(Cross posted at event-hopping womanist site, http://sistrenista.com/?p=243)
It’s no secret that this current generation of college graduates has a decades’ long, uphill battle ahead of us in terms of achieving economic security. We’re saddled with thousands, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. And with the lack of available jobs, we take any/everything that can pay the bills. All of this stress of course takes an emotional toll. For the 7 months I was recently unemployed, I was fighting feelings of sadness, failure and worthlessness. No amount of consideration of the economic recession could really convince me that I hadn’t done something wrong…wrong major, wrong passion, wrong city. As a means of support, everyone says ‘stay positive’ but here are some of the more concrete ways I tried (unsuccessfully at times) to deal with emotional crisis caused by prolonged unemployment.
- Develop a flexible/strict schedule. Get involved with a group, volunteer, tutor, take a random part-time job. Having a set place to be twice a week helps keep you regimented, forces you to interact with people and is a reminder that the world is more than craigslist ads, idealist searches or networking events. On the other hand, knowing that you can switch your schedule at the VA clinic if you get a last minute interview is very crucial because, for the time being anyway, your world does in fact revolve around craigslist ads, idealist searches and networking events.
- Adhere to pre-approved wallowing time. I spent a week living on my couch watching Seinfeld and eating only when it was absolutely necessary. And I recommend it (not necessarily Seinfeld…choose your own drug of choice). I had been intensely job-searching for a couple of months at that point and decided I’d had enough. I gave myself one glorious week to wallow in self pity and laugh at ridiculous re-runs. The week came and went and I eventually had to get off the couch. And so will you.
- Spice up the job search with ‘coffee-shopping’ or ‘library- hopping’. The drudgery of monotonous job searching can be soul crushing. If you have to do it, why not at least do it in interesting settings? I became an expert on my neighborhood and got to experience new parts of Brooklyn by choosing new locations each week/month in which to set up my mobile office: old and new coffee shops, laundromats, libraries, public parks…wherever there was a free Wi-Fi signal, I was there.
- Go to the random events… Just Go! I’m fortunate enough to live in a city with a lot of (free) events happening all of the time. The last thing I wanted to do initially was take time away from the job search and watch a film or attend a discussion. My thought was ‘was it a film about jobs? would we be discussing jobs??’ Eventually, I dragged myself to a one-day film festival and was reminded that I was still a social being with interests outside of my (lack of) income. If it will be fun (remember fun?!) and distracting for a few hours, just go do it.
- Laugh at the absurdity with your friends. Friends are amazing and laughter is the best medicine so utilize both as much as possible. I had a couple of friends who were unemployed around the same time as I was and we had quite a few ‘laugh until your abs hurt’ sessions talking about the most foolish parts of the application/interview process. Remember that time you called the employer back 5 minutes after she called you and the number was disconnected? Or what about that time you applied for a very specific position and the organization interviewed you for another unidentified, random position? These things are absurd and should be laughed at accordingly.