Throughout this bout of long term unemployment, I have definitely worn out going through the various phases of grief. And you know what? It’s not as fun as it sounds.
1. Denial & isolation: Persona non grata. Loser. Under-achiever. Everyone and their “employment” and “working” are always so busy! Obsessed with their own self-importance is more like it. I can totally have self-worth without a traditional “societally-acceptable” career. Sheesh. The only responsible career path is to work for The Man. Creative endeavors are for the young.
2. Anger: I remember when my dad retired after 23 years in the military and ventured into the private sector. It was 1980, two years before the oil glut took out a lot of energy companies. He was in his mid-40’s and had two completely different job offers. Offers, as in plural. It was a time in which companies vied for talented workers, not hired college graduates to work in the mail room. He was offered a position as an office manager in a large law firm in Cincinnati, OH and as the Director of Marketing in Oklahoma City, OK. He took the job in OKC. My point is that employers took transferrable skills into consideration and that equated to varied opportunities for workers. Two completely different jobs for which he was qualified, neither of which he had exact experience to do, yet they recognized his skills. This is simply not the case now. In my recent experience, employers have so much of the upper-hand in the job sector that they have the luxury to call all the shots. They are heavily interested in what a candidate has done and matching those skills exactly, not what the candidate can do. This isn’t sour grapes. It’s just the way it is. The pendulum will have to swing back.
3. Bargaining: If only I hadn’t slept with that co-worker or told my boss that her husband was cheating on her. I thought she’d appreciate knowing. Some people can be so intense. I can’t help it if my co-workers are intimidated by how attractive I am. If only I hadn’t tried to embezzle those funds. It’s not like the company was going to miss a couple hundred grand. I was only a few credits short of graduating, so what’s the big deal putting “graduate” on my resume? It’s just words on paper anyway. I could totally be happy in refuse management. So what if that job description made me throw up a little in my mouth thinking about it? Isn’t that normal? I miss going to interminable meetings. I’ve always wanted “technician” in my job title. Like selling drugs to make ends meet is that big of a deal. I can totally channel Nancy Botwin from Weeds.
4. Depression: This totally blows. There are really handy things associated with full-time employment. Contributions to retirement savings. Caribbean vacations. Dinner. Savings. Self-worth, however displaced. If someone tells me to think outside the box one more time I’m going to off myself. I hate thinking about boxes and whether I’m in them, or out of them or should be doing something else in a corrugated fashion. Nobody Likes Me. Everybody hates me. Guess I’ll go eat worms.
5. Acceptance: It could always be worse; I could be incarcerated. Gosh, I’m an upbeat lady! I love being the master of my time. I’ve regained my health. I have time to be creative and linger with my kids. I’m ready to re-join a kinder rat race and find my new niche. There are great opportunities out there. I’ll find a great job where I can contribute and funnel my immense energy and talent. Life Technician. It has a nice ring to it.