Job application anxiety and disappointment
January 22, 2014 12:16 PM Subscribe
At the beginning of this year I finished my courses and exams to become an emergency medical technician. I finally have the certification I that allows me to work in the field, but I’m fighting against paralyzing anxiety that’s making it hard to apply for jobs. This is something that I've struggled with the past, but the stakes feel a lot higher this time and I’m looking for advice on how to proceed.
posted by arcolz to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The last time I asked Metafilter about this I received a lot of good advice that proved successful in getting me a low-stakes job slinging coffee, but I feel like this situation is different enough that it warrants a new question. Whereas previously I was struggling with applying to any job at all, right now I feel like I'm dealing with the shame and fear of disappointing the people close to me if I don’t succeed in my chosen field.
I get into these terrible cycles where when I feel the pressure of high expectations I just shut down, afraid of failure. This repeated over and over again starting in middle school and continuing until I had to leave university, unable to complete my coursework due to severe depression and anxiety. I felt like I was stuck in a loop where the teacher would identify me as a "smart" or "gifted" student (descriptions I've grown to hate) because of my high test scores or class participation and expect more of me than the others in my classes. This would have the opposite effect because I’d stop submitting work or going to class for fear of disappointing them.
As cheesy as it sounds, getting that low-wage, low-stress coffee job and being able to do really well at it gave me back some self-esteem and willpower, and motivated me to get back into school. I decided that EMS would be a good path for me because it involved a combination of hands-on skills, a good amount of book knowledge, and the opportunity to help people in my community. I enrolled in a program at a technical college and for the first time in my life I consistently did really well in my classes.
My academic adviser, a multi-decade veteran of EMS, took me under her wing and generously mentored me. I was given the opportunity to take the lead on scenarios, attend conferences, and generally just be a kick-ass student without reservations for the first time ever. She often talked to me about how she expected me to become a leader and improve the whole field of EMS, but instead of being overwhelmed by my anxiety I actually felt up to the task for once.
Then it came time for the national certification exams, I totally rocked my practical hands-on portion of the test. The written portion of the test was delayed for several weeks due to issues with the testing site and moving back to my hometown with my SO. When I finally took it I was convinced I had failed. I felt like total crap for the 3 or 4 days it took to receive the results and learn that I had passed.
Even though I received my certification, I don't feel like I deserve it because I feel like I was just lucky with my guesses instead of actually knowing the curriculum. This has caused all sorts of other concerns to bubble to the surface:
1) During my required clinical time I only really experienced one true emergency call and the adrenaline turned me into a useless idiot. I'm great at scenarios, but I'm afraid I'm not up to the task of dealing with the real thing.
2) The culture of EMS, as least what I saw of it, was super macho. More than one paramedic during my clinicals commented that I seemed "too smart" to be in EMS. Do I really want to work in an atmosphere where people are shamed for that?
3) One of my EMS instructors promised to help me find to find a job with a certain organization I had my heart set on, but now it seems like they are only hiring people with a higher level of certification that I don't have and won't be able to get without months of additional school. I’m disappointing her by not being able to take advantage of her help.
4) I’m worried that while I'm unemployed I'm losing everything I learned, and when it comes time to put it to use I’ll be putting someone's life at risk.
Finally, and most importantly, my parents and my SO have been counting on me to get this job. I've moved back in with my parents until I save up enough money to once again get my own place. They've been incredible generous by letting me stay in their house and I feel like a burden on my loved ones.
Sorry this has been so long. I guess I need some impartial third-party advice as to what I should do. Should I just find another crappy job in the mean time to take the pressure off? Should I go back to school to get a higher EMS certification or even my bachelor's? Do push through and get the EMS job I've been aiming for. Something else? Any input is well appreciated.