My name is Kevin, and I’m unemployed. It’s been two months now, and it doesn’t get any easier. In some ways I feel busier than I was before, though there’s no real sense of accomplishment. Not working is like being adrift, unsure of which way to go–as if you had any control in the first place–and feeling unable to commit to anything.
So many people are in my situation that my church actually started an unemployment group. (“Career transition group” is how they described it, though we’re working on coming up with a less PC and more affirming name. I like being the unemployed group.) In all my interactions with the church, this is the first time I’ve seen such an outreach to the unemployed. It means a lot when the church is able to recognize basic needs and respond.
More than anything, it’s a support group to convince yourself that you’re not a loser. Being unemployed requires that kind of affirmation. It’s difficult to get up day after day when you have nothing to do but craft more witty, self-promoting letters and scour web sites for jobs that you can apply for, along with all the other unemployed losers. Even though I’ve never been tempted to sleep until noon or spend the day watching TV, I often feel the same sense of waste.
And although unemployment benefits are great–they keep me in my house and let me keep my car and I still get to eat–they basically discourage me from finding part time work. I’m paid a set amount per week, assuming I’m actively looking for work and am available for work. However, if I do any work during the week, say freelance jobs or even flipping burgers, I have to deduct that amount from my unemployment benefits. So there’s really no gain to taking on a part time job unless I’m getting paid more than my unemployment benefits, which would be difficult if I’m flipping burgers.
This is the face of unemployment. It’s not daytime TV and home improvement projects. It’s peanut butter and jelly, inadequacy, and a constant search for motivation.