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How can I be a good friend?

A good friend of mine is going through a really tough time right now and I'm feeling at a loss as to how to help her.

She's quite a bit older than me (about ten years, so early forties). She moved back to our city about three years ago, leaving behind a high-powered career in the progressive NGO sector in DC. She was looking to focus more on family and perhaps settle down. Things have not gone according to plan. She's struggled hugely to rebuild her career here and has been unemployed or severely underemployed for the past year. She's interviewed for a lot of jobs but hasn't gotten any offers and she's starting to feel like something is wrong with her and is getting very depressed and down on herself. She's incredibly skilled, competent and experienced in her field, but for some reason, she's struggling to make it in the competitive job market in our city and she feels it's because potential employers don't like her personally or that she must have burnt bridges by being too aggressive in her early career. So she's running out of money and has decided her only hope is to look for work outside the city, in smaller communities north of here. She's terribly depressed about this and feels like she is a complete failure. She's scared of moving to a community where she "has no one" and feels like she'll never rebuild her career, find a partner, make a family, or own her own home.

I just don't know how to help her. I can't really do much on the job front, as I don't have any contacts in her sector. I'm trying to be supportive but nothing I say can really make her excited about the prospect of moving to a small community where she doesn't know anyone for probably three to five years.


I really care about this friend and I'm very sad to see her struggling like this. She's so talented and passionate about her work and has so much to give to the right employer, but she just can't seem to get any traction here. I don't want her to give up on herself, but her situation admittedly is pretty sucky right now.

This might be a ridiculous question, but how do you support someone through tough life stuff like this, when you can't do anything to make their situation different? I feel really powerless to help her.

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