I've been unemployed since early January. I'm receiving Unemployment benefits and have recently applied for Food Stamps. I practice yoga every day. It all doesn't sound so bad, but life is becoming pretty isolating. I'm a very social person. I'm lucky I have roommates, or else I probably wouldn't have human contact at all. You see, I have friends, but not many here in Chicago. Also, the people I know here have jobs, so it is usually me and my thoughts from 9-5. I'm craving friendships and relationships like never before. I need to be "outside" of myself.
Since getting a job is so damn hard these days, I've started to apply for volunteer opportunities. Even for these, it seems like I've been waiting forever to hear back anything. It's difficult to not feel like a huge failure at life right now. This whole experience has given me so much more compassion for people who have little to no income. I've never had a lot of money, but I've been able to be "comfortable" most times.
I'm lucky, really. The job I had was literally sucking out my soul. On the morning I was let go, I walked up the stairs saying the protection mantra that my yoga therapist had taught me. I believe it worked--it got me out of that place. I'm lucky that I have parents who, though they don't make much money (my dad works for the state of Wisconsin and my mom is in private practice doing Spiritual Guidance), they are able to support me to some degree. My parents help me with my rent and monthly insurance cost (It's great having insurance--don't get me wrong--but I pretty much have to swallow my pride, since I have to pay the company that let me go for it).
Not having insurance would be awful--and I was faced with the very real possibility of this. I have a prescription for Zoloft, which I take daily, and because I can't take the generic, I pay $35 a month. It would cost me hundreds of dollars without insurance. It makes me think about how fucked up it is that there are tons of people out there, without insurance, who need medications that they simply can't afford. This could be a whole blog post on its own.
So, unemployment. It's a scary thing. It makes you realize how much you define yourself by your work. We live in a culture of overworking with little (if any) emphasis on self-care. I don't want to be someone who lives for their work/career. Certainly, I want to be able to have a comfortable income, but I don't want a job to define me. There is so much more to life. Being unemployed has given me such great compassion for those who are poor, and working below minimum wage. The stereotype that those who receive Unemployment benefits are lazy is a ridiculous one propagated by the conservative right. Looking for a job is a job--you just don't get paid for it. I spend hours upon hours searching and applying for work. What more can I do? It may look like I'm doing nothing, if you catch me sitting in my bedroom on my computer, but I'm looking for jobs. I can't always go to a coffee shop and do this, since it costs money to sit at a coffee shop with my laptop. I have to be extremely careful about what I spend, since Unemployment doesn't give me an obscene amount of money.
So, if it seems like I'm drowning from all of this, I probably am a bit. However, I know I'm better off now than at my previous job.