Jobless in a recession is a case of dire straits. Endless applications, seemingly to no avail. Perhaps an interview here, an assessment there, followed through without so much as a phone call. The temptation to recoil into a bundle of self- deprecation is immense. While those around you remind you that you’re not alone, it feels like one of the loneliest places on the planet. It’s just you, your laptop and a cup of tea. Or maybe that’s just me.
Attending social outings is painstaking work;
“What do you do for a living?”
“I’m actually job hunting at the moment.”
Cue that look of horror that says you should just plan your own funeral now. Everyone knows someone who’s looking for work. And what’s more, that person is having no more luck than you. In one sense, this should be reassuring. On the other, it only serves to prove that there are no jobs left on the western front. You might, perhaps, feel the urge to prop outside the Dublin to Gatwick Ryanair gates with raised hands, carrying a sign that reads; Don’t Bother. The price of the flight alone should be as much a deterrent as the stench of unemployment from across the Irish Sea.
Nevertheless, it matters
But we do bother, because we’re programmed to care. And if nothing else, necessity to work translates to purpose. Nine–to- five plus salary equals success. Cameron may be promising more justice to UK employees by proposing stricter regulations for those taking advantage of the system; benefit frauds. Great, it’s welcomed. It’s about time people stopped having kids to earn their living. However, most are wired to earn through more socially acceptable means; careers. How do we survive while this purpose is a long time coming?
Much like being torn from your favourite hobby, unemployment leaves you feeling empty. And if, like me, you’re separated from nearest and dearest, it’s easy to be overcome with isolation. You never thought there’d be a day when you saw more of yourself in the mirror than other people in your surroundings. In fact, days might pass where you only speak to yourself or one other person. That may, however, not include the local grocer, whose job incidentally, you wouldn’t mind having.
Further to this, there is an abundance of catch-22s to being unemployed. If you’re a recent graduate, you lack the experience employers require. If you’re of a certain age, or expertise, you’re overqualified and employers can’t afford you. If you can secure a job, doing anything, you lose the valuable time it takes to produce high quality job applications. If you’re not working, funds are rapidly decreasing. And to top it all, if you’re claiming benefits, you may even be penalized for attending an interview when you should have been signing-on. Needless to say, the outlook doesn’t appear promising.
How low can you go?
Potentially the biggest question you’ll ask yourself is; What’s it all for? I live, I work, I die. This is quite possibly the lowest degree you can descend to, before needing to turn it around. With this attitude, you might as well wonder what the point of education is, or green spaces in the inner city? How do any of us know we’re even real, that this isn’t some divine dream where we are merely objects of imagination? And now that you’re slumping at the bottom, you can reach right around and kick your own butt. Working to live is inevitable, but in the same vein, we know that living to work is not altogether time well spent.
We derive self-satisfaction from earning money. When we aren’t satisfying this need, it becomes our obsession. Yet, once we fulfill this need, as any psychiatrist will tell you, another need becomes paramount. Be it love, rest or play, we’re rarely, if ever, without want. Those with children, nine out of ten times, will tell you they make it all worthwhile, regardless of the sleepless nights. I’m not advocating that those who are unemployed grab the nearest baby they can find; that could be akin to building an ice sculpture on a hot plate of jelly. Still, it is about finding an objective and personal rewards.
Getting back up there
Traipsing through numerous amounts of job adverts needn’t be the sole direction of every single day. It disengages you from others. In an instant you develop an entirely selfish world, while also craving cross-communication; a grip with reality. Pick up the phone to call a friend, a sister, a parent or whoever. Actually listen to their story, their happenings, and their interpretation of the current economic climate. What’s more, listen to everything that’s not to do with recession. Attending a career conference last month, we were told to forget about the economic downturn. A little self-delusion goes a long way. If you can relate to another’s enjoyment of an animal, or the repetitive social shortcomings that ensue everyday life, you manage to reach out to the world. In this way, you step into a place of surroundings, of faces, of realities, and ultimately, of hope. It is from here that you begin to find your purpose.