Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The unemployment war

Did you know we were in battle? That those who are unemployed have a harder time than those who are employed to even find a job because employers won’t even consider you? How is this going to repair the state of the economy if companies refuse to even consider people whom aren’t currently employed? I heard months ago that McDonalds, the fast food chain, was only considering people with a current job. Joking I said, “I guess that means I can’t even get a job at McDonalds,” but the jokes on me, since I really can’t.
It seems it is better to be underemployed than unemployed. I’m sure that most unemployed people would agree, if they could even get underemployed. I received a phone call in reference to a job I applied for, and the woman on the phone said she actually had another job in mind for me that they had available. She said I applied for a job under my education level. Wow, someone actually read my resume. Then came the dreaded salary question.
Sure it is appreciated that I was actually told the salary this time, but when I put my normal positive spin on the low number, she basically told me not to hold my breath on being promoted or getting out of that range while in that position. She then mentioned my charity work. Yes, I didn’t get paid for that, but this is not charity, this is a profit based operation, I don’t feel like working “for free” for them. The original thought was to get an entry level position where moving up was a possibility, that image seems to be shattering as well. Is growth not a foreseeable future with these companies? What happened to the days where you started out in the mailroom and years later you are the Vice President of Operations?
We are in battle people. It is happening right now.  In this battle those who have a job you are battling to keep them. For those who are underemployed to be pushed up into the ranks of the fully employed. For those whom are unemployed to finally join the masses of the employed. Every day you must be prepared to wage battle, because one misstep is all it takes in these hard times. But do not settle, aim high, because we might be wary but we are stronger than we think.  

Monday, September 27, 2010

Help wanted

So as the time passes and I apply for job after job, there is a question that has arisen within me. Do I really want to work? Well, let’s be frank, does anyone really want to work?! The reason I went back to college was because I did not want to work anymore. Is this confusing? Of course it is!

I went back to college so that I could get a career. Climb the corporate ladder, as they say in the business world! But now that I am applying for jobs, the realization has occurred to me that I don’t want a job, I want a career. Research shows that people who actually know what job, what title, even what company they want to work for, have a much higher success rate. People such as myself, who blindly apply to any job that my resume might look appealing to the employer, aren’t anywhere near as successful. I stopped looking for who is appealing to me.
When we date, we look for the perfect match. We don’t just settle for anyone. Well sure, maybe we go to dinner or get a drink with them, but you don’t enter into a relationship with someone just because they were the only one who asked you out. But when the right guy does come along, you have to go for it! Why can’t I be pickier with where I apply? Why can’t I say things on my cover letter like, “we are a perfect match, and I don’t want to see other companies, let’s be exclusive!” But alas, it comes off too clingy, and no one likes that on a first date.
The job market is like being at a school where there are 7 girls for every guy. The guys are lucky, but the girls have to work extra hard, and for what?! All the guys are not that hot, and they don’t all have great perks and benefits, but the thought of being without a guy at the dance is all too much for some girls, so they take the first thing they can get. If there is anything in all the years I spent and wasted dating the wrong guys (you know who you are) it’s that I’m better than that. Yes, I know I should take any job that is offered to me, but honestly I have not been asked to the dance if you know what I mean. In the movies the girl who holds out always gets the best guy…in this metaphor it’s a job though, I already have the great guy! 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The lesson of values

It is really easy to feel guilty about enjoying yourself when you feel like you didn’t do anything to deserve it. For example, you don’t feel like you deserve new clothes, when you don’t have the money to pay for them. You don’t feel like you should go out to eat a nice dinner, because now it feels like it’s a waste. All of a sudden things that you always did for enjoyment, no, the things you did as a reward, now become wasteful, as if you don’t deserve them.
As children our parents teach us the value of a dollar. Society reinforces the correct/lawful ways to earn that dollar. That is the way to make your family proud. But that is also how you get to reward yourself for all of your hard work. The harder you work, that larger the ultimate pay out. That is how we are raised at least, but when things don’t turn out the way you have always been told they would usually the hardest critic is yourself.
It is amazing how your priorities change, and how you have to force yourself to enjoy these now indulgent acts, which were once just part of your life. No one has bought me my clothing since I was old enough to work. And the satisfaction I used to get from buying a new outfit has now been taken to a level of guilt. Something I had once earned, is now something that I have to take. I hope this is something that I never get used to.
At the beginning of the summer I had served on Federal jury duty. It actually paid me quite well, and since I had done it for 2 weeks, I had enough money to buy myself some clothes for the summer. It was the best day. I bought all of the things I had been needing but didn’t want to ask for. It was such a huge relief, and it reminded me of how I used to feel. Like I deserved it, because I worked for it. It’s a shame that when you are unemployed, or even under-employed, that you are made to feel like a burden from society. The same things our parents taught us as values come to haunt us. The idea that the value of hard work pays off and will better you but realizing that might not be the case, or the thought that earning your keep all of sudden is not possible. Now those values haunt me because no matter how high my grades, or how hard I ever worked, that has not helped to secure me a paycheck so I can have the joy of buying myself a reward and truly enjoying the fruits of my labor.   
But, because I am a hopeless optimist, I know that in the end the system does work. That the right job is out there, and it’s all a matter of time and persistence. Until then, I have local jury duty coming up, maybe then I can buy lunch!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I am a virtual game addict

One of the downsides to being unemployed is that I am pretty much free to do whatever I want. How is this bad? The first being, if I don’t apply to jobs, no one will ever offer me one, that’s for one. The second downside is, I have to say no to playing virtual games.
I never thought that I would have such a problem, but as my score begins to rise, this competitive side kicks in, and I want to be the number one person, of all my friends, on that list. Even when it’s been months and I have been crushing a game and no one else is even playing anymore, I still can’t stop. Why?! Because the magical game fairies come out with a new gimmick, that makes the game even more addicting to me.
Originally I used the virtual games as a reward system. When I would accomplish something in my school work, as a reward I would then play one of my games. Then when I began applying and researching jobs I would use the games as a reward if I applied to a certain amount of jobs that day. But as time went on, and the jobs all seemed to be the same, my reward became my escape.
Virtual games give no “reward” people say, but that is not true. I feel as though I have accomplished something when I move up the ranks. I feel like I am really good at something, and my determination and planning can be seen with the ease I begin to dominate. But the truth is, now my games aren’t as much fun, but I just don’t see why I should stop. My answer was always, “I will stop when I get a job,” but that day has not come yet. So as time goes on, I play the games more and more, not as a reward, but to feel like I am “doing” something. The worst part is, this once “rewarding” experience now controls my schedule. My day is scheduled around my fake kitchen, and fake farm, and this is no way to live.
As I work more on my writing the games have gone back to being rewards. And hopefully soon I will be able to say, I remember when I used to have the top score in that game, before I had this job.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The pains of being a writer

I thought that writing a book would be hard, and to my surprise the words have so far just flowed. Trust me there is much editing to do, but it’s been really exciting. But then one day the realization occurred to me that I was going to run out of stories. My life is pretty bland on a daily basis. I don’t like to go out all of the time, and to make matters worse I feel as though I have a terrible memory. Some days it takes all of my energy just to remember what really happened. Which, was when I learned the lesson that, we as humans really do remember things differently, and I was going to have to come to terms with this, or not write anymore.
I rarely take the time to read some of my work to Michael, but one day I decided I needed to know if this was really funny or not. Was I insane to wrap so much time and energy into this project if it was all in my head that it was going to make the New York Times Best Sellers list?! So I read him one of the chapters I was working on at the time, to which he did indeed laughed a few times to my surprise. It was after it was over though that he made a comment about how I remember things in my own little way. What did that mean? Was I totally off? I’m trying to make an accurate representation of what really happened, but how can I do that when I don’t remember “it” how  “it” even happened?
So I ask him how it had happened to which he clarified a few of my points. I thought about it and decided to change the points so they would be more accurate, but when I looked back on the story, that isn’t how I remembered it. I had to change it back. It was at that moment that I better understood that it was okay to see thing differently. That is how life is. See, this book is about the way I remember the events. These are my truths, this is what I know. So, I have had to learn to come to grips with the fact that I am just writing it the way I remember and that if someone else who read this story was there, they may remember it differently. And, after you read the book, you can clarify those events, after all I’m going to need a second book and one of the chapters will be called “Schooled” from when you all come and tell me how wrong I was.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The best things in life...

They say the best things in life are free, but it seems like there is so little that is free anymore. There is always a price tag attached, but somehow we still have this saying, why is that? Well, I imagine it has something to do with smiles, laughter, compliments, hugs, kisses, and so much more.
Right now at this very moment my sister-in-law and brother are getting ready to welcome their first child into the world. Even this act will cost huge amounts of money being exchanged by the insurance company, the doctors, the hospital, and so many more that we will never know, but it’s priceless. Worth every penny, the cost of bringing a healthy, happy, baby into the world. This act is far from free, something that just 100 years ago was, has turned into a multi-billion dollar venture. But once he is born, every action will be those free actions that we hear so much about, but rarely get to see and appreciate when we don’t have a baby of our own.
Today the total will go up to 3 nieces, and 1 nephew, and all the children of our close friends and cousins, and that is something that is priceless. To be an aunt again, to be there when he comes, and to learn his name, all acts that are free and willing. To hear him make those little noises, and to see him make what you think is a smile, to see him open his eyes, getting to hold him in your arms for the first time. These are the moments that money has nothing to do with, and no matter how much or little you have has no effect on the moment. Only you get to decide how that moment affects you, or how you let it affect you.
So when you hear that the best things in life are free, and you can’t remember the last “free” thing, think of that smile you receive from a complete stranger, or the hug you got from someone you love. Those are the things that pull you through the tough times, those are things that are the best things in life that anyone can afford.  

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sleepless nights

When you no longer have the demands of a job to structure your day, one may feel like they can lose control of themselves pretty easily. When you don’t have to be up to go to work, you may stay up late as a treat because you know you can sleep in tomorrow. Well, when you are unemployed every tomorrow is a sleep in day. Sounds exciting, right?
When you are unemployed it is important that you keep some kind of structure in your life as best as you can. You become your own boss in a way. We take for granted our lives being scheduled for us. I used to think, ‘if only I didn’t have to work I could do so much more,’ and now here it is, I have all of the time. Well, I find this is not always the case when funds are limited and there are no demands on your time. You will push things to next week, or tomorrow, because you can. For me, I will admit that I am terrible at forcing myself to go to bed at times, because knowing I don’t have to be anywhere in the morning can be a hard realization that wears on me. So when I realized that it was getting more difficult to sleep at night, easier to not leave the house, and my showers weren’t taking place until the afternoons, I realized there needed to be a change and it was up to me to take control. I needed to restructure my day. No, I needed to structure my day period!
I feel like being unemployed is not always a choice, in my case, I feel as though I have no control in the matter, but I can control my day. Losing control can equal hopelessness, so become your own boss. For example, I write this blog and post it by lunch every other day. I have a deadline, created by me, followed by me. I work on my book Monday’s through Friday. I do not put a time limit or maximum on it, because it is art, and you need to let art flow. Plus it doesn’t hurt that I like my “job”, so if I feel it on the weekend, I put some time in.
I force myself to do my errands in the morning. First off, it’s the best time to go to the grocery store. It’s like everything has been prepared fresh just for me. I used to shop on Friday nights when the shelves were half empty, and it was a chore after a long day of work. Now it seems that everything is brighter and the people whom are working are happier on a weekday morning, smiling is contagious, do it.  Plus when I’m done with whatever I have left the house to do, I have already accomplished so much before lunch. And that is the goal, to feel like you have accomplished something every day, regardless how big or how small. Never stop doing!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Baby making blues

For as long as I can remember people have always told me I would be a good mother. This was something that was always mind boggling to me because I never thought I showed much enthusiasm in front of children. If anything I thought I was even toned, and not too exciting. But there must be something about that which children like and their parents like more. You aren’t trying to be their parent, and you aren’t trying to get them to love you more, you are just treating them with an even level of attention and actually listening to what they say. Or it could just be my hit pitched voice that all children and animals seem to respond to, who really knows?
So when I thought in my mid-twenties that children would never be in my future I decided to tell my parents. They were shocked, and said what everyone always said, “you would be a great mother,” which I found ironic being that I was not considered the best child. Maybe they wanted me to suffer as they felt they had with me. But no, they were honestly concerned with the fact that I may never be a mother.
A little over two years ago now, I went back to college to finish my BA. My boyfriend at the time, and my husband now, told me this would put a hold on family. At the time I was probably 5% interested in having a baby. Well, 2 years later and 4 nieces and a nephew, and so many friends with their little bundles of joy here or on the way, has put a different spin on things. But just because you want something doesn’t mean you can always have it. Sure I am home so I can take care of a baby, but the resources are stretched out real thin with one person having to take on the financial burden of two adults and one with student loans totaling as much as a BMW M6 (nice car by the way).
Living in my fantasy world that everything always works out, I assumed I was going to get an amazing job making six figures and have all of my debts paid off in 2 years, if we buckled down. But, with no job in sight what’s a girl to do? So I picked up a hobby and began to write a book. I have been working on this book for only a few weeks longer than I have this blog.  So my next part in this “process”, if you can believe this, is editing my first draft of 21 chapters, and starting to look for an agent. Why not? Who knows?  I might not be working for The New York Times, and I may not be much of a writer, after all I’m no Justin Bieber, but the stories speak for themselves. Watch out Stephen Colbert you will be interviewing me…

Monday, September 13, 2010

The art of rejection

When you are constantly applying for jobs, and don’t hear anything back, you have to get used to a little thing called rejection. There is a whole other level when you actually make it to the point of the interview and then weeks later you learn they went with someone, “with more experience.” This isn’t bothersome, because it makes sense. Of course if I had the pick of the litter I would want the person who best fit the requirements I was looking for. It just sounds like good business.

But, there comes this point when you start to question, “what am I doing wrong,” because it must be something?! For me that point was months ago, but for my new husband his time in now. He tweaked my resume, helps me with my cover letters, and he helps me look for the jobs that I am best suited for. When HE wasn’t getting any interviews he was baffled. He just couldn’t understand what HE did wrong. Now keep in mind that this is me. I’m the one on that paper, and I’m the one they are talking to, so he should not take it personally, I should! But I came to grips with the fact that I am probably interviewing with at least 15% more people than I ever had to compete with before. And there are probably a minimum of 25% more resumes being sent out than ever before.

I have come to terms with the fact that they can’t get to know me in 30 minutes. That being dressed in a black suit just makes me blend in, not stick out. That being on time, or smiling politely, even answering the question just the way they want to hear it, does not secure anything anymore. There are people out there with much more experience willing to take the pay cut, or people with less experience but they think are more willing to accept the mediocre pay while you will not. Companies are more inclined to judge you without even asking, or assuming that you will never be happy to be entry level, even though you did apply for that job in the first place.

Stay strong, and hold on tight, because when you are an unemployed person who is looking for work, not only do you have to get used to rejection, you also have to get used to being constantly judged by someone, and feeling like you are never quite good enough when you get that e-mail, call or letter that they went with someone else.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A gift is a gift...or is it?

Is it still a gift if you don’t pay for it? I mean, they say that a gift comes from the heart, so if I were to think of the gift, physically purchase the gift, wrap the gift, and give the gift, is it from me? When you don’t have an income questions like these begin to haunt you. They haunt you, because you never had to ask them before. You knew if you went out and purchased the gift with the money that you had earned from your pay check, you have obviously given that gift. But when you are using someone else’s money, somehow you question the authentic nature that is a gift.

So, if it is the thought that counts then I should be able to tell you what I wanted to get you and that should be enough…right? Honestly there have been many times in the last year that I wanted to get something for my husband, and I say to him, “I wanted to get you tickets to (fill in the blank with the coolest event you can think of), I’m sorry.” I’m lucky because he is happy that I even thought to buy him something, even that I knew he would have liked to have done (coolest event ever - place here). But others are not as forgiving.

In the case of all of my nieces it breaks my heart to know that we are limited because of our “financial situation” to a budget. When it’s a birthday for a friend or a special occasion such as a wedding, we pull together resources from other regions of the budget because, well that’s what you do. But when it comes to us, there is no Christmas, and birthdays are days to spend together, not days to open the perfect gift.

But back to the original question, is a gift from me if I did not pay for it? Am I entitled to feel the joy of giving, “the perfect gift,” when without him giving me the money that gift would never had occurred? I tell myself we are a team, and yes I am still able to feel as excited. But I think this is one of the more trying parts of unemployment, because I want nothing more than to be able to buy a gift and feel like it was all me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Identity Crisis

Being unemployed at first has to have been one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with, because ultimately it was not my choice. I say ultimately because I had hoped that after graduating I would be on my way to a great career doing something that I loved. Our careers and jobs become a part of our identity, so when I was a fulltime student people could relate that to being a part of my identity at that time. But, now when people ask me what I do, and I have no answer, it is as if I am not a whole person to them anymore.

When coming back from my honeymoon, on re-entry into the country I was asked for my profession. My reply was, “none,” and as the man from immigration looked up at me for a brief second and said, “housewife,” and then skipped to my husband where they began to talk about his career. At that moment it was as if a relief had washed over me. I was no longer a “none” and I did have a title. But within a day I realized that this title was nothing short of ridiculous for me. First we have an apartment, and yes I do most of the cleaning and running of errands, but mostly that’s because of guilt. How can I make him do anything when I can’t pay the bills? We have two cats, no children, and being a housewife was not a choice, it was bestowed upon me by a person who works for the government because I was married just a week before and had to re-enter the country.

After so many months of applying for jobs and hearing back from few, and getting interviews from fewer, I decided I needed to do something for me so that I did not let not having a job control my identity. That is when I decided to write. I am sure that professional writers everywhere are cringing at the thought that I now think of myself as a writer, but don’t worry I don’t think of myself as a professional…yet. I hope and aspire, but now I have a reason to get up and push through my day. That’s why I am writing this, to hopefully inspire others, not necessarily to be a writer, but to do something, try something, aim higher than just to get a job.

There are good days and bad days, but everyday that I feel like I decided what I did and not that I am at the whim of someone else judging me is a day that I did not let pass me by…

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My first blog

When I was younger I hated to read. Mostly I hated it because I did not understand the English language. It was so confusing, and infuriating, but for some odd reason I cannot “sound out” words. So reading was not my strong point. But, my parents pushed and pushed, and after learning I was memorizing the books, and not to perfection I might add, they had to come up with another plan.

With many tutors, summers filled with reading, and many more reading competitions at the school level and in our home, I became what I consider to be an expert reader. Unfortunately it never carried over to my writing. My grammar is atrocious, and my lack of vocabulary usually makes for a paper that a 10th grader could have written. But somehow I graduated from college writing hundreds of pages, and still just as terrible as when I had entered.

I am writing this blog not to influence anyone’s use of the English language, but to push the boundaries of what I was always told I should not do. My Professors would push me to “do the oral presentation,” but without fail I would hand in another grammar disaster. This blog will help you to understand the pains of deciding to write a book. Not only will this include my daily disaster of remembering events as they actually happened, but figuring out the words to actually describe that event. The pains of being funny, but also charming, while never losing sight of the events as I remembered them and want others too enjoy them so maybe they too can learn things as I did.

So, please enjoy the diary of the unemployed, since I am not yet a writer, and I don’t consider myself a housewife since we rent. I just consider myself a girl who graduated from college and can’t find a job like so many others.