Unemployment is terrifying. It's a state of limbo that makes it impossible to stop deliberating over the future.
In a society that celebrates wealth and often judges people based on their profession, unemployment feels like a curse.
The worst part of being unemployed is all of the rejection. The endless cycle of cover letters, résumés, interviews and impersonal "you didn't get the job" emails chip away at your self-esteem. It's easy to feel like there's no point to any of it.
The longer you stay unemployed, the more you fear no one will ever hire you. After all, conventional wisdom tells us that gaps on our résumé are a sign that a person is unemployable.
Millennials understand this perhaps more than anyone, as most graduated from high school or college at the height of the Great Recession.
This generation has struggled far more than its parents in terms of finding employment. Moreover, while the economy has improved, many young people are still actively searching for jobs.
For those out there who are beginning to lose hope, don't give up just yet. It may not seem like it at present, but all of the rejection you're experiencing now is making you stronger in the long run.
Your worth as a person is not measured by the position you hold or the amount of money you make.
Life is full of ups and downs. The only way to ensure success is to remain undeterred in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
Persistence Is The Key To Success
Success often appears to fall into people's laps, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Many of the most accomplished individuals in history experienced significant hurdles prior to making it to the top.
Asia's richest man, Jack Ma, once struggled to get hired at Kentucky Fried Chicken, for example. Indeed, the founder of Alibaba Group and native of Hangzhou, China is no stranger to rejection.
Before KFC, he also failed his college entrance exam, and was turned down by the local police department when he came looking for a job.
Ma remained determined, however, and decided that he needed to better himself in order to achieve his goals.
He'd always desired to learn English, and often biked 45-minutes to the closest hotel to practice speaking it with foreigners.
Eventually, he began giving free tours to English-speaking foreigners around his city, and became fluent enough to teach it in local schools.
Ma's persistence and drive ultimately paid off. He landed a job as a translator in 1995, which led him to travel to the United States.
While in America, Ma became enamored of the possibilities of the Internet. This is what inspired him to found Alibaba, and the rest is history.
He might be worth $22.6 billion now, but Ma never would've gotten to where he is had he not been persistent.
He went from being a poor English teacher to becoming a globally respected billionaire. He faced unemployment, consistent rejection and poverty, but was still willing to make the effort to hone the skills he needed to get ahead.
He is a testament to the fact that monetary rewards shouldn't be a person's only inspiration to put the work in. This shouldn't be one's gauge for achievement.
In other words, one might say that Ma's greatest accomplishment was having the will to push forward when everyone else told him "no."
We could all learn a great deal from him, as well as the many others who have shown that unemployment is no excuse to stop working.
Teach Yourself To Remain Resilient, Never Give Up
Success is impossible without resilience. As psychology professor Angela Lee Duckworth puts it:
Grit is sticking with your future — day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years — and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it's a marathon, not a sprint.
When we're facing difficulties, such as unemployment, it can be tempting to look for an easy way out. Yet, no one ever leads a truly fulfilling life by taking the simplest route, and these kind of decisions are often made out of fear.
In essence, the only way we can truly grow and learn is through struggle. Thus, success takes patience and determination.
With that said, while "Never give up" is an inspirational motto, it's also easier said than done. In order to remain truly persistent, we have to be like Jack Ma.
We have to get up in the morning with a clear goal in mind, and set out to achieve it, no excuses. In the face of rejection, we have to fight to stay busy.
We have to learn to see there are rewards beyond money, such as unlocking new opportunities by making the effort to learn a new language.
Simultaneously, we have to learn to accept help when we need it. It often seems as though many people falsely assume successful people got to where they are completely independently.
This couldn't be further from the truth. Everyone, no matter how self-sufficient, received help somewhere along the way.
Jack Ma, for example, wouldn't have been able to establish Alibaba without the help of a few friends and $60,000.
Don't take rejection as a sign you're unworthy; use it as a source of motivation.
We all have the capacity to learn, change and progress. Success is measured by how well we take advantage of these qualities.
Citations: Jack Ma (Forbes), Meet Alibabas Jack Ma The Steve Jobs Of China Is Just Getting Started (Huffington Post), Success Requires Grit and Resilience (Huffington Post), Angela Lee Duckworth (Ted), How to Be Resilient 8 Steps to Success When Life Gets Hard (Time), The Key of Persistence (Huffington Post), Alibabas Jack Ma From Crazy To Chinas Richest Man (USA Today), JK Rowling 10 facts about the writer (The Telegraph ), Top 10 College Dropouts (Time), The Unluckiest Generation What Will Become of Millennials (The Atlantic)