Graduate Series - Motivation when feeling defeated



I graduated from my masters in public health at the age of 24, where I had the chance to complete an awesome internship placement in South Africa. After graduation, I spoke at TEDx, I lead a consultancy project at the community-level in Congo to assess the rate of mental health among substance users in Bukavu. But I am now 25 years old, turning 26 in a short few months. Being ambitious and driven has taken me to places in my career that some can only imagine. I am very grateful.


However, eight months after graduation, 80 job applications later, I am still unemployed. While my hustling flow allows me to pick small consultancy gigs and side projects to stay at float, it has been extremely discouraging trying to knock of every door and feeling like God is closing all of them without opening any. Those of you who are not practitioners of religion, I’m sure there are times in life you feel so lost and do not know where to turn, that’s me right now.


Some employers would reject me because I’m ‘overqualified’. Others say ‘I don’t have enough years of experience’, I swear some employers sound like robotic morons with a memorized scripts. All I can say is: rejection sucks. To have so much ambition and desire to make social impact at large, but feeling like the direction you want to take in life isn’t working, how do you even get up in the morning?


While my life at the moment isn’t exactly what I imagined it to be, through the support and love of my family and friends, I am now at a place of contentment. Here are some practical words of encouragement, that I hope speaks to you:


  1. Life is not a straight path. It has stop signs, stumbling blocks, accidents, pivot turns, red lights. The journey of life has its challenges, which builds your character, but if you stay focus long enough, you will reach your end destination.
  2. Surround yourself by people who get it, its that simple. I’m extremely good at cutting people out of my life, I know I sound harsh but it is the truth. When feeling discouraged and defeated, reexamine your circle. Have friends and family members who understand you, know your goals and give you insightful guidance and advice based on YOUR needs and not based on their own shortcomings. Remember: relationships are a proposition value, there has to be a mutual gain and stimulator, if there isn’t, play: O.T. Genasis - Cut It ft. Young Dolph
  3. Have concrete goals, objectives, and deliverables that you want out of life. First, know the difference between the three, write it down, and strategize on how to make it happen. While our life goals may change in life, I think of it more like ‘a slight shift’, it is still important to have a concrete vision for life, don’t be a floater.
  4. Do not seek comfort. I am all for watching Netflix all day when you have an exhaustive demanding job or have to take care of so many of your loved ones (a job in itself), but when your life is not where you want it to be and you feel like you have a long way to go, you’re not in a place to chill, it’s that simple. After concretizing your goals (#3), I make daily *realistic* goals, some call it To-Do-List, so that I feel like I have achieved at least one thing a day. I can go to bed knowing that, if all fails, I have applied for a job today, I have worked out, I have sent a LinkedIn email to a potential employer of interest.


At the end of the day, I can confidently say that I have tried my best and be content with that, while patiently waiting while keeping a positive attitude.

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