A period of unemployment will cover a variety of emotional states.
There is the initial “Oh, God what am I going to do?” phase which in my case combined in equal parts with the “Thank God, it’s over” phase.
At some point I seem to go through a “Poor, poor pitiful me” phase. My personality is just not built to stay there very long so it’s over in a matter of days.
I’ve talked about the cabin fever that has popped up. This is the only one of my three stints on unemployment that has come in the winter. Both previous times (1983 and 2000) came just as summer was getting rolling. Personally I prefer warm weather unemployment.
So this has become a ongoing series of “projects” to keep me busy. Looking for a job tops that list I will note. I’ve put out five more applications in the last week. One each in Pittsburgh, Lexington, Birmingham, Midlothian (VA), and Conway (AR). There are still two others that, to the best of my knowledge, are still active.
Then there’s the digitizing project. Taking years of radio tapes and turning them into MP3s and taking years of home video and burning DVDs. The upside is seeing parts of our family history that I hadn’t looked at in years. The downside is that digitzing is done in “real time” (meaning if the tape runs an hour it takes an hour to dub). Which means that it’s more of a “set and forget” type activity. In other words, it’s boring. So then I try to have something else to do while the tape is running. I’m trying my hand at some simple wood carving with some promising initial results. There’s writing to do and guitar to practice.
The projects serve another purpose. They help me through the rough times. Dealing with being mostly alone. My lady wife won’t be home for another 6 weeks. Finding out that the form of my severance package means I can’t collect unemployment till April. Which means if I don’t find a job quickly I can’t build the kind of monetary buffer I did last time. Then we got the figure for continuing our health insurance. Actually we got two figures, one stiff and the other impossible. I need to follow up and find out which figure is correct. Going to Plan B, the Affordable Care Act, I ran into a small problem with the website so wasn’t able to check that out yet. Plus there’s the emotional drag of not hearing what I would like to hear from some of the job applications. Not just the turn downs but the places that seem to be dragging their feet.
That last one is really frustrating.
If I focus on those things gloom will drop down on my shoulders. That’s a weight that will slowly crush you if you let it stay. It’s a hard time to be unemployed. You hear stories of folks without work for years now. The fear of that will try to wrap cold, hard fingers around your heart. It will squeeze until there is no room for hope. My projects are designed to keep my mind focused on positive things. To hold back the darkness.
Sounds pretty dramatic, I know. For once in my life I’m trying to avoid the drama. So I’ll work on my projects, and I’ll write my radio scripts, and work on my book, and my guitar, and post to my blogs.
So that I’m ready for my next real job.
Whatever it turns out to be.
And I’ll keep you up to date on how that goes.