it doesn't make sense at the moment."

"Oh, that's not so bad then. Thanks for helping me through that, Jon."

It's a cold world out there, but I'm staying hopeful. It's going to take a while to settle into job-hunt mode, but I'm getting there. There are still a lot of places to apply to, so while I look for something long term, I want to get a job real soon. I'm managing myself more fully, actually dealing with my emotions and anxiety as I go along, so I'm more whole as a person. The job market in Calgary is kind of sparse, but I'm not giving up. I'm leaning on my network to give me strength, for which I'm grateful. Oscar Wilde asked "who, being loved, is poor?" Well, me soon, so I'm gonna hustle every day to keep that from happening.

Jonathan Phan Lê @jon_le