Thursday, May 28, 2015

Reflections/Perceptions

 
All of this week, I have been applying for jobs. In academia, it's all about the curriculum vitae, and in the rest of the world it's more about the cover letter and resume. Therefore, I've had to retool my job application material. Sometimes that means turning my CV into a resume or retooling my CV for a specific job. The same goes for the cover letter. As a marketing friend of mine would say, I'm having to brand myself and create an image of not just who I am, but I also have to create an image, while being completely honest, of the person that someone will want to hire. This takes a lot of self searching on my part. I'm having to examine who I am and what direction I want my life to go.
When you look at yourself in a mirror, what you see depends on the quality of that mirror. Similarly, our mental images of ourselves help determine how we react to daily highs and lows of life. If we think of ourselves as worthwhile and valued, that quality will come across to other people. Molded by both internal and external forces, our self-image makes a huge difference in how we feel and act. Self-image is both a conscious and subconscious way of seeing ourselves. It is the emotional judgment we make about our self-worth. We form our self-image through interaction with others, taking into account their reactions to us and the ways they categorize us. Their responses are affected by their own distortions in worldview, however, so we don’t always get an accurate reflection of ourselves.
In the job search process, I've had to think a lot about how I would describe myself to a stranger. My answer largely depends on my mental image of myself. There is a problem with this. First, I think about how I am a very good historian and teacher. I know my material, and I know how to present it in an interesting way. (If I didn't have a track record of this, would you still be reading this blog?). This is the side of me that I have to present to a potential employer.
However, the loss of my job has greatly damaged my self confidence. If I were so good, then why did the school decide not to renew my contract? From talking to several people, I'm pretty sure I know why, but the question is: why me? There were some teachers who constantly were stirring up trouble, and teachers who barely taught at all, in fact were barely in their classroom. I was always in my classroom, and I refused to get involved in the petty bickering. Yet, I lost my job. This does not help ones self confidence. However, I have to find my self confidence when applying for jobs.
We can’t help but compare ourselves with others, much as we might try not to. We usually compare ourselves against the expectations of friends and family. Often society gives us roles and expectations, such as having a successful career or being a good husband. This contributes to how we see ourselves. This becomes even more complicated as a closeted gay man. We have ways that we are expected to be perceived. We assess ourselves continually.
A positive self-image leads to confidence and self-acceptance. A negative self-image leads to a sense of inferiority and even depression. Those who develop a mature and realistic self-image will not come undone by every critical comment. This is especially difficult when you're on a job hunt. Some jobs, you may know are long shots; others, you think should be a sure thing (or at least you should warrant an interview). Then you submit application after application and you get rejection after rejection, or even worse, silence. This job hunt has just begun, and I thank all of you for your suggestions. However, I've been on the job hunt for a permanent position in higher education for nearly seven years, so the job hunt isn't something new. This time though, I don’t have the luxury of having a job while applying for positions that I find ideal. I'm branching out and looking at non-teaching positions, and the thing is, this may have been what I've needed to do all along.
I'm taking a good look at myself, and doing my best to remain positive about what I see. Trust me, it's not always easy at times to be optimistic, and I have had a fair number of pessimistic moments this week. I will hold my head up high and continue the search.

6 comments:

djc314 said...

Great advice for anyone....not just those looking for a job. Keep your head up!

Michael Dodd said...

I have found that it can be self-defeating to think that everything that happens to me and around me is somehow because of ME, something I did or failed to do. Sometimes I am just there when something happens, something that is the result of factors and people and circumstances that are only tangentially related to me, over which I have not control. I may suffer, or people I love may suffer, and that is painful. But other people are also active in the world, making decisions based on their own perceived needs and fears. They are, in other words, pretty much like me. I am not responsible for what they do. I am responsible for learning what I can from things that happen, taking an honest look at what my role in it may indeed have been and then correcting IN MYSELF what I can, accepting what I cannot and turning the rest over to SomeOne who can and will if earnestly sought.

I recall being on vacation with a friend once when it rained on a day we had planned to go to the beach.

I said, "I'm sorry!"

He looked at me curiously and said, "Did you make it rain on purpose?"

Susan said...

Great post, Joe. I can especially relate to and understand your feelings when you said, " Why me?[...]I was always in my classroom, and I refused to get involved in the petty bickering. Yet, I lost my job." It does feel so very unfair when we can compare our performance to others we perceive as less worthy who didn't suffer our fate. I think Michael's first two sentence perfectly respond to your question. As annoying and upsetting as your situation is, you have to try hard to let the part you had no control over—go, and move on to the next part where you do everything in your power to get an even more satisfying job. One that will allow you to be your authentic self. I wish this for you. Joe.

Jay M. said...

The last time I lost my job, I was thrown into the same state. And even when a headhunter offered to help, and she re-worked by resume, it didn't help a lot, because she made it look like I was searching for an entry level position even though I had 20+ years experience! That didn't help the mindset.

I wondered about the "why me" part, and finally had to let it go. It happened, it sucked (and I am not trying to lessen your feelings), but 4 months into the seemingly hopeless job search, I had to let it go. I know it was subconsciously affecting my chances.

I hope you can get past it, too, and quickly. You know yourself, you know your strengths, and you can project that! I have confidence in you!

Check your email, I sent a link to a possibility.

Peace <3
Jay

Amanda said...

I know it can't be easy to always keep a positive attitude but you seem to be in the right mind set. I'm sorry that it happened the way it did but I know there's a reason. Keep your head up and know it will work out. I'll keep you in my prayers. :)

EthanJM said...

Awesome post. When you look in the mirror I hope you see a very intelligent, caring, gifted man whose education and experience qualify him for greatness and an ability to change and influence people.