Friday I drove about an hour away away to a somewhat unknown campground that has become a family favorite. I took four of my favorite kids and we met up with about 50 neighborhood friends who were going to enjoy a group campground with us. It was a super fun time with great people and great food.
One of my favorite things to do while camping is to do a “night hike.” This campground is so safe and secluded that I set of with three or four other adults and thirteen kids for a night hike. Now, my version of night hike is with teenagers, and the rule is that all flashlights have to be off so our eyes can acclimate, and so we can see the amazing stars in a place void of light pollution.
However, on this hike, the average age of the kids was probably… seven! Half of them had glow-stick necklaces, and most of them had flashlights. I asked them to turn off their lights, but it became clear about three steps into the hike that some of the kids were scared, and that no one was going to turn off their lights.
A few minutes into our hike we started hearing whimperings of “I’m scared,” and “let’s go back now.” Somehow, though, all of the kids were able to hang in there until we got about a half mile away from camp, where we sat on a log and looked at the stars. We also had a minute of complete silence and then shared what we heard. It’s a profound and humbling experience to get away from the city sights and noises and spend time absorbing the Great Outdoors.
Except, there was one kid who continued to whimper about going back to camp…. he was really quite scared the entire time. Even though we had more light than we should have, and there were plenty of adults, and walking this little road in the campground was as safe as walking to your bathroom in the middle of the night, this kid was terrified.
I thought about how we, as job seekers, are like that little kid. I KNOW it is scary. It is enough to make grown men cry, cause unprecedented anxiety, and all that stuff.
I thought, even though he was totally safe, his feelings were real.
I know YOUR feelings are real. I don’t want to take that away from you.
I also know that you are not alone. There are people who are with you. Some of them are wiser and more experienced. Some of them have been down the road plenty of times. Some of the people walking with you know what dangers (or lack of dangers) are in the road. Some of them leave you alone, enough to freak you out, but they would absolutely be there for you if there was real danger, or if you cried out for help.
Everything about the scenario reminded me of my job search. I felt alone, but I wasn’t. I felt in danger, but I wasn’t.
When we got back to camp, with the lanterns, and lots of adults talking and laughing, the fear was totally gone.
When you land your job, with a paycheck and whatever cool benefits you get, the fear might be totally gone.
But remember, you walked the path. You did it. You survived. You maybe even thrived. You can help others walk that path, and when the time comes for you to do it again, you can. You will. But next time you can do it with a different perspective. You don’t have to be scared, whimpering, and feeling subject to so many things outside of your control. Next time, you can do it with knowledge, power, a sense of security, and confidence.
What a cool analogy. Think of those going through their own “night hike,” and be compassionate towards them. If you are going through your own, look for mentors, and guides, and people who have a better vision of the road you are on than you do. While it may seem impossible, learn to trust in them. Scary, but if they’ve been down that road, they might have just what you need.