My daughter is troubled by work stresses and her career choices to date. Like so many, she feels trapped in a job/career that no longer suits her and has been unsuccessful thus far into breaking out and into something else.
Her latest effort resulted in an interview and a “thanks, but we extended an offer to another candidate” email. It was not necessarily a job she genuinely wanted; it was a break from what she is doing now and a potential stepping stone to a career path that she believes suits her better. The continued lack of success in moving away from her present career has been disappointing and frustrating. It is preying on her self-esteem.
And as a mother, it completely shatters my heart.
I want to fix this for her, even though I know I cannot. I want to find her another job, and I know it is not my place. I want her to feel secure and successful, not lost and like a loser. I know she wants to be secure and successful, too, and does not tell me these things about how she feels in hopes I have a magic wand buried in the depths of my closet. She confides in me because I will not judge her a failure and will rally her spirits and brainstorm possibilities to get her launched into a different direction.
So first we accentuate the positive:
- She has a full-time job with benefits and pays a living wage.
- Her fiance has a job and benefits and living wage.
- They live well below their means and have savings, so she could take a salary decrease.
- She is off on Thursdays and can actively search for work and schedule interviews without having to request time off.
- It is holiday hiring season, so she could potentially pick up a second retail job for a variation of experience.
Then we brainstorm the game plan:
- Applying for any sort of office work (file clerk, receptionist, customer service) she could qualify for is critical. Finding something else is her second job until she is successful.
- Update and create variations of her resume for the types of jobs she is pursuing.
- Between Thursday and Sunday, submit applications to at least 6 retail establishments for seasonal work.
- Review craigslist and other job boards every day and apply for any office/clerical jobs.
- Step up her networking! She and A have friends, coworkers, family members who may be willing or able to assist in her search.
- Accept that this may be a long process and disappointment is part of the journey. Stay positive and focused on her goal.
- Taking a break is not the same as giving up. Sometimes we need a breather.
By the end of our texting and phone conversations, she was in a much better place. The tears were gone, the “I feel so lost and I am such a loser” lamentations had ceased. The job market remains very tight, very tough, and her quest is not going to be any easy one under present market conditions. It requires patience, which our gene pool tends to run short on, and hard work. I believe in my daughter, my faith in her ability to succeed and make the breakthrough she desires is unshakeable. I am always her #1 fan and chief cheerleader, while also the voice of reason and the one person she counts on to tell her the truth, no matter how difficult or painful.
While my own feelings of success or failure as a parent are dependent upon my children’s overall happiness, I have long understood that the one thing I cannot protect them from is truth and unrealistic expectations. I wanted them to have realistic hopes and dreams, to understand that hard work goes a long way toward achievement but not everything is possible for everyone. From parents who are 5’5″ tall, it is unrealistic to dream of being a 6’5″ basketball star. Genetics are just not in our favor for achieving above-average height.
My daughter desires a different career, perhaps business or accounting, something cleaner and less emotionally taxing on her psyche and personality type.. Her initial choice of veterinary medicine has put her on a path of burnout at age 28, from dealing with sick and dying animals to coping with the emotions, fears, and expectations of their owners. This is the hardest part of motherhood: watching my child grow up and be thrust into a world of grown-up responsibilities, office politics, and how truly cruel and undisciplined people can be to strangers who cross their paths. I want her to be successful on her own terms. I view my position as part of our family unit is to help her, support her in whatever capacity is needed to define and achieve those terms.
In my life I am absolutely certain of very few things, but on this I am completely confident: I am a good mother. However, it is not always easy, pretty, comfortable, or fulfilling, which tells me I am doing a lot right in this role.