I have been unemployed for two weeks as of this afternoon. The hard part is that I can’t tell if I’m struggling or enjoying it. I guess I wouldn’t be thinking about it so much if I was enjoying it.
I’ve pretty much always been on contracts. The end of a job is not the specific trauma to me that it would be to someone who has always worked in one place. Having said that, it’s commonly acknowledged that job loss (presumably of any kind) is one of the most traumatic life events. I wonder if it really is or not. Or if it depends if you’re used to ‘losing’ your job.
I should be using this time to write. To do as much as I can. But you know what, I’m struggling to do most things. I was with the place I just left for two years, in two different positions. But those entire two years I was a casual employee. I didn’t have the money to take holidays. I didn’t have the money to take a week off to just do nothing. So for two years, I effectively worked without a break. I took occasional days off when I needed them. It seems that unemployment has become my holiday. Only it’s not much of a holiday. I can’t go anywhere. I can’t spend money. I wonder how much I should fill my car’s fuel tank up. I don’t have any money coming in to my account in the foreseeable future. I’m not 100% broke (yet), but I can’t let myself spend money. I have annual theme park passes (my birthday present last year), so I could be heading down the coast for a ‘free’ day out. But I can’t let myself spend money on fuel, tolls or public transport.
I fight jealousy sometimes when it comes to blogging. I am jealous of people who look like they “have it all” because they get to stay home with their kids & blog while their husband works. They have the gift of time without worrying about getting money into the house. Yes, I know that’s a stereotype. Yes, I know that every situation has positives and negatives. But jealousy when you’re in a state of flux doesn’t listen to logic. So at times, I get jealous in my head of others. I don’t hold it against them. It’s just something that annoys me when I feel I don’t have control of my life.
I really hate (yeah, yeah, hate isn’t a word you’re “supposed” to use, blah blah) the work for yourself guru types that actually advocate you dropping everything and putting every bit of time into your business. I think those people who do that smell of desperation. I think that’s a foul stench. Sustainable is smart. And that goes for more than working for yourself.
They will tell you that you’re not doing it because of a fear of failure. Yes, to a degree that is correct. If I “fail” right now, you know what that means? It means I have nowhere to live. It means I can’t afford to pay for my dog’s medications and will have to have her put down so she doesn’t suffer. Go ahead, tell me to risk a dependent creature’s life. I won’t do it.
So I am looking for work. I find it hard to look for work. Mostly because jobs are usually boring to me. Everywhere thinks they’re unique, yet more often than not, it’s the same old crap as the last place. I have a more specific piece drafted on my opinion of interviews, but that’s for another time and place.
I hate it that people are interested in me. I have been to interviews before merely because someone is intrigued by my varied resume and wants to meet me. They had no intention of seriously interviewing me or considering me for the job. One particular instance of this happened about two or three years ago and it pissed me off so much that I wanted to send them an invoice afterwards for wasting my time.
Why am I looking for work? Why can’t I become some kind of stay at home working masterpiece?
Well, that has always been my goal. I struggle with choosing what I want to do vs what others want me for. I don’t know how to market. I don’t really have any interest in marketing myself. I want intelligent people who can assess if they want my skills to just come across me and decide they want me. Yes, that’s probably naive. But that’s the point at which my brain gets bored. An area of struggle that I know isn’t unique to me is how to price things. I cover this a bit on my blog coaching page about why I chose the rate I did. I sit here and debate what to do with my other business, Nutshell Training and Consulting. I’m considering just throwing in the towel completely. But I’m also considering that I haven’t really covered my true intentions in the current offerings and maybe it just needs a rework. I’ve already brainstormed that rework in the past few days.
Basically, I am paralysed by choice. I am fortunate. I have had an upbringing in a first world country, with education in a mix of private & public schools. I went to a “top” Australian university. I have worked in socially important job and corporate jobs. I have experience in a lot of things. I have yet to make any of them work for me and what has always been my ultimate goal of working for myself. I am fortunate that I’ve always known that I want to work for myself. I didn’t have to go through years of corporate hell to find out that about myself. I didn’t have to have a breakdown or suffer to know that. But I still don’t work for myself. I don’t doubt that I will be successful, in the long term at least. I have no problem believing in myself. It’s the uncertainty of making it to a spot where I’m meeting more of my desires in life that throws me. I’m not patient. I want to know how it will happen. And I want to know now.
This leaves me with a short to medium term need to have a job. Something to pay my rent. I am looking. In the past two months I’ve applied for over 200 jobs on Seek alone. I don’t pay much attention to what job I apply for. I apply, then use the phone interview/interview screening processes to work out if I like the job. The same way they look at me to see if they would like me.
I have a husband and a dog that require me to feed, medicate and house them. There. I’ve touched on that subject that everyone has an opinion on. I have a husband. Who doesn’t work. Gasp.
When I tell people that, I get looks like I’ve told them I’m being beaten up at home. People, and it seems men especially, aren’t “allowed” to have bad health in their twenties.
It’s more complicated than one thing. It’s the string of things and the toll they take on you. The medical system takes no support or responsibility. We had to fight to get some new tests done by our GP. “Change GPs” I hear you say. Sure. Can you find one who will bulk bill everything & doesn’t look at you like a drug addict? Oh, and who has open books? It’s hard work to find a decent medical team. It’s stressful. It’s too hard to go through tests again and again. It damages you. My husband doesn’t fit any one category of a disability that would allow him to get a government payment. If people like Fridayology, who have a distinct & recognisable disability to most eyes, can’t even get a disability payment, then believe me, there is no way we can get one. So we’re not stressing ourselves by trying. Sure, he could apply for the dole. And when he was well and between jobs once, he did that. And he was treated subhuman. He was outright ridiculed by a “job services provider”. Our complaints fell on deaf ears.
Like anyone with a chronic disease, the key to managing it is to do what you can when you can. To the uninitiated, to the outsiders, this is viewed as lazy. They don’t see the pain. They don’t see the exhaustion that can’t be cured by an extra hour of sleep. They see him on a good day and think he’s “better”.
Him not working helps his health now. He hates it too, you know. He’s not stupid, yet he’s been basically trapped at home for the past few years, unable to do anything. How do think that feels? We manage our mental health ourselves. We don’t have problems. We fix things our way. Because our way works. In a practical sense, managing our own mental health means small changes. It’s like how I left my last job most days at 4pm, much earlier than anyone else. This means that I get to have dinner with my husband. This means he hasn’t had to eat every meal sitting alone in the house for the past three or four years.
I don’t want to hear your opinion on me having a husband who doesn’t work. I’ve heard some. They’re usually ignorant and annoying and they make me hate you a bit. I’ve only included the above because it is a truth in my life. And it’s a truth that’s hard to see for many. A truth that I think many others have, and some of those hide because it’s hard thing for anyone else to understand. I hope others do explain their situation – it’s not one to hide from shame. But it is hard for others to understand, and you have to be willing to lose family or friends who don’t, can’t, or won’t understand your life. Sometimes it’s easier to bury the truth than introduce more stress into your life.
Like anyone with chronic disease, if he could find a job that allowed him to work when he is capable, and preferably from home, he would take it in a heartbeat. These jobs are rare.
So, this leaves me with the need to find a job. Where do I look? Pretty much anywhere. I go through job boards twice a day. I apply for anything, even if I’m over qualified. Or under qualified. Or inexperienced. Or too experienced. It’s just to pay my bills. When it comes to day jobs, I work to live, not live to work.
Ideally, I’d love to work two to three days a week in a regular job and have the rest of the week to blog, write, work for myself, be outside, and generally enjoy my life. That is a balance that would suit me a lot right now. Sadly there are few jobs like that.
Then I question if I would use the other days of the week effectively. I feel really inefficient right now:
- I’ve been writing a book for the past two weeks and I’m only at a third of my word goal. And it’s not a long book. This post is now nearly as long as the book.
- I’ve had a gym membership I haven’t used in a year. I told myself it was hard to go while I was working such an intense corporate job. I’ve had two weeks where I could have gone. I’ve never been a hard core gym person. I just like putting a movie or tv show on my iPad and walking, jogging or cycling in relative comfort. But I haven’t done it. It’s a 2km drive from me, in a place I go often. I have no reason not to go. But I haven’t.
- My yard needs a lot of tree trimming done. I haven’t even bothered to pretend I’ve thought about doing it.
- I wish I was using this time to start up some super business that just needs time to get going. I have time right now. It’s about one thing I do have.
- I enrolled back into the coursework Masters degree I stopped when Ben initially got sick. This is the end of week three and I haven’t done anything besides post a hello in the forums. I’m already thinking about dropping out. But I also miss study. I’m resentful towards it because I wanted to do a research Masters or PhD this year but couldn’t work out how to make it work for me (I am not able to get a scholarship & neither degree is covered by any sort of Centrelink payment). I feel like I’m being degraded by having to take a first year writing class when I’m a postgraduate student. Especially when my undergraduate degree required essays for basically every subject.
- I am angry I haven’t been relaxing. What have I been doing if I’m not relaxing? Ignoring the possibilities or what I could be doing? I worked hard yesterday to relax, and the effort of it was tiring. Then I felt stupid that I’ve had two weeks to relax and I’ve managed to for an entire two hours.
I worry that all of this means I can’t manage my time if I did work for myself.
I wonder about blogging. I have come to accept that I am a writer in my core. I don’t know what kind. Do I need a kind? I’ve been told I’m not niche enough. But this blog is me. It represents a lot of who I am. The many things I’m interested in. The many things I think about.
I think I think too much. I wish I could have a spiritual epiphany that would make my path and goals clear. Can I buy one?