Life Among the Underemployed – Psychic Shock

(These posts will appear when there is something to report)

You may notice a change in the headline.  It should have come up sooner but I’m still wrapping my head around it.


I am no longer technically “unemployed”.

I never appeared in the government’s unemployment statistics for the simple reason that I never qualified for them.  While I have certainly BEEN unemployed since November, I was not among the statistics.

Back in February, my status changed.  I even talked about it here.  After undergoing the necessary background check, health check, and application process, I became a substitute teacher in the local school district.

But I still thought of myself as “unemployed”.  In reality, I was bringing in a regular check.  Well, the check was regular, even if the amount wasn’t.

By definition “underemployment” is – “the condition in which people in a labor force are employed at less than full-time or regular jobs or at jobs inadequate with respect to their training or economic needs”.

That’s me.  Employed at less than full time at a job that is inadequate to our financial needs.

We’re paying our bills, but having to dip into our reserves every month to do it.

I’ve applied for 60 jobs, I’ve gotten one interview.  For a job that would have made our lives and finances worse rather than better.  I never hear back from most of them.  It’s a grind.  One that is beginning to wear me down.

There’s a part of me that is dealing with a change in my fundamental belief in my future.  This isn’t the future I believed was coming.  I’m not sure I’m capable at this point of putting into words the paradigm shift that I’m in.  You work hard, you get an education, you work hard some more.  There will be some dips along the way, but in the end, everything will work out.  Hard times are for people who weren’t blessed with the starting point I had.  It was supposed to be a kind of insurance policy against hard times.

It was always a lie.  But it was a comforting lie and so I believed.  Having that belief taken away carries an enormous psychic shock that I am only just beginning to confront.  It makes everything harder.

There’s a story that I have repeated for years.  I remember it being told to me as “an old Indian tale”, but I have no idea if that’s true.  It’s the story that I cling to at moments like this.  The story goes as follows:

One day Rabbit was out foraging for food and didn’t notice how far he had gotten from his burrow.  Suddenly, Wolf sprang out from the bushes, jaws snapping.  Off went Rabbit as fast as he could go with Wolf just a half step behind.  As he ran, Rabbit passed the burrow of one of his brother rabbits, who watched the chase coming towards him.  He looked at Rabbit, and he looked at the distance to the burrow, and he looked at how close Wolf’s teeth were to his friend.  As Rabbit raced by, the other rabbit called out, “Do you think you’ll make it?”

To which Rabbit responded, “What choice do I have?”

I’m tired.  And scared. And angry.

But what choice do I have?


So I will keep my head up, my eyes open, my heart strong.

Waiting to see the next chapter in my life.

Whatever it turns out to be.

And I’ll keep you up to date on how that goes.



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