By Dara Ely:
“How do you go from where you are, to where you want to be? I think you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. You have to be willing to work for it.”
- Jim Valvano, 3/4/93
To call these “tough times” would be an understatement. The world around us is scary, tumultuous, and filled with uncertainty. Personally, having worked since I was 13, unemployment has been a greater psychological and emotional struggle than I ever expected.
Still, this search has reminded me that there’s so much more to life than how I earn a paycheck. It’s shown me just how blessed I remain, how fortunate I am to still enjoy many comforts, and how grateful I am for my supportive, patient partner.
This time has inspired me to be a more attentive partner, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend, even if I can’t be physically close to the people I love. I’ve tried to be a source of light and comfort for others and I’m always smiling at people — behind my mask.
“How do you go from where you are, to where you want to be?”
I’ve had time to learn new career skills, gotten shiny certifications, taken on new freelance projects … endlessly tweaked my resume. But I’ve also experimented in the kitchen, gone swimming with my nephew, taken hand-in-hand walks, watched the sunset, made household repairs that normally would have involved calling an expert. I’ve striven to bring enthusiasm and curiosity to each day — I haven’t always succeeded. I’m thankful for the grace others have shown me.
I’ve been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers. People have reached out to make introductions, share their networks, review my resume, and even interview me for their projects. Their selflessness inspires me to give to others. And I’m filled with gratitude for all those working tirelessly to keep the rest of us safe and comfortable.
Most of all, it’s allowed me to do the things that Jim Valvano suggested to us back in 1993. I so often think of his words – delivered while he was facing far greater struggle. There is still so much magic and beauty in this world and pure joy can be found in the smallest moments. So every day I laugh, I think, I feel my emotions and have enthusiasm for this life that is so precious.
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day.”
Of course, my goal is to come out of this smarter, stronger, and with a career that fulfills and excites me. I’ll keep searching for the perfect job, but I won’t forget to live once I have it. I truly believe that as we emerge from this global struggle, our humanity, not our title, is what will come to define us.
I'll say that again: Our humanity is what defines us. If you are job-hunting, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you are smart, capable, and valuable. Think about your best qualities that stoke your inner fire and bring them to the table. If you're hiring, I implore you to learn a bit more about the human you are interviewing, not just the resume.
As each new morning brings seemingly greater uncertainty, let's hold tight those things of which we are sure. Let laughter, thoughts, and emotions be your touchstones. When you do that, enthusiasm and hope will shine through on even the toughest of days.
"I just got one last thing, I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have. To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get your emotions going. To be enthusiastic every day.”
About Dara Ely
Dara Ely is a specialist in creative communications and content strategy, with an emphasis on branding and storytelling. She has 15 years of experience ranging from higher education to small businesses and non-profits and is particularly interested in returning to the non-profit space. As the Covid economy has continued to throw her curveballs, she has skilled up and recently earned a Salesforce Administrator Certification and is actively seeking volunteer opportunities to gain hands-on experience.
While she wishes none of us had to be facing these career challenges, Dara is heartened by the communities of people who are networking, supporting, and lifting each other up.