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Just Keep Swimming: The Story Behind My 9-5

(Image courtesy of Wix.)

I swam in the sea of unemployment for 169 days. I drifted with the uncertain current, looking for clearer skies and calmer waters. When you are unemployed, it impacts your mental health. After all, the second question anyone asks you is, So, what do you do? It's easier to state your job title than describe the countless hours drowning in vague job descriptions or MLM job interviews.

The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault
The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault. This painting is in the public domain.

I never expected to get my job. To help you understand how certain I was that I was not going to get this role, I want to tell you the story of how I got my job. In February 2024, I had PRK eye surgery. PRK is Lasik's cousin. The best metaphor to describe this procedure is this: Lasik takes the roof off your house to fix a problem with the foundation, while PRK takes the house off to fix the problem with the foundation.

Image of a roof under construction
Image courtesy of Wix.

Consequently, PRK results last for life. I had a minor complication with my procedure. Everyone's eyeballs are uniquely shaped. After surgery, the doctor puts a contact lens on your eye to protect it from the outside world. So, the contact lens that was used on my eye surrogate protective layer did not fit my eyes, and the lens got stuck to them. After fitting my eyes with a new lens and doing a first-round job interview for a different role in the waiting room, I only wanted to close my eyes and nap. Instead, I got a call from a recruiter. I get solicitor calls all the time, so I was curt to the random person bothering me when I was in pain. Turns out, it was the call that changed my life.

Channing Tatum (Duke Orsino) answer the flip phone.
Image courtesy of Dreamworks

The recruiter told me her name and how she works for a large recruiting firm. She saw my LinkedIn and asked if I was interested in working for my company. I then used my professional voice (you know, the voice you use when leading a meeting or presenting a project) and said that I am in between opportunities and open to new roles. She told me to send her my resume. The call ended, and since I couldn't drive, my mom asked who called me. I told her the story and said, "This will make a great story for the blog one day."

Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) typing on her computer.
Image Courtesy of HBO/Everett/ Rex

Once I got home, I moved my thick post-optical surgery glasses and reworked my resume. The rework took probably 5 minutes. This is the reason why. I am lucky to have multiple mentors in my life. During this unemployment period, I got a new one: Barbara. Barbara is the definition of a badass. She easily juggled motherhood, her second pregnancy, house renovation, and her professional endeavors with a smile on her face. Before my eye surgery, I met Barbara at Ella's Coffee to reconstruct my resume. So, when I got home from the doctor's office, I sent my resume and thought I would never hear from the recruiter again.

Elle woods (Reese Witherspoon) handing her resume to Professor Callahan for a internship at his law office in Legally Blonde 2001.
Image Courtesy of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The next week, I got another call from the recruiter, who told me my job wanted a first-round interview with me the next day. The next day, I had another job interview in the morning for a travel agency. I wore my subtle nautical theme outfit to show them that I could work in the travel realm. The first interview was standard. I went home and prepared for my current job's first interview. For my current job, I had two interviews. Both times, I thought I bombed them. As I wrote them my thank you emails, I believed I would never see or hear from these people again.

the image of  official music video of Ariana Grande Thank You Next lyric video by Republic Records 2018.
Image courtesy of Republic Records

Ten days after that initial call, I was emailed my job contract. So, you might wonder? Rachel, why tell this story? You have a job now. You have great co-workers and a boss who treats you like a mentee rather than a subordinate. What compelled you to write this?

a computer.
Image courtesy of Media by Wix

After getting a fantastic job, you encounter a new side to your various networks. People began to treat me differently. Friends ask you for things outside your control. Distant relatives want promotional codes. Sometimes, a person you haven't spoken to since the last presidential administration inquires if I could upgrade their cabin on their upcoming trip. How can one deal with fake patronage or rueful compliments? I don't know. I'm trying to figure out the answer to this question. Maybe in another 169 days, I will write an article answering this question.

I am navigating a new terrain. I am learning skills not taught in any schooling. But, as I continue to work and dare greatly, I promise you this: if you ever feel like the world is working against you, you, too, will have a similar story to share one day. While it is easier said than done, don't feel poorly about yourself if you are unemployed. After all, how can you appreciate being on dry land unless you are stranded out at sea?

an island
Image courtesy of Media by Wix


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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