Career Corner: Time For a Hug From Mom

This week I’ve been in Florida visiting my mother. I promised her that after we both were vaccinated, I would visit. My mom, who is 86, has managed well during the pandemic: she is sociable and has kept herself busy and safe. But the need for face-to-face connection, including things we take for granted such as a warm embrace, is very much needed right now.

As we slowly and cautiously venture out of our homes and from under our masks, it will be important to prioritize what we should tend to first. Jumping back into the exploration of work and a career change must be a thoughtful and strategic endeavor. We should resist doing what the moment calls for and think more deeply about what we might focus on first.

Having our social and personal relationships in order is a first priority at all times. Though we might feel compelled to start right away with applying for jobs and seeking interviews, take a moment now to see if you need to reconnect in a more intimate way with family and friends. Often family members – particularly parents – might not share how they feel and the loss and loneliness they have experienced during this period. My mom would say “Don’t worry about me, everything is fine here.” But parents do that: they don’t want to burden their children and will put their own needs last. Don’t be fooled. Parents and all those who have been isolated need affection right now.

If you can travel now and can afford it, and do it safety, you should. Taking care of your own mental wellness is important, but also if travelling to visit someone who has been isolated during this time can be part of that, I would encourage you do that. Tending to those relationships right now will make the other things you need to do in searching for work better for you.

This reconnection in person might reassure you of the potential of the future. Knowing that family members are safe and well can lessen a burden as you pursue your career searching strategy. Mom might be not able to get you a job, but she can possibly relieve some of your anxiety, and allow you to better focus on the work at hand. A hug from her can go a long way to reassuring you of the good things ahead.

—David J. Smith

David J. Smith (Fulbright Scholar, Estonia 2003-2004) is a career coach and the author of Peace Jobs: A Student’s Guide to Starting a Career Working for Peace (Information Age Publishing 2016). He is on the career advisory board of the Peace and Collaborative Development Network. David writes regularly on career issues at davidjsmithconsulting.com. He can reached at davidjsmith@davidjsmithconsulting.com.

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