Friday, July 17, 2015

What I learned from 1 year of unemployment




"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way."

It was the year 2014. I had been divorced for a couple of years and I decided to leave my job for what I thought was a better opportunity. It was not and I ended up basically unemployed for a year. It was the lowest of the low for me. Not only was I a divorcee, but I wasn't even able to get a job. I moved in with my mother who luckily did not charge me rent, but realistically was not the person with whom I had the best relationship when we had to live under the same roof. I had a son who although lives with his father, I of course still had a financial responsibility for. I was also broke, in debt, and had no savings. I signed up with a temp. agency who luckily was able to assign me to short term gigs. I worked in some offices for a couple of hours and in some offices for a couple of days and even one for several months. Answering phones, making copies, keeping the seat warm for the person whose job I was filling for. Looking back I honestly I don’t know how I took care of myself those first few months.

Sometimes it is hard to see the lessons when you are in the mist of the storm. So hard to see clearly when your eyes are blinded by the tears of anger, frustration and hopeless. But like one of my favorite songs says, “I can see clearly not that the rain is gone.” Now that that storm is behind me I am able to see what the period in my life had taught me and maybe it in turn can help you during your gloomy time.

1. You really find out what you want out of life


You are already without a job so why not spend this time really trying to figure what you want to do with your life or at least what type of job that you want next? I applied to over 100 of jobs during my year and 90% of them were jobs where I had not passion or interest in. I felt like that really hindered my job hunt because employers are looking are your resume thinking and knowing that you are just looking for a “job”. And if you do happen to get an interview and they ask you that question, “Why do want to work here?” answering “Because you are hiring and I have bills” is not the best answer. It wasn’t until I got super clear about what type of the job that I wanted next that I got an interview a job offer for the exact job that I wanted. What I wanted in my ideal position:

§  Non-profit for an animal or environmental protection organization
§  Casual dress code
§  Supervisors who do not micro manage
§  Intelligent and fun co-workers
§  I wanted to work in downtown so that no matter were in the city I moved it would be easy for me to get to
§  I wanted to get paid more than I ever have
§  I wanted to utilize my executive assistant skills, but I wanted to assistant the executive team of the organization
§  A role were I had some say in how my responsibilities were performed.

I kid you not my current role has all (plus more) of these requirements. Get real clear on what you want in your next job, apartment, school, relationship. If you don’t know what you want how do you expect to get it? You this time to rebuild yourself. 

2. You really find out what you need to live

When you have an extreme cut in pay for a long time if you are smart you will reduce all your extra expenses. For one year I lived without internet. I utilized the internet at the offices were I worked, the bookstore, the library and the local coffee houses. The library literally became my best friend. Free books and movies!! Job hunting without the internet was not always fun or convenient, but when you are not sure when a steady flow of income is coming in, if you legally can get it for free somewhere then you shouldn’t be paying for it.

Another side benefit is that once you get back on your feet, you will really appreciate everything that you have more. After living with family for over two years, having my own apartment is freaking AWESOME!!!! I recently moved and all that I have in my own place is a bed and two chairs, but every time I walk into my apartment I smile because I know the work that I did to get it. Every time I write my rent check I don’t complain at the amount because I remember where I was a year ago.

3. You really find out how strong you are

Taking care of my child and myself for one year without a steady stream of income was a miracle, but like the saying goes “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and stronger I am. I know that everything that I went through: the 100’s of applications, the interviews, the rejections, the exhaustion, the anger, the despair, the night of just walking in the door breaking down crying because I felt like I couldn’t deal with life, and the days where all I could do was just put one foot in front of another all showed me how strong a person I am. I have clawed myself out from the (hopefully) lowest part of my life and I am still standing. When I think to myself how far I have come from this time last year, I just think to myself, “Good fucking job Leolin!!!!Now you are ready for the next challenge in your life.”

Every challenge in life brings you lessons that although you wish you didn’t have to go through, you are glad that you did because it made you stronger, wisher, and tougher. Single or as a parent, feeling as though you are unable to provide for yourself and for your family is a very hard thing to deal it. It bangs up your self-esteem. For me it made me dig down into the soul of who I am and fight daily to just not give up. To put one foot in front of the other and hold on. Because sometimes holding on is all that you can do. So just hold on…….

Me at one of my temp jobs. You can't see it but there is a bruise on my forehead from banging my head against the desk out of boredom. 


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