My parents grew up during the time when a decent education meant a good job. They made me believe that if you got a degree, you got a job and you kept that job forever and ever, Amen.
I have four degrees. I do not have a job. What the frack, Grandma?
For four months I have been unemployed, and I am realizing unemployment is like a disease. Depending on the personality of the person who talks to you about unemployment, the issue of being jobless is whispered about like a terminal disease. Oh, you lost your job? The last three words are spoken in the same whispers you hear in the waiting room of critical care. Some people even treat me like unemployment is contagious. I swear, I have talked to some people who wrinkle their noses at the miasmic stench of unemployment. This reaction makes uncomfortable, so I began to quarantine myself, just to get away from "the question" I'd get, (in the most ingratiating southern tones) "you haven't found anything YET (two octaves up on yet)? Bless our heart."
"Hell no, I haven't found anything yet!" The struggle is real. It's hard out here for a Professor. That's what I do, well, that's what I used to do, profess. I was an Assistant Professor of English at a small liberal arts college that turned for-profit, treated the faculty like crap while admnistrators made six figures and ran the whole thing into the ground. No, I'm not bitter.
Here's the thing. The longer I'm unemployed the more I hear the same phrases with slight variations. It's like everyone googled, "What to say to the recently unemployed," and used the search results on me. Every. Day.
"You'll find something soon." Not soon enough.
"They didn't deserve your expertise." What about me? I deserve a job.
"Why don't you start your own buiness?" With what money?
"You're not working yet?" Blank stare.
Early in my job search, a friend of mine asked me why I didn't just go work for the University of Phoenix. My response, "I want to be a teacher, not a grader." I can be such a pompous ass sometimes. A few days ago, I applied to be a glorified grader at the University of Phoenix. Don't judge me. I have student loans to pay back.
The thing is, in the midst of all of the unemployment mayhem, I did learn something other than how to stretch a dollar until it hollers.
1. Looking for a job is a full time job.
2. Monster dot com is bull sh*t.
3. You'll never find out what a "good fit" really is.
4. Okay, really, "good fit" means, I don't want you because I'm hiring the boss's daughter.
5. Sometimes you will get an offer, only to get the offer rescinded, because the position's funds have been pulled.
6. No matter how hard you try not to, you will get your hopes up.
7. Sometimes people won't show up to interview you. They won't call. They won't text. It's like a really really bad date, that you really wanted to work out for you.
8. You will have several "rounds" of interviews for one job you won't get.
9. Sometimes the "rounds" will include you performing free labor for the company and THEN not getting the job.
10. You may not be able to afford to search for the job you want rather than search for the job you can get.
11. If you squint at your vitae, you can make some of your "professional development" opportunities stand in for something you've never done before in your life.
12. You will become a great fiction writer via cover letters.
13. It takes 2 months to get approved for unemployment and two more weeks for your first check to post.
14. You have not hit the jackpot with your unemployment check.
15. People who really can't hire you will stalk your profile on Linkedin.
16. You will seriously consider paying someone to "makeover" your vitae/resume, even though you don't have any money.
I hate to sound all gloom and doom, because really I'm okay. Somehow, my husband and I have purchased a home. My children have managed to make a game out of packing and unpacking boxes, even though school started right in the midst of us closing. The family eats together, because I cook at home. We don't eat out much anymore.
My family has rediscovered each other and we like each other.
I write more. I needed to do that. I have time to text, or call, or write my friends a letter when I think about them. The need to reach out to them doesn't slip my mind because I have other stuff to do. I'm rested and that's a really big deal, after all, a girl has to look best at the interview.
So if you happen to contract unemployment, I urge you to look out for the unexpected and expect it to happen. In the meantime, enjoy the time you have been gifted, because soon, you'll have to get up off your but and work it girl!
DiAnne L. Malone
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