This is the first entry of what I hope to be an ongoing project. When I started this blog I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone. That nothing was wrong with me because I couldn’t find work, that I wasn’t flawed or doing some horrible job seeking faux-pas. Now I want others to know that they aren’t alone either.
I’ve never met Kat. In fact, I hadn’t even conversed with her much on Twitter until I started looking for people to guest blog. Thanks to this project I know that she is a Californian dog person living in Oregon, she likes eating cheese, getting her booze on, and watching Flashdance (if she’s anything like me those three activities happen at the same time). She’s also a single mother with a shoe addiction (now I know why my mom has all those shoes). This is her story which has amazing parallels to my story.
I’m coming up on a one year anniversary next week. One that I never wanted or expected to have. On February 2nd, I will be unemployed for a year. One. Whole. Year. It’s been eventful. And boring. Depressing. Stressful. Lonely. Scary. I’ve probably learned more about myself than I ever wanted to. And about my friends and who they are.
When I was first laid off, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’d stay up until 1 or 2 in the morning. Watching TV. Playing online. Doing nothing really important. I just didn’t know what to do. Sleep didn’t seem as necessary but yet it also seemed like a waste of time. I was supposed to be looking for a job. And I really did at first. I was so hopeful because there seemed to be jobs to apply to. Until they all dried up. And none of them called me. I seriously thought that I’d have a job within the first two months. That didn’t happen.
When the weather warmed up, I took advantage of my “vacation”. I was out in the sun every day. I got the best tan of my life. I still applied for jobs, I just didn’t expect anything from them. I got what I expected.
I considered moving. The reasons for me staying where I live seemed to be disappearing one by one. My family moved away a few years ago. I ended a long-term relationship. Now the job was gone. So I applied out of state. I got a call for an interview, but they wanted someone yesterday and weren’t interested in waiting for anyone to move. And then my daughter started school again and it seemed like my window of opportunity had closed.
Speaking of school, I decided to go back myself. I’m not in love with any of the jobs that I’ve done. Even the ones I was good at. Nothing really excited me, yet here I was, looking to do the same things over again. Trying desperately to get a job that I didn’t really want. I thought about the parts of my jobs that I’ve enjoyed and the things that I’m really good at. I spent a couple of months researching schools and their programs before choosing one online. It’s been the one thing to boost my self-esteem. Seeing the grades (A’s!) that I know I deserve help to foster the feeling that I’m on the right track. Finally.
Oh yeah, that self-esteem issue? That’s been the worst part of my last year. Rejection after rejection after deafening silence after rejection after crickets tends to tear down what’s left of one’s limited self esteem. There have been days where I’ve woken up and checked my phone only to find a rejection email from a job that I was really counting on. I don’t get out of bed on those days. It seems pointless. Somehow I seem pointless. I won’t even get into the depression I suffer from which is only compounded by the rejection and the lack of money and the frequent loneliness. Seriously, there are days I wouldn’t even speak out loud if I didn’t live with dogs.
What have I learned from all of this? Aside from how frugal I can be and how long I can go without buying groceries, I’ve learned how resourceful I am. I’ve learned how great my friends are and how much support I really have. I’ve learned to rely on other people. But just a little bit. I’ve learned it’s okay to break down now and then. And even when I don’t want to be strong because it’s so exhausting and I just want to give up instead, I’m really not a quitter. I get down, but I don’t stay down.
So, a year. I’m looking at filing for my unemployment extension next week but I’m also hoping for an interview. At my old job. Seems they’ve got more work than people to do it. Ironic, isn’t it?
Yeah, I’ve also learned to laugh this year. A lot. Because sometimes it’s the only thing that makes sense.
You can find Kat’s blog here or find her on twitter @Kat_Alexander