I Followed God Into the Darkness and Found My Worth

September 13, 2015

This is the story of how God rebuilt my confidence, restored my hope, and helped me realized that I was good enough.

Once I got into Dartmouth, I was advised that my alma mater had enough "brand name" recognition that I would have no trouble finding a job after college. I didn't exactly know what my dream job was, but I was told I could find something to tide me over until the epiphany happened. 

"Your major doesn't have to be related to your career."
"You'll develop great transferable skills in college and be very employable in a lot of arenas." 
"Going to a 'good' school is job security."

At least, that's what everyone told me.

Then 2008 hit, and most jobs disappeared with the economic crash. A lot of my classmates went running to grad school to ride out the rise in unemployment. Suddenly, there was nothing to "tide me over" when I graduated in 2009. Instead of hiding in grad school, I hid at Dartmouth for 5th year and did research. 

After that year was up, I came back to Oregon to help my mother and (I thought) study for the GRE and apply for grad school. Then grad school didn't feel right. I started applying for a variety of jobs in Oregon--some above my qualifications, some WAY below my qualifications, and some that seemed PERFECT for me.

And no one called me. I applied for jobs for years and never got an interview. Even the ones below my qualifications rejected me for being overqualified. I couldn't win.

I was so defeated. Absolutely terrified of rejection, it took me days to build up the courage to even apply to a job in the first place. Then I would spend hours just on one job application. And with every failed application, my little self-confidence shrunk until I had no confidence at all. For long stretches of time, I didn't apply for any jobs...I just assumed I'd get rejected again.

This went on for almost 5 years. I felt like I had ruined my future. I felt like I had NO potential, that I had wasted my degree, and that even if I could've done better....it was already ruined because I was 5 years behind from hiding. I had graduated in a terrible economy, and I would never be able to catch up. The "name brand" recognition did nothing for me. All of the advice I was give proved to be wrong. I felt broken. Everyone else from college seemed to be incredibly successful...I had friends with less education or qualifications with better jobs than I was able to get--what was wrong with me? 

I honestly believed, with every fiber in me, that (despite my Dartmouth degree, graduating with honors, getting research awards, etc.) I could do no better than minimum wage without benefits. Everything I had studied for, worked for, wasn't possible. I was somehow broken, employers wouldn't possibly want me, and my future was irredeemable. I had wasted a near full-ride scholarship and amazing opportunities. This was a HUGE source of depression for those 5 years in Oregon--I felt like I had no future worth living for. 

I had spent most of my life being career/ambition focused and I felt like all of my career dreams were impossible. The job market in Oregon really beat me down.

Then, I found myself moving to Utah. The boy I dated for a year was moving for school and I wanted a future with him, so Utah became the new plan. I had tried moving to LA a year earlier, but again, my job applications went nowhere and I was defeated.

But Utah was a new horizon! I had a bit more hope this time around, but fully expected to apply for 100+ jobs before getting even 1 interview. I was willing to put in the work and face all of that rejection in a short timeframe now--I felt so much more resilient than I had for the last 5 years. I think maybe it's because I was doing this for someone I love so much. But I also know now, that my increased resiliency was the Lord preparing me to move to this place that He wanted me to be. This was where I'm supposed to be, and He was going to make it happen.

I spent hours looking for jobs, and compiling this handy spreadsheet to track everything (shout out to Edie for that fabulous idea). I had an original list of 77 jobs, but only ended up applying for about 25 before the interviews started rolling in.

WHAT? People want to interview me??? I was shocked. Maybe my future was redeemable and I wasn't broken.

One week in August, I had two skype interviews. They had both gone really well, and I knew at least one of them would offer me a job. I was right--the same day of my interview, I was offered the job! The job itself sounded like it could be fun and the interviewers were incredibly caring and nice. But, the pay was very low (just barely enough to cover bills), there were no benefits, and I would've been contracted to work there for at least 10 months. And I was still waiting to hear back from my first-choice job applications. Plus, I just had a bad feeling during the interview I couldn't shake.

But, they offered me the job, right?? As someone who NEVER had success, this was a first! I felt like this was the best I could do, and I shouldn't tempt fate by passing. I felt like I was playing Let's Make a Deal with my future: 
*Take this job now, and pass on the possibility of there being a better job behind Door A
*Pass on this guaranteed job, and hope that there will be something better behind Door A

I wasn't excited about this job at all, and spent the day deliberating and crying over a decision. I prayed about it and felt nothing. I counseled with my mother and Zach for hours. I actually tried to avoid making a decision for awhile by hiding at a donut shop and eating my feelings. 

By the end of the day, I knew I needed to make a decision. After talking about it all day, I felt like I should maybe pass on the job. I didn't mind working for low pay temporarily, but the 10+ month contract made me uncomfortable.

I prayed one last time to make sure this was a good course of action. I told God that I didn't need to know what my future job would be, but I wanted to make sure I would be ok by passing. I rarely feel impressions while praying, but this time they penetrated my soul. 

"The world will not end if you pass on this job. You will be ok."

Even though God had confirmed my choice, I was still so scared to pass. I didn't want to make them mad by saying no. I still was unsure there would be anything for me in Utah. But I went to bed, resolved to call them in the morning and follow the counsel the Lord had given me.

8am: I made the scary decision and officially decline.
9:30am: I get 2 phone calls. More interviews. Even better jobs.

One interview was for a job I NEVER thought would call me. I had no experience, but felt like I lost nothing by applying. The second interview I didn't even apply for! A recruiter had seen my resume and felt like I would be a good fit for a full-time salaried position at her company (a fairly prestigious company in Utah). 

Shocked doesn't even describe the feeling that came over me. Within 90 minutes of following God's counsel, He provided me with better options that I would've ever imagined for myself! Two legitimate, career, grown-up jobs. And they wanted ME?! So many friends and family members told me how employable I was, but I never believed them until those phone calls. 

I felt a surge of confidence and hope I had never experienced before. I knew then that Utah was the right place for me. I had no idea if I would be offered either job, but I suddenly felt the confidence to continue pressing forward...with a better perspective of my capabilities and employability. I knew that if I didn't get these jobs, I still wouldn't have to settle. 

Making the rest of the story short: both interviews went really well! I was called back for a second round of interviews and then was left with another choice between these. After 2 days of deliberating, I accepted a position working for the Mayor & CAO of Sandy City!

I never set out to work in the public sector or in government, but I have LOVED every minute of it. I am excited to go to work everyday, I love my coworkers, the pay & benefits are amazing, the office is so supportive and encouraging, and I love the work I do. Often, I can't believe this is actually my life now--this is never something I could've imagined for myself after 5-6 years of hopelessness, despair, and rejection.
Working in local government is exactly like this.
I see this entire experience as miraculous. I didn't realize my capacity or potential. I didn't think I had a future worth living for--that it was broken beyond repair. The Lord had increased my resiliency enough to apply for jobs without fear of rejection....and then provided for my future here in a way I never thought possible. I feel strongly that I was being rewarded for my faith--I had to step SO far outside of my comfort zone to follow His will and He showed me how much better the future could be.

Looking back, I can't believe I almost took that first job, despite feeling so bad about it. It would have been torture had I accepted the job, and then been called 90 minutes later with a better offer. I would've been incredibly unhappy here, knowing I had settled and been locked in for almost a year.

I want to take the version of myself from 5 weeks ago and just SHAKE her. I want to wake that poor girl up to the reality of her future and potential. I feel so sad for my past self and the incredibly limited viewpoint I had for myself. 

It literally took an act of God to wake me up, rebuild me, restore my hope, and show me that I'm good enough. 

I'm so glad He stepped in.

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3 thoughts

  1. And of course I'm crying but that isn't unusual, however I just need to say that this is the most reality-based and insightful view of your life that I've ever seen/heard/lived with you. My heart is filled with so much relief, joy and appreciation for your faith and belief in yourself to match what I've always known you to be worthy and capable of. I love you so and wish nothing but the best for you as always.

  2. I thank you for this post. I know it was written several months ago, but it meant a lot to me. I came across a link to your "The Promise of Sunday," (through LDS Living, I believe) and I decided to read more of your posts. I felt like I could really relate. I finished my Bachelors degree in 2006, and although I applied for many jobs at the time, I was unable to find full-time work. I ended up going back to get my Masters after four years of searching for work, and I completed that degree in 2012. Since then, I have put out hundreds of applications and probably heard back from maybe 10% of the companies. Interviews have become rare, and as time has passed, having the confidence to even apply for another job has become harder and harder. Rejection, especially when I really thought I would get the job, is harder than no response at all. I have felt so alone in this as many of my friends have gotten jobs right away. Some of them are even on their second or third round of "adult jobs." I had a close friend (who applied to less than ten jobs and got one right away) tell me she had trouble being friends with people who did not have "real jobs" and then made it clear to me that I should appreciate her even talking to me when I didn't have an "adult job," which of course, made me feel even more depressed about being unable to find work.

    The last several years, but especially the last year have been a real struggle. I've thought that maybe I just wasn't smart enough or good enough. I've wondered if I had done something wrong, and I was missing out on the promptings of the Spirit concerning what I need to be doing with my life. I've wondered if I just meant to be a failure for the rest of my life. Right now, my confidence in myself is bordering on zero.

    Yesterday was an especially difficult day, as I got an especially difficult rejection, when I really thought things would finally work out. Thank you for sharing your job struggle. It made me feel far less alone. Thank you for offering me a bit of hope just when I really needed it.

    1. I am so glad it could be of some help! I TOTALLY understand all of the feelings you're having - I felt like I was destined to be a failure, that I was terrible at following spiritual promptings, that I'd never be good enough or smart enough.

      It's so crazy to me how hard it is for intelligent millenials to find jobs in the last 10 or so years. I don't know enough about economics and the job market to understand why so many of us are having this problem. What I DO know is that you aren't alone in this struggle and these feelings. I think the is the largest generation of over educated and underutilized adults we've ever had. You ARE smart enough and good enough!

      It's been about 7 months since I started this job. It's definitely not my dream job and I'm not super challenged most of the time, but I'm still so grateful to have it instead of the job I almost settled for. Part of me is still frustrated that I don't have an impressive job and I'm not using my education too much, but I know that the right thing will come along if I keep trying, applying, and working for it. I have faith in the promises of my patriarchal blessing now (which I didn't used to believe when things were tough for so long) and I am willing to work hard to make them happen. I hope your difficult job search comes to an end soon - just remember that any rejection or frustration is not a reflection of your worth or goodness!