The price of unemployment paralysis
By laurelarockefeller on October 08, 2012
I've been unemployed for three and a half years. In that time, only ONE two month temp job -- at the US Census -- has come my way. I've been on less than 10 interviews total and seriously broke the big toe on my left foot trying to go to one when the security door to the office ran over it.
I've moved three times as a result of my unemployment. First to a tiny studio in Midwood Brooklyn, then to stay with a friend in Cresson, Pennyslvania, and finally to my current apartment in Oakhurst Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
I've also run up a LOT of debt. Unemployment doesn't begin to cover even basic living expenses in New York City (though it does help some!) and I had to charge much of my living expenses like food, electric, and internet. The result: I have been paying more per month out of my savings on the minimum payments for my credit cards than my friend paid in rent for his modest one bedroom apartment in Cresson.
I've also made some very stupid financial choices -- even though I know better. Probably the biggest was deciding that despite my complete lack of income I NEEDED to fly to Nebraska for my class reunion -- at a cost of over $1000 in additional credit card charges, plus the cost of THREE gowns from David's bridal (for those who don't know, David's Bridal is an affordable option for semi-formal dresses -- no matter the occasion!). Thanks to a lack of pet sitting services and a lack of interest by my classmates in helping me get around Lincoln (with 20/80 vision, I obviously do not drive), I CANCELLED my trip for the reunion about three weeks out -- making all those charges on my credit cards utterly meaningless.
And requiring me to take another trip on United within six months, a trip I took in November 2010 to Chicago -- at four times the cost it should have had I not been using a credit balance with United and had flown another airline. JFK to Ohare is not normally that expensive!
While I did enjoy my weekend in Chicago (add another $500 on credit for hotel in addition to what I spent before) and loved teaching at Royal University Midrealms, 2010 was a financial disaster for me, running up enormous unnecessary debt that I had absolutely no means to pay back.
It's part of the temptation of credit cards -- one that makes the banks rich and ruins your credit.
In other words, I dug myself into a nasty mess that I did not need to get into.
This is what happens when we freeze up in the face of fear. Instead of thinking through the long term consequences, the easy and perhaps natural instinct is to go into shock and denial. We tell ourselves "somehow this will work out" without making a clear cut plan for doing so.
Or more precisely, without making a dynamic plan for doing so.
In these past three and a half years, I've done everything that worked before this Great Recession to secure employment, the things that landed me all my previous jobs. I've sent out my resume, posted my resume every place I can think of, and looked on job boards daily.
This used to work. It doesn't anymore.
I've also tried to start a business. That business failed -- and got me taken advantage of. A business "associate" manipulated me out of about half of my personal belongings. And the scary thing...that was not the first time I fell for a scam in the past 12 years!
Yes, I've made some pretty crummy decisions and absolutely trusted the wrong people.
This is what fear does to you. When you see your world burning around you, your first instinct becomes paralyzation. It's easier to do nothing and burn than to center yourself and find your way out of a mess.
Now my mess is bigger than it needed to be and I find myself feeling afraid. With savings dwindling faster than ever, I'm hitting a do or die moment. No one will help me now -- yet I have more than double the bills I did even two months ago.
I need SOMETHING -- ANYTHING. And I'm scared. I've tried everything I can think of to make things better. I've even self published my book -- but being completely unknown, I don't stand a chance right now at getting sales and the precious royalties I need to buy food.
I've been trusting to luck and that confidence that the universe won't let me perish. But now I wonder. What if the universe only helps those who make wise decisions and move beyond the terror of the flames around them.
I sit among the boxes afraid to eat lest I not be able to replace the food my friend gave me. I am afraid to turn on a light; electricity is now my financial responsibility.
I took too much for granted and wasted too much time. Will I perish after all?
What hope is there that the sun will ever come out? what hope is there I won't lose my precious feathered children and end up shivering on the street.
No one wants to hire a disabled person, no matter how well educated or brilliant, no matter how skilled.
What good does my intellect do me now?
Laurel A. Rockefeller, author
The Great Succession Crisis
E-Book ISBN: 9781476243344
Print book ISBN: 978-1479144808