Welcome to unemployment. Join the club. Unfortunately the club is surprisingly and frighteningly large and you don’t get anything for joining. It just sucks, big time. Take it from someone who’s been a member for a while now. There isn’t an honorary status before you ask. How long you’ve been in or frequently you come back doesn’t make a difference. Membership is non-discriminatory, open to anyone, from anywhere, of any colour, class, creed, race, height, social, financial or spiritually background and where you did or didn’t go to school doesn’t matter either. Here, we’re all the same. Broke.
In the beginning it’s not too bad. Sort of like a mini-vacation. After-all, you’ll be working again in no time so why not enjoy the break. You stay up and sleep in, eat when you feel like and generally do what you like. Day time programming is exciting. At first. You take yoga, eat ice-cream, and browse the classifieds being very selective, looking for that perfect job. At first. Then the bills come in and the funds get low and the daytime programming gets to be too familiar and boring. Staying up late is silly, only re-runs show and you’ve seen the re-runs too many times now. Before you know it, it’s been months. And some of those jobs you may have glanced over get your full attention now. And then you start sleeping in. Waking up is harder and less frequent. And no-one else seems to get it. People who love you want you to get out of bed, get dressed, come out, watch a movie, laugh a little, be yourself and other such drivel. All you want to do is disappear. See it’s all very confusing. Your world doesn’t make sense anymore, it changed without warning and it’s been too long now to still have faith, but somehow, life seems to have gone on.
For those who still dare to venture outside (careful, someone could see you), just walk past a news-stand and see covers with Stars still showing up on red carpets. All the best glossies are still printing the evidence of this fact and hark!, dare to tell who they wore and worse yet, who they arrived with. Staying in? Me too. But turn the telly on and find the wrong channel and a super cute and wonderfully insensitive host will help you recreate one of those same red carpet looks for less. Less? Seriously? I’ve got less and it isn’t enough to help me look like that. Not that I can afford to go anywhere.
Of course the reminders that you’re not in the land of the gainfully employed are evident in little things too. Instant coffee has replaced the morning double double espresso from the café. Flip flops drag around instead of heels. Nail polish is chipped, hair needs a trim, designer liquid soaps are replaced with the economically sensible bars and steak for dinner means burgers. Your Facebook account is so private you’re the only one who can see it and you don’t Tweet no more.
Feel like a loser yet? You’re not. You are someone who has lost but you’re certainly no loser. Some of us lost one thing or two as a result of unemployment and some of us lost a whole lot. Jobs, then furniture, light, heat, phone, water, furniture, cars, homes, spouses and every combination of the above. And all of it hurts. Hurts bad.
Inhale, one long, deep breath…now exhale.
Whatever your loss, it’s time to start moving on. Every day won’t be the same. Trust me. Some days you’ll get up and others you’re still going to want to sleep in. Go with it. You’ll still be hurt, maybe angry, you may cry. The key thing is not to be down on yourself. You’re not a loser. And there’s over 15 million of us, you’re not alone.
Embrace what it is. By not going to the café you can drink your Jamaican Blue Mountain brew without saying false hellos to people you don’t like. Walk past the newsstand without looking. But should you have to glance, remember they’ve all been airbrushed anyway. Flip past the silly channels but if you can’t, only watch the commercials. Stick buttons on your flip flops and start a new trend or just wear your heels to the supermarket. Trim your own hair, if it goes wrong post it on Facebook and start a new style. Bars of soap keep the bathroom scented and let’s face it, burgers rock! Oh, and about that Facebook page, you don’t have 3,000 “Friends”. You really don’t. Keep the essentials and block or delete the rest. Hey, unless they’ve been helping you pay bills, buy food or stay chipper you during this time, you don’t need to care what they think about being deleted. Tweet happy thoughts and stay positive.
When all else fails, find a fellow member to talk to. If no one else gets it, I do.