Jacob Kohn
Adventurous & Anxious Gingi

And sometimes, it’s okay not to be okay

Foreword: I’m not trying to give advice, just sharing my narrative and putting my perspective out there. If there’s something that you find applicable or relatable, I feel that I put my energy into the universe.

[Thursday morning 2:00 am] As I write this, I just got back to my apartment in central Tel Aviv, after attending a networking event for this week’s DLD Innovation Festival. I opened up my laptop and started to write, because my jet lag is in prime time mode after arriving back from a visit in the US two days ago, just in time for elections (exercising my right in the democratic process woot-woot). I attended an event at a trendy bar with the aim to learn something interesting regarding the topic of “Love & Tech”; how technology has impacted and shaped the way we form intimate and romantic relationships with others in the day & age of social media and other channels. From my take away, there are great things and also some not so great things from technology’s influence in our lives, and that’s the general sentiment that I have been feeling as of recently, towards everything. One day can be amazing, the next day a nightmare, the following a general sense of blasé, and then it all starts over. It’s a roller coaster of emotions, which can be exciting and terrifying, depending on your take on roller coasters. I sat down immediately and had to acknowledge that sometimes things are out of our control, and I try to put things in proportion by saying to myself, “look how lucky and fortunate I am. I have my health, a group of friends I can rely on, a roof over my head, food in my fridge, etc. Then I compare all the things I have in my life that I’m fortunate of, and then my brain decides, “hey, let’s compare those things with the complete opposite scenarios effortlessly (worse scenario a, b or c…your pick).” Which only leads to more anxiety building up, which was the opposite of the intention I was aiming for. In short, I’m in a place in my life where I have an actual idea of what I want to do professionally (for the foreseeable future, I’m no fortune teller, and things change and evolve) and also personally (how & where do I see myself growing, what are my personal goals, and with whom?). I have the confidence and self-awareness of what my capabilities and strengths are as me, as Jake, to bring to a team and the workforce as a strategic player. In addition, striving to be the best that I can be in my personal life by living a healthy, active lifestyle that has a fair balance of friends, hobbies, chores, learning, and some downtime.

And even with all the aspirations and positive energy that I try to put out there for myself, sometimes it feels like the Universe is telling you, “not so fast honey”. Well In these next couple of paragraphs, I will try to share my insight from certain experiences I’ve encountered (currently encountering) and how I faced each one.

Unemployed (the tumultuous tale of reflection, reassessing, growing, breaking down, and building it back up again)

As of recently, I am currently unemployed, with not so much of an emphasis on “fun” as some might take it, because I currently have no chill. I was working a temp job in hi-tech company, and it was great experience to get an insight of what interests me in terms of a role and understand what traits and skills I can bring to the role/team. My time at the company ended, I flew to the States for my sister’s wedding with an uncertainty with what will be when I return. I was actively looking for work (applying, interviewing, networking) while simultaneously keeping my performance up in the job I had at the time, which everyone does cause that’s what one has to do. Having arrived back in Israel with the uncertainty of what role I can continue to pursue from now throughout the holidays may feel daunting, because it is. 

In the past three months it’s been a repetition with the hiring process: reaching out to an individual in a company (after some superb investigating on LinkedIn), editing resumes, applying through referrals, phone screening, home assignments, 1st interview / presentation, 2nd interview, etc…). The process can be exhausting and can leave one on the brink of hysteria after repeatedly experiencing the same thing over and over again: rejection. It can leave one so triggered that you just want to curse and then cocoon into your bed while you binge watch Netflix to ease the frustration. This may sound like an appealing way to deal with the situation at first, and I think it’s important to acknowledge those feelings and understand that what you feel is legitimate. However, in the long run, it doesn’t sound like the healthiest way to approach the situation (from my experience). It’s healthy to acknowledge the frustration, but it’s important to convert that energy into a more positive outlet and understand that ‘I am worth it and I am capable of succeeding the role of “Blank“‘(I don’t like saying job because it sounds too mundane, and I try to make myself stand out).  The job market is competitive, with many individuals competing for the same role, and sometimes not everything is about me. There is always a new day, with new opportunities to grow and learn and connect. My takeaway is to be persistent, don’t lose sight at the goals that have been set, and keep on persevering, because I’m accountable of my self, success, and motivation.

Knowing When to Get Help (because sometimes life gets complicated)

If you’ve met me in the past half-year, you know how much I advocate for therapy as much as I advocate for Lizzo (it’s 2019, if you haven’t heard of her, get on it). I was having a very hard time when I first moved to Israel, for personal reasons, which is why I started to go to therapy. I was coming to terms with my sexuality, which I felt had left me emotionless and empty for years until I couldn’t take it any longer. I was 25 years old when I came out, a little over 2.5 years ago, and I see the person that I’ve grown to be within that time. It hasn’t always been the easiest or prettiest at times, especially when I feel that I’ve had a developmental delay in the emotional romantic department compared to how I think society is fabricated to appear. For me, it felt like, “Wow! This is how it actually feels to have feelings for someone, I’m open to it!” But just like everything else, you have heartbreaks and have to navigate through the naive phases, just like any teenager in high school. However, being older and having that process being sped up and intensified (I feel like my 20’s are just an extension of puberty and teenage years). In the beginning, it felt new, exciting, scary, lonely, overwhelming; all of the feels essentially. I realized that once I accepted myself, all other parts in my life started to make sense too (not all at once). I felt a cloud of fog slowly dissipate from my brain about all other things in my life (what will I do, where will I live, etc.). I don’t want to say that coming to terms with my sexuality made everything more clear, but I’ll try to phrase it like this. Imagine you have a secret, and you are so afraid of someone knowing about it for whatever reason because how they may perceive you, act towards you, or so on. It’s terrifying, and there’s this inner guilt that eats away from within, leaving you empty and tired (the depression), and you don’t know what to do. That’s how I felt, which looking back on, I am very fortunate that I have a supportive & loving family. Also my friends that I surround myself with are what kept me sane during rough patches. 

I didn’t intend for this to be a coming out story, just trying to share a point. Jump to this year in January 2019, I was getting released from the army after serving 1.5 years as a volunteer. I felt very nervous and had a lot of anxiety towards the end of my army service, because I was wanting everything to happen right away: I wanted to land a decent paying job in a role that I would enjoy, move apartments, travel, see family, essentially a lot of changes. For me, the army was a very rewarding time where I grew and developed as a person. However it was very difficult period time as well, especially being a Lone Soldier (despite having close friends and host families that made me feel welcomed and loved). In addition, I was still recently out while in the army, and still was coming to terms with that and how I see myself in LGBTQ community. I was talking with someone that helped me as a lone soldier when I was in the army, and she referred me to a Psychologist. It’s been half a year, but I see the difference in my behavior, attitude and general outlook on life. I never looked down on or delegitimize therapy, I just never considered that I would need it because my self perception was, “I’m not going through too bad of things”. But that’s not the case. It’s not a matter of how my life is compared to someone else; it’s a personal experience according to the individuals’ narrative and is aimed to help reassess, reflect, and grow through discussing experiences and feelings that we lock away over time. I’m by no means qualified to give advice; I’m just here sharing my own experience, in order to break down stigmatization. Sometimes life gets complicated, and it’s reassuring to know that it’s a human experience.

Utilizing Resources – there are an abundance of resources, you just need to ask (it’s like a open door to knowledge that never closes)

One thing that I am grateful for are the resources that I have as Gay Oleh (didn’t intend for that to rhyme) that also served as a Lone Solider. There are many government-sponsored organizations to help Olim acclimate, but there are some very grass-root organizations/groups that serve an important purpose as well.

From my own narrative, I’ve come across many great resources through social media platforms, such as Facebook. One group/page that is a nice platform for Olim trying to network or discuss all things tech is “Olim in Tech” (it is what it sounds like). Ranging from helping Olim find jobs/opportunities/networking in Tech. They have meet ups, events every now and then, and their Facebook group is a forum for people to connect. 

Speaking of Tech, another Facebook group that I came across that has been great for connecting & networking with members of the LGBTQ+ fam’ in Israel is “LGBTech in Israel“. They also are a forum where you can post that you’re looking for a job as a “whatever pertains to you“, networking and events sometimes. As a gay man living in Israel, it’s nice to know that there is a space where you can professionally connect with others in your industry and have a support network.

Lastly, for any released Lone Soldiers, such as myself, who have studied before joining the army, I’ve been fortunate to utilize some organizations out there to assist Lone Soldiers with Career Development / Financial Consultation / Educational Advising. One such organization is Wings, or in Hebrew כנפיים. They have advisors to work with released Lone Soldiers, and it’s at your disposal!

Another organization that offers something similar for released Lone Soldiers is an organization called Mentor for Life or מנטור לחיים. In addition to providing resources, they have an option to pair released Lone Soldiers with a mentor according to their career path/studies/whatever the individuals’ personal case is. 

Wrapping it all Up

If you managed to make it this point, despite my tangents and puns, I applaud you. I’m just one guy in his late 20’s trying to navigate life, and I wrote this piece for me mainly (I don’t consider myself to be an influencer, per se). But, if there’s anything that I’ve learned in this past year that I can share with you, it’s that it can be stressful at times, and sometimes it’s easy to blow not so big things out of proportion. Life is fleeting, and it’s important to appreciate the moments that we have each day. It’s okay to wake up some days and not be okay, but recognize it, acknowledge it, and know that it doesn’t determine what the following day will be. From me to you, I believe in all of us, and wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and Sweet New Year.

About the Author
Gayleh (Gay Oleh), once hailing from the middle west and ventured to the Middle East. Avid adventurer, investigator, and passion discoverer. I like to tell stories and embrace the power of story telling to leverage different narratives.
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