By: Ryan Hodros, Culinary Arts Student
A few weeks ago, I decided to spit in Fate’s eye by writing a pair of articles about what it’s like once you achieve your dream. The summary of those articles is that I was finally being paid to do food writing at a magazine, and as the first major breakthrough in my writing career, I was feeling pretty stoked about myself and life in general.
But Fate, it turns out, does not like being spat at, and jinxed the heck out of me. The magazine is not keeping me on beyond my internship period, and as a result, I will once again be unemployed in a week and a half unless I take action.
Any family or close friends reading this, relax. I’ve already wrestled with this crisis and have started dealing with it, sending out applications and resumes and calling in favors and the whole nine yards (though if anyone you know is hiring a writer, please shoot me an email). But what I brought away from that experience is that there are a few steps you can take in order to make this kind of crisis less traumatic.
4. Let yourself panic (for a while)
Yeah, the first item on lists like this is usually the complete opposite. “Don’t panic, everything will be fine” is a platitude people with no reason to panic tell people who are legitimately freaking the heck out, and it’s condescending. I say screw that. Give yourself a day to panic—run around your house like a nut, pray your knees out, kick the crap out of yourself at the gym, climb a mountain, do whatever. My wife vents her panic by going to karaoke bars and “singing her face off.”
Just vent that adrenaline or it will kill you. The initial violent panic will bash you in the heart, but will eventually fade and subside, to be replaced by a more dangerous background panic that’s like a fist gripping you by the heart and squeezing too tight. Sounds awful, right? But don’t worry, because you’re going to…
3. Stop panicking (by making a plan)
Everyone has a preferred way of making a plan. I make lists. Right now, at home, I have a white board with around twelve items (all of which are crossed off, I might add) outlining what I was going to do last weekend upon finding out that my dream was still slightly out of reach. They were basic things like “find jobs online,” “send out three applications by Monday” and “Watch the Broncos game” (see #2). I also have a chalkboard full of potential employers, only some of which are currently crossed off.
My point is, putting together a real, tangible plan is how you turn the panic faucet off responsibly. If your plan is “eh, I’ll figure something out,” that’s not a plan—you’re coping with your panic by being delusional. Sit down and make a real plan with actual, achievable steps, and the calm you feel will be deserved.
Then have a beer if you can afford it and are of age, because #4 is a doozy.
2. Don’t burn yourself out (or be lazy)
A lot of people (myself included) just cannot sit still when something bad happens. Action is the medicine to whatever disease has worked its way into your life, so frantic motion is required. It’s tempting to put in an 18 hour day filling out applications, pounding the pavement, and getting your face out there.
But know your limits. Don’t be lazy, but at the same time, don’t run yourself so ragged that you look like a soup sandwich by day three of your tribulations. You will eventually land an interview, and during that interview, you want to look calm, collected, and eager–not exhausted. So give yourself enough time for meals, sleep, and the occasional downtime. Read a book for a half hour, or watch your favorite TV show (though I don’t recommend binge-watching the entire run of Breaking Bad, tempting though it may be.) Just remember, you can’t sprint through a marathon, so keep a manageable pace.
1. Don’t give up. Ever.
When you hit your first stumbling block, sometimes it feels like the powers that be, whether business owners, publishers, supervisors, or the Almighty Himself, are aligned against you. Everyone in your life is flinging crap at you (metaphorically, though you never know), and every last thing in the world you interact with is just another burden you can’t handle anymore. You turn on your Xbox and it breaks. You go to take a shower, and the hot water is out and the drain is clogged. You put on your favorite slippers and your toe pops through. If “life” were a person, you would smack it with a paddle and send it to its room for being such a jerk.
But don’t give up. These periods are always temporary, and while it never seems that way while you’re neck deep in crap, eventually it gets shallower. Just keep breathing until you catch a foothold and start moving forward again. Keep pounding that pavement, keep sending out your resume and filling out applications. Keep after it no matter what, because you have a dream damn it! If it’s going to fail, don’t let it be because you didn’t try hard enough.