The True Fear Of Unemployment

I live my life $686.00 at a time.

That is the amount of the unemployment check that I receive every two weeks.

And yes, I'm painfully aware that it's "better than nothing."  I'm on my third layoff and my third round of unemployment so I'm very tuned in to the realities of joblessness.

You can also add defensive, scared, frustrated, tired, borderline depressed and despondent to that list.

Waking up scared and deftly hiding that emotion is now second nature to me.

When you're unemployed your fear has to be well hidden as potential employers can smell it's stench from miles away.  Nothing says "hire me" like the eager to please desperation of someone who has to have a job.

So you tell interested friends and acquaintances about the strategies you've developed to turn your plight around.

You look fantastic, confident and polished when you're seen in public.   You can still work a room like nobodies' business but you have to hide within yourself to make it through most days.

Because if the fear takes over, you may not be able to function.

Part 2:  The True Fear of Unemployment:  Anger

Part 3:  The True Fear of Unemployment:  Depression

Part 4:  The True Fear of Unemployment:  Hope

Part 5:  The True Fear of Unemployment:  Epiphany

Part 6:  The True Fear of Unemployment:  Sink or Swim

And you must function.  You must pull yourself up despite the fact that you feel like your life is circling the drain.  Tomorrow---whenever it may come---could be the day that all of your hard work pays off.  It could be the day you connect with that one hiring manager and a job offer is finally extended.

Fear gets temporarily pushed aside.

Fear takes a back seat.

You barter and bargain.  Wheel and deal for what you can to keep the basics going and the rest has to fall to the wayside.

Everyone's unemployment experience is different, but for me it has broken down into four distinct stages:  Fear, anger,  hope and depression.

I just talked about fear.  Anger is up next.

Filed under: Unemployment

Tags: Musings, Personal, Unemployment


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  • This is brave and beautiful. A lot like you. Kraft och omtanke, my friend. MTM.

  • Excellent and heartfelt. Take care of yourself.

  • $686??? Hell... try $233. yes. $233.

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    In reply to theoriinc:

    That's just plain painful.

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    Strange enough, I did find an upside to being unemployed for about a year. Well, technically, I got kicked off of unemployment 2 (or was it 3?) times for freelancing. IDES will kick you off anytime you make a lump sum as a freelancer not realizing that that lump sum has to be spread out and will be swallowed up by bills and back to broke at any moment. Anyway, back to the upside, the one upside I found was I realized how much I blow money on fast food and shopping. When it really came down to spending on what I needed instead of what I wanted, it grounded me a lot and left a lasting impression by the time I found my next full time gig.

  • Yeah, ive become really adept at controlling my spending and managing my debt better.

  • You amaze me in so many ways. I am so proud to call you friend!

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    Not only is $686 better than nothing, it's better than many people make working 40 hour weeks, myself included. There is a positive side to see here; unemployment payments are giving you time to find a job you actually want instead of having to rush into the first dead end, soul crushing minimum wage job you can find just to survive.
    Enjoy this opportunity you have and take the time to go out and find a killer job.

  • In reply to Todd C:

    Actually Todd that's $686 every TWO weeks. Breaking down to $343 a week. And I'd love to perform a soul crushing minimum wage job but those employers won't hire me---and they've told me so.


    Read on as the series continues.

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    In reply to Woodlawn Wonder:

    Yes, $686 comes out to about $8.57 averaged over 80 hours before tax. Many people make a good chunk less than that, have taxes withheld from their checks, and have much less time available to search for a job that would pay better.

    You have more time on your hands to go out and keep looking for a job you actually WANT to do and more money to live off. Enjoy it. I'm lucky when my paycheck comes out over $500 every two weeks ($250 a week)and have far less free time to go and get my resume in people hands. I'm just happy I can actually live off what I do make now so I dont have to go out and try to find a second job which would nearly destroy my ability to keep searching for a job that could lead tro a career.

    It is definitely an opportunity. I believe if you look at it the right way you will make much better use of it.

  • I truly feel your pain. I was laid off 3 times in 4 years - never for cause. Vary hard to come back from that but it is possible and I did it. Now I coach on that. I have worked with people who have been through even more layoffs than I have! It's a crazy world. I try to bring compassion, humor, and other coping strategies into my coaching for professionals in career transition. Sending my best wishes to you. Reach out if I can help in any way.

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