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Tuesday Truths: Managing Worry

August 28, 2012

I graduated from law school in what many have pegged as the “worst economy since the Great Depression.”

I obviously wasn’t alive during the Great Depression to feel its woe, but clearly, graduating in the worst economy since then wasn’t great news for a recent grad.

From all perspectives, I did everything “right” in law school.  I studied hard and ranked in the top-10 percent of my class.  I was invited to join the Chapman Law Review and served as Senior Symposium Editor my 3L year.  I made solid relationships with my professors, the career services staff and my classmates (read: I was never the competitive jerk that every law school has).  I had fantastic internships at the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles, the Screen Actors Guild, Warner/Chappell Music and my current job, as a prosecutor.

Yet, after all of that, I graduated law school without a single job offer, as did many of my classmates and law school peers around the country.

At first, I did not let this fact worry me.  I had a summer of studying for the bar at hand and I knew that even if I had a job offer, it would be contingent upon me passing the bar.

However, once the last weekend of July rolled past and the California bar examination was complete, those feelings of doubt and worry began to sink in.

I took out $100,000.00 worth of student loans to fund my legal education.  My parents and a nice scholarship funded my undergrad education.  Believing that my parents had done enough to support my dreams financially, I did not feel that it was right to ask or expect them to pay for my legal education. 

So, the timing of my worry largely coincided with the realization that my first payment on my student loans was due around November 2009.  Without a job, it was highly unlikely that I would be able to pay a $1,200.00 per month student loan payment.  So, not only getting a job, but also one that made enough to pay my sizeable loan and for my lavish southern California lifestyle became a constant worry.

I applied for nearly every legal job I was qualified for in southern California.  I had numerous sketchy interviews.  Once, I arrived at an “interview” only to realize that it was at a house in the middle of a suburban neighborhood in California with no signs that it was a law office.  Realizing that I wouldn’t be able to pay off any loan if I was attacked and killed, I opted to drive off before ever entering the house for the “interview.”

By mid-October, my job search hit a point of hopelessness.  I was doing everything I could to find work and my funds were nearly depleted.  Given that a huge student loan payment was about to come due, I was clearly in dire need of a job.

At that point, I had done almost everything I could.  I did what I needed to do in law school to set myself up for success afterwards.  I was searching earnestly for a job.  I attended countless networking events.  Nothing was breaking.

Then, on October 28, 2009, when I got into bed, I picked up my Bible and opened it to a random page.  I looked down and found the sixth chapter of Matthew.  I truly believe that God sent me this message to calm me on my job search and to reassure me that everything would work out.

The sixth chapter of Matthew is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  It is one of Jesus’ most well-known, and longest, sermons.  It was given shortly after Jesus was baptized and has come to define how many Christians live their life.

While I found much peace in the entire chapter, it was verses 25 through 27 that really spoke to me that night:

25Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

What an idea!  How does worry help us in our day-to-day life?  It doesn’t.  After reading those verses, I re-evaluated my entire life and tried endlessly to think of one thing that I absolutely needed throughout it that I wasn’t provided.  I could not think of a thing.  God always found His way into my life right on time and has always given me just what I need.  Upon reading those verses, I knew the same would be true with my job search.

The next morning, I experienced a bit of magic.  A law firm that I applied to called me in the morning and asked if I was still interested in the position.  I said that I was.  They asked if I could come in for an interview that day.  I said I could.  When I got there, the partner explained the position, said he was impressed by my resume and that if I wanted the position, it was mine.  No questions were asked of me, other than why I went to the Colorado School of Mines for undergrad and if I could put in a few hours that day.

I still get chills thinking about this moment in my life.  I truly believe that the moment I threw worry to the wayside and handed my job search over to the Lord, that I was given what I needed.  Sure, it wasn’t my dream job.  But, it was a job.  And on top of that, it was a job in a nice office, in southern California that allowed me to pay my bills.  I was provided for.

Some of you may be going through a similar situation.  The important thing to remember, is that when it comes to a job search, you need to do two things.  First, you need to do everything necessary on your end to make yourself a great candidate.  That means, taking education seriously, pursuing networking events, developing strong professional relationships, gaining experience through internships and developing knowledge of your field.  If you have done everything within your control to facilitate the development of those items, you are as prepared as you can be.  The next thing to do, is to put yourself out there and let nature take its course.  This is the oftentimes frustrating and sometimes lengthy part of the equation.  However, the one thing that won’t make this portion any easier, is worrying about it.  For me, giving my worries to God was the answer that provided me peace in what would have otherwise been a frustrating situation.  And, the moment I did that, my frustrations ended.  I truly believe that if you do the same, your frustrations will end, too.

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