My Personal Experience in the Unemployment Realm
The sky is the limit!
In October of 2012, I moved to Boston to be with my boyfriend at the time, who had just acquired a new job. I had to leave the place I had worked at for nearly 3 years. It was a completely different lifestyle. Change can be good, but it can also be hard.
Work was a big part of who I was. I was fast and energetic, fit, productive, friendly, and I always had a smile on my face. I felt secure, and I had money. Not a lot, but enough. Without a job, I struggled with my self-image. I always enjoy self-assessment exercises, but had trouble answering the question “who am I?” Without the one piece of the puzzle that is usually there, it is hard to answer that question.
Furthermore, experience causes change. Without a job, I didn’t have the same kind of structure. I didn’t know what is going to happen day to day. I didn’t have that same sense of accomplishment. Sitting around the house all day caused me to gain some weight, which was bad for my self-esteem. I’m used to interacting with people every day, so I felt lonely and secluded at home.
I spent a few weeks settling into my new place and trying to figure out what to do with my life, where to start, and how to deal with the inevitable internal struggle. In November I started the long process of finding a job. When I started getting information together for my job-hunt documents, I struggled with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. There are so many jobs in this area, but there are so many people, too, and it seems like the majority of them are more educated than I am. But no matter how much I wish I could turn back time and find a way to stay in college, there’s no way to do that. All I can do is move forward. But I have found that action is the best cure for feeling helpless .
During this process of hunting for a job, I came up with this advice:
~ Keep in mind that many people are unemployed- you’re not alone!
It is encouraging to know that we are not alone. Many other people are going through a similar situation. In my case, I had it much better than others, and I always kept that in mind. I have read so many stories of others who are jobless, and they break my heart. Things could be so much worse.
~ Acknowledge your situation, and move on.
Dwelling on your problems for too long doesn’t solve anything. It is hard to avoid at times, but try to accept the situation for what it is, and move on.
~ Try writing your feelings, your plans and your goals down in a journal- or a notebook, if you prefer.
I have been writing in journals since I was a kid, so it comes natural to me. Writing is therapeutic, and recording goals on paper is a positive step forward. It is a physical reminder of what can be done, and helps you focus on the tasks.
~ When you think negative thoughts, counter them with positive thoughts.
There’s always a positive side. Don’t beat yourself up, encourage yourself. And if it would help, take action. When I feel bad about my weight gain, I look in the mirror and accept the way I look now, and then either exercise that day, or do something to make myself feel pretty.
~ Be thankful for what you do have.
This exercise has helped me during many challenging times in my life. No matter who you are, no matter how bad things are, there are always things to be thankful for. Focus on positive feelings, and you will feel uplifted, at least for a little while.
~ Try to surround yourself with supportive friends and family.
I am thankful to have supportive friends, and I make an effort to remain connected to family. I may not have as rich of a social life as I did when I worked, but I visit with my loved ones, and communicate online. If I am feeling discouraged at all, they reach out to me and remind me why I should remain hopeful. One thing that can make life feel so much worse is being around people who are negative and “toxic”. I have had people like that in my life, and once they were out of the picture I was able to live a more meaningful life without feeling bad about it. But in reality, you can’t always abandon those who are not positive, so just try to make sure they don’t affect you negatively. Don’t let anyone drag you down. If possible, make them feel better.
~ It probably goes without saying that when you lose a job you need to find ways to pay your bills.
What expenses you have and how you can come up with money greatly varies by person. Some may have a “significant other” that has money to pay for the important bills during the job hunt. Some may qualify for unemployment pay, or social security benefits. Some people may have a nice little savings or investments they can dip into. Some may have things they could sell. Some may decide to look around for a part-time job, to hold them over until they can find something more substantial. Of course, in some places even that can be challenging. Even though it is not a pleasant thing to do, it is important to get your finances in order as soon as possible.
~ Try to stick to a routine, so your day has structure and is productive.
When you are not working, it is amazing how time-consuming job tasks can be. There are plenty of things to do to fill up your day. It is a good time to use any time-management and organizational skills you may have, or learn new ones. Think of every day as a learning experience.
~ Remember to make time for yourself regularly, and to spend time with your loved ones.
If you never make time to relax and do the things you love, you will get burned out. When you are job-hunting, be as productive as you can, but when you carve time out for yourself, try not to worry. And making time for loved ones is important to your relationships and your mental health.
If you lost your job, what would be your biggest concern?
~ Redefine who you are
Some people may not have their self-image wrapped up in their job as much as I did, so it may not be an issue. But this is a good time to assess who you are. Think about your values, your skills and abilities, your personality traits, your goals, and what you enjoy doing. Not only will it help you define who you are as a person, but it will also help in determining what you would like to do with your life (if you don’t know already, or if you decide you want to use this opportunity to steer your life in a new direction). It is also very handy in constructing a resume, cover letter, or even just a “pitch” to an employer. When you land an interview, knowing yourself is very important, and being prepared is the key to obtaining a job.
In conclusion, I have learned a lot during my job hunt. The journey of rediscovering myself has been enlightening, and I am seeking to improve my skills. Even though my future is filled with uncertainty, I know that I will get a job in time. I just need to be patient and diligent. I go through periods of discouragement, but usually reflection and action are encouraging, and move me forward. If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards.