The Unemployment Diaries- The Three As

I’m neither psychologist nor sociologist but there are stages to unemployment. As I’m too lazy to do the research let’s just go with mine because who really cares about anyone else. Besides you’re not reading this blog for its factual accuracy, right?

First there was Anger and plenty of it to go around. Thankfully, that didn’t last too long because it gets tiring and alienates you from a lot of people (mostly because you’re not that fun to hang out with). At some point it fades and Apathy moves in. With the economic situation as it has been if you’ve been without a job for more than a year and are not feeling apathetic then you’ve got great pharmaceuticals (and the healthcare to pay for them- go you!). It can’t be bypassed when you’re crafting hundreds of cover letters and rewriting your resume to perfectly suit each opening and then hearing nothing back. Job hunting is brutally dehumanizing. YOU. DON’T. EXIST. At some point, it becomes easier to phone in the application process and check out emotionally. And even, eventually, stop trying at all.

Recently, with the help of some new age spiritual leaders and a consistent meditation practice, I reached that most elusive of states (for highly strung type A personalities): Acceptance. This is a very difficult concept for me because it smacks of the above-mentioned apathy and worse, laziness. If something bad happens to you, just accept it? No. You fight for what you want and against what you don’t want. Action must be taken. But like so many of the beliefs I have held dear for most of my adult life being unemployed has knocked this one on its ass.

Imagine my surprise when, during a recent walk, I realized ‘I’m unemployed and I may never be employed in the traditional sense again.’ My stomach didn’t clench nor did I get that cotton-ball-stuffed-into-the-base-of-my-throat feeling. No euphoric rush, no Oprah “AHA moment” (don’t get me started) just a simple feeling of well-being. Completely bizarre in my world but I went with it. In fact, I’ve been testing it at various points in the last few weeks; feeling acceptance when things went well and when they didn’t. It’s kind of invigorating.

Which is why it can’t last. To truly embrace acceptance you have to understand that it’s a moving target. You don’t get to say ‘I accept this’ and be done. There is no goal because one of the things you have to accept in life (so I’ve been told) is that change and uncertainty are the only constants. So…what is the point in accepting your situation? It’s going to change anyway. And if all is uncertain than how can you be certain of your acceptance? Maybe you’re only partially accepting while all the while truly hoping that the current shit hurries up and goes away so the good stuff can begin. Or your acceptance of the current situation makes you less inclined for certain life changes (I'm all right being unemployed and want only a part-time job).

It’s at this point, I remember why I flunked out of philosophy class. This kind of world view makes my ears bleed. I think I get it and I feel the bliss but no, hang on, it’s gone. Acceptance is one slippery bugger. It’s unlikely I’ll get my hands, much less my mind, around it anytime again in this lifetime.

Does this mean I have to go back to the beginning with anger? Because I'm too tired to manage it.


  1. Catherine,
    Such an inspiring and heart felt post.

    I hope all is well with you.

    SSG xxx

  2. Don't get pissed (or angry, to stick with the "a's" theme) but I think you are analyzing things too much. You don't have to accept any crap, but if you're constantly fighting it and anticipating the next shit storm, you're only keeping yourself in a constant state of anxiety (a couple more a's.) There's a difference between acceptance and resignation. You can't control the fact that things change, but you can accept the fluid nature of things.

    Do what you can with what you have and know you have the tools to handle whatever change comes your way. You're in a rough patch, but you do still have options, even if they aren't ideal and they aren't permanent. Don't hate me.

  3. SSG- so glad you're stopping by and I hope you're doing well!

    Abby- no hate because I don't disagree with you. Overanalyzing is what I do. I guess I thought I was getting better at letting go than I really am.

  4. That's some circular thinking, girl. Acceptance, to me, means you accept that you're out of work, and that you will find something, you just don't know what that is yet. Once you accept where you are - you're unemployed - ok - you have no choice but to find employment to put food in your mouth - ok - so you forge ahead. That was a run-on sentence but you get my drift. Don't despair. You will manage it!

    People Do Things With Their Lives

  5. I know exactly. I was unemployed during the last recession, in the 90's. I went through all that, I know what it's like to not exist. With the stopping sending applications, you're right on spot. I found it was a waste of time. Noone would read my application anyway. I started looking up places where I could work, no matter if they were looking for someone, and made phone calls. That's what I've always done ever since.
    I really hope you will find a job. Your statement that you may never be employed again is so sad. But I know the feeling. Sending hugs!

  6. My favorite stage has always been bargaining...comes with being raised Catholic.

    I'm an over-analyzer too. I like to think it keeps me from making dumb decisions, but it also keeps me from making ANY decision. I wouldn't go back to anger, agree it's too exhausting.

    My Mom always told me I needed to learn to "roll with the punches," but that just made me want to punch her, so I won't try any pithy pep talk phrasing.

  7. I was laid off in December. I knew about it before hand and was initially okay with it, but as situations changed and I realized I was being lied to, hoo BOY the anger! (That anger has now changed to "what is WRONG with me? why didn't they KEEP me?" self-doubt, but that's another story for another day.)

    Your three A's make sense to me!

  8. This was a great post! I'm sorry to hear about your unemployment but I hope something great comes out of it. I've been doing some similar thinking because I'm working on "stress reduction" which seems to mean lots of deep breathing and not worrying... but then when does not being stressed out mean not trying? And when does trying not to worry become stressful? I'm not sure. Best of luck thinking through all this

  9. Thanks to all the readers stopping by from the Not a Mommy blog hop. I certainly don't like hearing that anyone else is unemployed but it does make me feel less alone.

    Chibi- they laid you off because their idtiots. Plain and simple. It's NOT you.

    Tracy- I hear you on the punches. My mother doesn't even know about this blog because she'd comment about saying novenas. Enough said.

  10. God, it's so great to read this post. I'm unemployed as of about 7 weeks ago (I started doing a "Diary of the Unemployed" series lasted a week) and everything you say is so true. Job hunting is dehumanizing. And acceptance is serene. And it's almost a relief to accept the situation and not wake up worrying about finding a job, or going to sleep wondering if anyone will call you. I've been lucky enough to have super support so my alienation phase was minimal, but it sounds like you have a really insightful grasp on the situation and I wish you nothing but luck and happiness :) Yx

  11. Yana, thank you so much for your comment! It's not an easy situation and the posts are difficult as well but I feel these things need to be said. There are so many of us out there it's obscene. I'm glad you have support- it will save you. I hope things go as you want them to!


Post a Comment

No other way around it- I LOVE hearing from you!