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4 Things I Should’ve Done While Unemployed for 5 Months

29 May


You would’ve thought my mother caught the Holy Ghost the way she was jumping up and down when I gave her the news. “I got a job,” I told her. While her and my sister thanked God and my friends planned celebration drinks, I sat on my bed thinking, “There goes my freedom.”

It was official: I got my first professional job out of college. It was time to exchange sleeping in for a 7:30am alarm sound-off, PJs for work-appropriate clothing, and day-time talk shows for staff meetings.

Don’t get me wrong, that 5-month unemployment period was one of the most emotionally draining times in my life. It really did a number on my self-esteem. I definitely don’t miss spending hours sending out cover letters only to get a few, if any, responses. I don’t miss relying on the money from my published articles to fill my gas tank. And I don’t miss trying to convince hiring managers that my English degree and editorial background are not completely worthless. Yet, during that time I wish I would’ve taken advantage of my free time and did so much more. Read the rest at XO Jane…

Hey Everyone. This was originally published on XO Jane. You can enjoy the rest of the article there.

My Return to Sneakers: No longer trying to be a grown-up

23 Apr

CHUCKSWhile cleaning out my closet a few weeks ago, I came across a pair of old-school black Converse tennis shoes—shoes I’d sworn off several years ago. I thought I’d outgrown sneakers. They just didn’t match the sophisticated, successful adult persona that I was going for.

Instead of sneakers, I pictured myself in heels and a business-casual wardrobe, walking into my first job out of college. That entry-level position would eventually lead me to my dream editor job, where I could be financially independent, pay my own bills, love my career, and eventually move into my own place.

Yet, despite having celebrated several birthdays, bringing in a few new years, and achieving several milestones (graduating, getting published on my favorite sites, coming really close to having my dream wardrobe), that grown-up, sophisticated Shae has yet to show up. And I think it’ll be awhile before she does.

It’s been a year since I’ve graduated college and my first job out of college required me to ask “how may I help you” while wearing ugly non-slip shoes and seating people to a table. Lately, the only jobs I’ve come close to getting are positions that pay minimum wage or slightly above it, and nothing I’d be proud enough to put on a business card.

Though my career is taking seemingly forever to start up, I sometimes would catch glimpses of my sophisticated adult self when I put on my suit and heels for an interview or when I head out with friends to a comedy club on a Saturday night. But I would quickly realize that she was an imposter when the interview suit is a smidge too big,when the comedians on stage always make fun of my friends and me for being the “youngins” of the crowd, and when I have to call my mother to help cover the cost of my car repairs.

Since my actual life didn’t look anything like the independent “grown-up life” I’d pictured, my attitude changed. The once optimistic girl who believed she would be a successful editor became a miserable, not-so-sophisticated grown up. I became my worst nightmare: a person who hated her job, and I didn’t even have a job. Responses to my applications were few and far between. But when I did get an interview, it was always a low-paying position that had nothing to do with the field I wanted to get into. So I put on my classy-yet-not-so-comfortable interview heels, smiled at each interviewer, and answered questions confidently as if I really wanted the position—but on the inside I was screaming “fuck my life!”

Sitting in all my boredom, the byproduct of unemployment, I began reading my high school and freshman year college journals. Instantly, I was taken back to an unsophisticated, yet happier version of myself. I missed the 4+ years younger version of me, who always wore blue, white, or black Converses and dreamed of being an inspirational writer. This girl, in her plain sneakers, wrote hundreds of pages for novels she wanted to publish. This girl believed that someday she would do great things. Her journals weren’t littered with complains like mine currently are.Instead, they were filled with ideas and possibilities (and of course talk of boys, prom, and friends).

The younger me had more faith in herself than the pretend-adult me.

So I’m taking back the idealist attitude along with my Chuck’s sneakers. I’ve decided to put down my glamorized idea of what adulthood looks like, and repossess that uplifting spirit I had before I became so worried about finding a job, paying off college loans, and becoming the woman that wears fancy heels. I still have faith that I’ll make it to that career path one day (hopefully sooner than later)—and I might have to be underemployed for a little while until I get there. But instead of moping around and hating my life, I’ll do it with an open mind, faith in my future success, and my black Converses.

How to Survive Long-Term Unemployment

26 Mar


To be honest y’all, I don’t know if I’m completely qualified to write this article. My 5-month job hunt has got me holding on to my sanity by my last pinkie finger. And it’s slipping off quickly.

So this won’t be one of those corny, “Hold on a little longer. You can do it” type articles. Cuz right now I’m going through it.

After sending in tons of applications only to find an empty inbox the next day, and repeating that routine day after day, I find myself constantly frustrated, often frowning, and sometimes on the brink of tears. Unemployment, under-employment, and seemingly never-ending job hunts can really fuck with your self-esteem. So if you’re like me, struggling to keep it together mentally–try a few of these tips:

1. Find comfort in a few good friends. When I’m in the thick of my job hunting for the day, and I’m pissed off because insert-company’s-name-here’s application takes an hour to complete, good conversation is exactly what I need. Talking to them about totally unrelated subjects is quite healing. And friends are always helpful when you need to vent.

2. Vent when you need too. If you’re angry, yell at the wall. Curse as much as you need to. Call a friend and tell them your frustrations. No need to hold it in. But don’t vent too much. If you’re harping on negative things, you’ll be stuck in that feeling the whole day. So when you do need to vent or complain, give yourself a time limit and don’t go over it.

3. Exercise regularly. Trust me–if you’re not doing this, you should. I’ve gotten so bored from filling out applications that I body has has become sluggish 24-7. I feel overslept from just sitting at my desk. It’s quite awful, and I haven’t figured out how to get rid of the feeling (I’m beyond the point of no return…running doesn’t help me). But exercise might save the rest of you from the sluggish doom.

4. If you pray, pray often. (If not, skip over this section. I’m not here to convert you to anything). God and I have had some serious chats about my future. And though I haven’t figured it all out yet, reminding myself that God is supporting me and has big plans is very comforting. And as my preacher always says, “You don’t need to tell God about your big problems, you need to tell your problems about your Big God.” (Oh, and while you’re at it, add me to your prayer list…k, thanks).

5. Find something that’ll make you laugh hard. Modern Family has been my saving grace. Watch some comedians on Youtube. Have a “Best Vines” marathon. Laughing might be exactly what you need.

6. Don’t take it personally. If you’re putting your best foot forward and applying for jobs whenever you can, then it’s not your fault. Don’t blame yourself. Lots of people are in the same position.

7. Take the Naomi Campbell approach. If you ever watch an interview with Naomi Campbell, you can tell that she is very aware that she is Naomi Campbell, supermodel diva with an impressive and long-lasting career. She’s a boss and she knows it.

Sometimes, we have to be confident like Naomi and remind ourselves of how talented we are.

Here’s my reminder for myself when I’m not feeling that great: I’m Ritashae Collins. I’m a talented writer. I’ve been published in 9 different places, print and online. My writing makes people think and change. People tweet at me with quotes from my writing that inspire them. I’m fucking quoteable! I’m highly-qualified for the positions I’ve applied for and any company that passes over my resume (can suck it) has lost out on an awesome candidate.

I suggest you create your own mini speech to remind yourself just how awesome you are.

I even created a pick-me-up meme: UE SHAE @

8. Don’t give up hope. I know I said I wouldn’t be cheezy but this is real: having hope means that you still believe in yourself. Once you give that up, you may never get a job.

Good Luck

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