I’ve been unemployed for the past couple of months. It sucks. I had grown accustomed to paying my bills and still having some money to spend on the things I wanted. I filed for unemployment almost immediately but the wonderful State of Oregon took their sweet time processing my claim. All of a sudden, I had $10 in my pocket and nothing in the bank and no hope in sight for any kind of paycheck. It was scary. It wasn’t until the fourth week that they finally approved me for unemployment and sent me a weekly pittance check compared to what my income usually is. I was embarrassed to ask my friends for help because most of them are strapped for cash too. So I held my breath, kept my wits in check, clutched onto every cent I could, and hoped the state money would carry me through until I finally found a job.
I was too ashamed to use the food bank so I quit eating when my kids weren’t here. I wanted to conserve food for their dinners and breakfasts. Since losing my job in October, I’ve lost twenty pounds. I’ve been too ashamed to use any of the food banks because I should have done a better job saving my money for this type of rainy day and I should have donated more when I had money in my pocket. A neighbor heard me discussing my lack of funds and grocery bags full of food appeared on my porch. I cried for hours in humble humility and thanks. For Thanksgiving, I hosted a potluck and invited all of my amazing friends. I gained three pounds that week because they all left their leftovers for me and the kids – and they needed to be eaten before they went bad. It was one of the best holidays I’ve ever celebrated. So full of fun and laughter and food. The food in my stomach gave me a new sort of power over my life. It sounds odd to say it like that but feeling well fed really does change a person.
It didn’t surprise me that my first interview after Thanksgiving was a success and I’ve been shortlisted with only one other person for the position. The second interview landed me an offer within days. I’m now in a position where after being unemployed and starving for two months to having potentially competing offers. The first job is a full-time permanent position with massive benefits and a huge leap into an industry that is nearly impossible to break into. The second job, with the offer in hand, is a contract position that will last a minimum of six months. In my field, 95% of the positions are contract so a full-time permanent position is highly coveted. The second job is also twice as far away and during commute hours, that’s not going to be an exciting thing. So I’ve decided to accept the contract position and pursue the permanent one. For those of you who haven’t worked contract positions, it’s the same as a permanent position now-a-days just with an expiration date. I earn money through a W-2, the company I work for deducts taxes from my paycheck, and I’m usually offered a company provided benefits package.
So now, after almost a year of hell. My world is looking up. I will soon have money in my pocket again, I’ve learned how to appreciate the things that I have and not worry about the things I don’t have, I’ve learned how to stand up for myself, I’ve stopped trying to make enemies out of my past and instead focus on the positive prospect of the future. I’ve learned to love with open arms, not only the people around me but I’ve had to learn to love myself too. I have amazing kids, a nice home, a job I can be proud of, lots of loving friends, and my world is falling back together after being broken for so long.
So here’s my parting words for today… If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re hurting, let someone know – having someone nearby is sometimes the best medicine. If you’re broke, keep looking for the break in the clouds – keep pursuing work, don’t give up. If you’re not happy with who you are, change yourself – no one else can change you except you. Don’t let someone else’s choices become your choices – decide for yourself how you would like your world to be and pursue it. I had to learn to accept that not everyone sees the world the way I do and that’s okay, but I don’t have to live the way they dictate. I can do things my own way and if I lose a friend or family member over it, that is their choice to not accept that I am different from who they want me to be.