I have been jobless for over six months now. It has not done much (read as: it has not done anything at all) for my self-esteem, my personal relationships, or my confidence. I wrote more about what it’s been like to be unemployed earlier this week. However it’s only getting worse. As if it actually could.
I am now getting into desperation mode–applying for every job I think I’m remotely qualified for, setting up a Patreon to make a little extra money, and still seeing my therapist twice a week and complaining to him about how awful and terrible everything is. (Therapy, when you have mediocre insurance, is not cheap. It’s running me about $140 a week now—but it’s an absolutely mandatory expense.)
When I left my job in July, I never thought it would be like this. Not in a million, billion, trillion years.
I never thought it would be nearly this long.
I never thought I would struggle this much.
I thought it would be a month or two, tops, before I got a new job. I didn’t know—actually, I had no idea at all—it would be six going on seven. I didn’t know it came with this much anxiety, enough to where I struggle getting out of bed. I didn’t know it came with all of this terribleness; the ceaseless, relentless feelings of inadequacy; I’m only struggling to stay afloat.
I never thought that it would be this difficult to get a new job. I thought I looked almost perfect on paper and was a perfect candidate in real life that I was sure that this would end quickly. I never thought that this would be drawn out so long. I never thought that this would be how it turned out.
I never thought I would become this desperate and never dreamed we would have to go to the financial advisor asking for money because we couldn’t pay the bills alone any more.
I’m applying everywhere. Every single place I can think of that would possibly want to hire me, every position I think I’m even remotely qualified for. I’ve come so close to and almost resorted to applying for paid internships just to bring a little bit of money in. I haven’t quite gotten that far. (I need health insurance and some retirement benefits.)
I’m afraid that it’s me. That I’m the problem.
I’m afraid that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, that I won’t be good enough. I won’t be enough for these people. That I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not qualified enough. I don’t do (read as: I’m not any good at) graphic design and that counts me out for about half of the social media positions in the DC area. I’ve been trying to get better at design—but it’s slow going. It’s frustrating when my mind isn’t built for it. It’s built for words, not pictures or shapes.
I’ve been updating resumes for people since I’ve quit my job. It’s not nearly the most rewarding work, but it puts a little money back in my pocket. But not nearly enough.
I want to be writing articles and interviews (saying this is completely out of character for me; I hate doing interviews, they give me massive bouts of anxiety) and blog posts and social media content and all the things I know I’m good at. I want to be doing all of those things just to be getting better. I want to be working really hard and I want to be working toward something, for someone, doing something meaningful instead of musing and whining in front of my own computer, crying into yet another Word document or Scrivener page.
Desperation isn’t a cute look. It’s not good. It isn’t funny or cute or adorable or endearing.
I’m doing constant self promotion to try and drum up more business, trying to get people to subscribe to this newsletter (please, for the love of all that’s holy, share with your friends!) or join my Patreon or hire me somewhere, anywhere at all.
I’m trying really hard to no longer be unemployed but there’s only so much I can actually do. (This is something my therapist is reminding me of constantly.) I’m at the whim and mercy of nearly every hiring manager in the DC area at this point.
I’m taking every spare minute I have to apply for jobs. It’s been draining. It’s a full time job in and of itself. Filling out all of the paperwork, getting gussied up, traveling for interviews all over the District, applying for more jobs. It’s been completely physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting.
I’ve had interviews go well—extremely well—and then not get the job. I’ve been interviewed multiple times and still not get the job. I’ve had places ghost me and I’ve had places deny me multiple times through multiple emails.
I’ve been told that I’m well spoken, I’ve been told that interviewers have liked what I’ve had to say, I’ve been reminded of my propensity for long sentences (that I’m now really self-conscious about). I’ve been interviewed by the same person twice, at two different places. I’ve done it all—I have the war stories and scars to prove it—and it still hasn’t been enough.
Being a friendly neighborhood writer isn’t easy. It’s not easy when nobody wants just a writer. They want a writer, a designer, a web developer. They want it all wrapped up into one neat little package—a Swiss Army knife of a person, when I’ve only worked on honing one part of that craft. I have background in writing and that’s the only thing I want to be doing. I don’t want to be designing. I’m no good at it. I can do web content and website updates, but that’s not the most fun—there’s a lot of data analysis that goes along with it. I want to be writing.
I’ve lowered my salary requirements; all I want is for my household to be two income again. It’s been hard on both my wife and I for me to be out of work, perpetually trying to figure out what to do with me during the day like some kind of lost, abandoned puppy. It’s sad.
I sit here constantly wishing I went to school for journalism. That could’ve made this a hell of a lot easier. News organizations only ever want actual writers, people who can come up with whip-quick, snap-smart, clickable copy. Or editing skills that can spot a comma splice a mile away. That’s all I really want to be doing. Writing and editing. Writing. And. Editing.
But journalism won’t let you in without journalism experience—something else I just don’t have. Something else I wish I had—every minute of every single day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve applied for jobs at the Washington Post, just to get turned away without an interview. I’m afraid to pitch pieces there because I’m worried they’ll recognize me and just think I’m a desperate, terrible writer. (I also am afraid to pitch pieces anywhere because it’s so nervewracking.)
All I’m left with after everything is said and done is a giant pile of regret. How I shouldn’t have left my job, how I should’ve gone to journalism school, how I should’ve done this or that or something else instead of ending up right where I am now.
Desperate, longing for attention and for work. I’m nearly wearing one of those barrels and sandwich boards like in cartoons, begging on corners for just a bit of employment. Being desperate isn’t cute and God only knows when my begging, pleading, and crying days will be over.