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Never have I ever spent this long in the disappointment and frustration of this many “no’s” for jobs I’ve gone through final rounds of interviews before. I’ve been seriously considered for five different jobs to have made it to the final round of interviews before being told the organization went with someone else. That’s not even counting all the other firsts interviews I’ve gone through to then not move forward, or immediate rejections, or no response at all. The emotional toll selling yourself to an organization to hire you is exhausting, time consuming, and can often feel dehumanizing. It’s even more difficult when you’re already struggling with your mental health.

Never have I ever spent this long in the grief of leaving a place I thought was my home, but felt like a stranger. A place where I no longer felt mentally, emotionally, and spiritually safe. I will never regret making the decision to leave. It was the easiest hard decision. I knew this part of life existed because I’ve seen my parents make the decision where a city or church environment was no longer safe for our family. But I naively thought it wouldn’t happen to me. But the harsh reality was that people can have the best of intentions and still be harmful. Or the more blatant reality, that people you once considered to be good, are actually bad and how that was redefined in a lot of ways for me.

Never have I ever spent this long in burnout and what the aftermath of it looks like. My burnout of life in Ohio didn’t just end when I left the state. It followed me for quite some time because science has proven over the years that burnout actually changes your brain. Therapy, exercise, and medication have been helpful in fixing or healing my brain in its neurological dysfunction.
Healing isn’t linear. As I continue to interview for jobs, I realize the triggers I have and am lucky to have the time to process them and work through the sticky parts. I know I cannot gloss over what has happened and distract myself from the reality of everything and wishing it was all over won’t change anything or move me forward in the healing process. I owe it to myself to continue doing the hard work of putting all the pieces together that I can.

Never have I ever spent this long in unemployment, while actively applying and interviewing for jobs. I thought I would spend a maximum of six months looking for a job. It’s almost been a year. I’ve significantly grown my network, which has been incredibly supportive. Everything costs money and when you don’t have it, it makes it that much more difficult to feel like a human. I also realize I’m privileged enough to live with family and they’ve helped with some of the financial stress, but not having the daily routine of having a job, when that’s all you’ve had since you were 18 is a tough realignment. I still have to manage my time so it’s not wasted and we could argue a lot about what that actually looks like. But people treat you differently when you don’t have a job.

Never have I ever spent this long living with my parents as an adult. I was terrified to ask my parents if I could move in with them temporarily while I took care of my mental health from burnout, to recover and find a new job. What was supposed to be three months has turned into 17…and counting. They have been incredibly supportive, but as an introverted, independent adult, it’s a difficult place to be. Depending on your parents for a roof over your head. To not have the typical space you crave. To not feel like a kid again and revert back to old and unhealthy behaviors. To not have a space that is your own. Again, I’m privileged to have their support and I can’t help but wonder, “how is this my life at 33?”

Never have I ever spent this long dreaming of my future, questioning my present, and reflecting on my past. For the first time in a long time, I can actually dream about my future. If no one’s told you or you haven’t experienced it for yourself–depression robs you of the ability to dream or think about the future. For too long I was in survival mode, never feeling like I had my head above water long enough before being taken back under. I have fought so hard to get to this place where I can dream and it’s terrifying. There’s so much I want out of my life and it’s scary to acknowledge how important certain things are, while also fighting the doubt of whether I will ever get to experience those things.

I spend a lot of time in my head, often, it’s safer to be there than the reality of the present. Something I work hard on is to be as present in the moment as possible. It’s a difficult practice, yet is so rewarding to be able to give my full attention to something or someone. However, because I live in my head, it’s hard for my thoughts to not wander into “what the hell is actually happening?” and “why am I here?” or “why did this have to happen to me?” or even better “this isn’t where I imagined my life would be at this point.” When my brain gets to that point, it’s a quick, dangerous dive into the past of what I could have done to prevent the present or what I should have done. But we know that hindsight is 20/20 and you make decisions based on the information you have at the time. As a friend tells me often, “You can should yourself all you want…” and they’re right. I can do that, but it’s not healthy and it’s not productive. Instead, reflecting on what happened and learning from it. It doesn’t necessarily mean it was a mistake, but it’s an opportunity to take what you know now and do something with it.

Never have I ever spent this long wavering between if hope is worth it or not.
Some of my favorite and meaningful lyrics about hope from my favorite band:

It’s just a spark, but it’s enough to keep me going
And when it’s dark out and no one’s around, it keeps glowing

And the salt in my wounds isn’t burning anymore than it used to
It’s not that I don’t feel the pain, it’s just I’m not afraid of hurting anymore
And the blood in these veins isn’t pumping any less than it ever has
And that’s the hope I have, the only thing I know that’s keeping me alive

Last Hope by Paramore
Video, Spotify, Apple

I’ve said this before. Never. Never did I ever think I’d be where I am today. That was over a year ago and here we are still. This season of my life has been something. I have the ability to start over. Fresh start. A clean start. To have taken the time to pull apart so much and put it back together again, better, healthier, stronger. It’s hard work to do and isn’t easy, by any means. I don’t want to rush this time of my life because I know there can always be more lessons to learn, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t ready to start. Start again. It’s not that I feel like I’m stuck, but I’m in this waiting period. Like right before a race, as the colors of the lights are turning or before the gun goes off and it’s the milliseconds between when the race car driver or runner is mentally focused on the task at hand, relying on all their practice and training, revving their engine or breathing in to have the most power to go. Or the electric anticipation before tip off or kick off. The adrenaline is rushing through your veins ready to attack. I feel like I keep having these false starts and having to reset. You have to go through that preparation, even if it’s for a few seconds before you’re ready to start again. But the more it happens, the more your mind starts playing tricks on you. I’ve been sitting in that anticipation and now I’m wondering if it will ever happen, and yet I don’t want to get caught off guard.

Today I know I’m deep in my feelings about a lot and writing has always been an outlet to process them, share my story, and hope it resonates with someone to reassure them that they’re not alone in this life journey.
Never have I ever been so sure of the decisions I’ve made up to this point–my faith has led me here. Never have I ever been so incredibly grateful for my inner circle that has kept me going during this season of my life. Never have I ever had the time to dig deep into the shittiest of experiences and found grace on the other side. Never have I ever had so much time with my parents in a really important time of their lives–it also doesn’t hurt they have the cutest puppies that I’m obsessed with. Never have I ever been able to solely prioritize my mental health through therapy and medication to where I feel so good about myself. And never have I ever felt like the best is yet to come.

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