Question All Assumptions

This week I am sharing with you an email question I got and my reply to that. I received this question after the last newsletter, which made me think. I am sharing it more broadly if it can help someone else.

Here is a summarized version of the question before we get into the reply –

Q: I have been experiencing sleepless nights due to a lack of a job. I am sending out countless emails at night to HR managers. Yes, these contain tailor-made resumes for the job profile I’m applying for with specific cover letters.
This speaks to my situation as a fresher who graduated in the middle of a pandemic. Is it not professional to write emails at this time of the night? Is that why I’m not getting any replies? Don’t I deserve to receive a simple message saying, hey, you’re not the right fit at the moment? Now you may ask, why not do this activity in the daytime? Well, I’m preparing for management entrance examinations because higher studies are the only choice I have left now.

Here is part of my email reply

To be true to you, I cannot provide you answers because all real answers need to come from yourself. If I try to offer you some tips and shortcuts, I will not be honest with you. None of that works. Of course, I can help you explore, but that can only go to a certain extent.

First of all, let me ask you something, ‘Why do you have sleepless nights due to lack of Job?’.
Don’t be surprised by my question. You may be thinking that it’s natural to be worried about not having a job. I will then ask you again, ‘Why it seems natural to you?’

You don’t need to answer this to me. If you think it’s an appropriate question, explore it for yourself. Be cautious; I never said you should not be worried, or you should not have sleepless nights for lack of jobs. I am asking something different (it may sound the same, but it’s not). Explore and find out what is making you so worried about not having a job. There is something, and you will be able to find it out best.

If you think this advice is coming from someone who is well settled and doesn’t know anything about not having a job or how difficult life can be, let me share one story from my experience that may help you.

I was studying CA and got stuck in the CA final. I was very well in my studies all along, cleared all school and college exams with good marks, even got state level ranks. I cleared earlier levels of CA comfortably and even one group of CA Final. But these few subjects were proving to be roadblocks.
Attempt after attempt, I could not clear these. It was a very disappointing situation. I had lost all hopes. I started asking myself if I could not clear in the last attempt, how will I do in this attempt. Nothing has changed; I am the same person. I am preparing the same way. There is no way I can clear it.

I was more stressed because my family had many expectations for me. They had always seen me being a meticulous student. I was disappointing them.

My family was noticing this, and they were worried about me. They had never seen me so stressed and disappointed before.

I was very close to my grandfather from childhood. He was also observing me during these days and was worried about me but never said anything.

One day I was sitting with my books but not studying because of stress. He came to me and asked. Why are you so worried?

I said because I am not able to clear.

He said, Yes, but why are you worried about that?

I didn’t answer because I thought wasn’t it obvious. It’s obvious to be distressed about failing the same exam again and again.

He continued Why you are so worried about the clearing exam. If you don’t feel like studying, take a break. We will eat less, but there is no point in getting so stressed about clearing the exam. You will pass when you have to. Stop focussing on it. Study how much you feel like studying. We will see what happens.

That one conversation took all pressure off me. I assumed that my family is worried about my failure, but they were more concerned about my stress. It made me think, why am I so stressed about the clearing exam. What is the problem with failing?

I introspected and found out that all along, I had considered myself a great student. That was my identity. These failures were challenging that identity. I asked myself if I was an average student, will I take so much pressure. Maybe not.

I had never worried so much about studies ever before in my life. Then I thought perhaps that’s my strength. Perhaps I need to let go of the idea to clear exam and study without thinking of the outcome as I had always done.

I passed that attempt, and life changed from there.

What was stopping me was my self-created pressure to pass, my self-image.

I don’t know if this helps you but ask the question to yourself. If you have an option to do masters, what’s making you have sleepless nights for lack of a job. Again, I am not saying you should not worry. I am just saying, look, and find out what is making you so worried.

Our base programming says that if things are not as we expect these to be, we should be worried. Is it correct?

Whenever you are too much worried, sit down and find out what is making you worried. What’s exactly hurting. Is there any actual need to get worried or its just basic programming? Do we need to actually focus so much on outcome and stress? Question basic assumptions.

1 Comment

  1. Najwa R says:

    Very true! It reminds me of the fact that when we think of any issue deeply, it only gets bigger than ever. Rather retreat from it and approach it from another perspective. Questioning the assumptions as you mentioned is an interesting perspective to adopt.


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