Dr. CK Bray
Matt’s Journey: Three Months Into Unemployment
Updated: Feb 4, 2022
In this second installment of Matt’s Journey, he takes us into his third month of unemployment and what begins to happen not only emotionally, but financially. I am so impressed by Matt’s writing and how well he expresses the difficulties that come with unemployment. Becoming depressed and feeling down and out happens in nearly 90% of the individuals I work with who have been laid off. It is important to stay positive and fight the depression demons by continually following Matt’s advice below.
When I first was laid off life didn’t seem so bad. I remember thinking that it would be nice to have some time off and just practicing what retirement would feel like. Who doesn’t enjoy a little time off? I also remember quickly running through my head a summary of my finances and thinking that I would be ok because I literally expected to find a job within a month. So the initial pain of being laid off wasn’t as great as it would be 3 months down the road. It is now 3 months down the road and the difference? Panic. The longer that unemployment is your evil mistress, the more time you have to reflect on why you aren’t getting a job while each day more of your dollars are sending “we miss you and hope you are well” cards from the utility, car and gas companies. Watching your bank account during unemployment is like watching from your stateroom window of the Titanic, it’s only a matter of time.
So here I sit, three months after the “call.” One thing about unemployment is that it can, if you let it, help you understand yourself in gigantic ways. Maybe you are someone that eats your feelings and if so, I didn’t mean to use gigantic to hurt you, sorry. When you are unemployed, it has the same effect of being “dumped” every day. Your self-esteem can suffer as opportunity after opportunity passes you by. BUT, you can also use it to your advantage. If you don’t sit around and eat ice cream and watch Sleepless in Seattle like most do when dumped, you can analyze your situation and possibly make lemonade out of lemons. Ok, you are right, I just became one of those people that points out that there is always a silver lining. I hate those people. I understand that it is human nature to say that “maybe this is for the best, you will probably end up with something that is WAY better.” Then they get in their BMW and drive away. Yeah, thanks, that really made me feel better. So before you get angry at me for being one of those people, hear me out.
My past and background give me various paths that I am able to explore while unemployed. The downside is that my various education mixed with different experiences makes me, well, let’s just say unique. That is making it hard to land a job. However, it has also become a beneficial and painful opportunity for me to evaluate who I am and what I want to do with my life and career. Unemployment has one good quality. It can act as that springboard that you have always been waiting for in order to move you towards something that you love or that you feel like you are meant to do. I am sitting in that exact situation right now and as enlightening as it can be, it is also extremely daunting… and full of panic. I am deciding whether to continue to attempt to go down the path in which I have experience, to return to a path that I was educated to do or to begin something new that I know that I will enjoy. The problem? The panic. During unemployment, panic becomes your personal hunchback. It is there constantly and it only gets bigger by the day. As days go by, panic becomes accompanied by the unemployment demons. By about three months in, panic has tentacles named discouragement, settling, and idiocy. What am I talking about? Well, here I am three months in, and not only am I panicked, but I am starting to consider making poor choices just to relieve the panic. As I get discouraged, I think about settling for a job that I would have been disappointed within high school and I start to make poor decisions such as: maybe I should buy a camp trailer to live in so that I don’t have to pay as much rent.
I hope that you just laughed out loud. I did. Kind of. Because at the end of the day when you are unemployed, this is what you have to fight every day. What path do I take? What jobs am I suited for? Do I shoot for the moon? All the while that you are trying to keep up this optimism and finding the silver lining, you have all of those tentacles of panic to deal with as well. A shrinking bank account like a Rick Moranis movie, bad decisions on the same level as a cheap horror movie where for some reason they always decide to stay in the house and settling as if you were Laura Ingalls.
The good and bad news? It is difficult for someone to help you. This makes unemployment a bipolar situation. It can be either really good as you search for yourself, what you truly want, and dig deep for the ambition to keep plowing forward, or it can be really terrible if you let yourself sink, settle, and fade off into the discouragement that is better known as your couch. I write this last paragraph with no judgment in my keystrokes. Some days I am the former, and some days I am the latter. If you are in the same situation, let’s band together and hope that great things are around the corner.
Don't miss the other parts of Matt's Journey: