Unemployed. It's a word with too many bad associations linked to it. And with good reason. Being unemployed. Which means that you would like to have a job, but somehow don't have one.
In the end of 2007 I decided to move back to the old country after having worked and lived abroad for almost 7 years. At the time, the market was doing well and I was optimistic, even a little cocky about getting a job when I arrived at the Mothership. Had I not worked for World Bank? And WWF? And did I not have a lovely and fancy Master degree from Abroad? The world was at my feet. Or so I thought.
Then I got pregnant. The pregnancy was great, and the result even better, but after having been out of the loop for almost 1 1/2 year, I emerged from Maternityleaveville to find that while I was away the Finance Crisis had hit the world. And suddenly jobs were sparse. Very sparse. And all my fancy-smancy experience and my fancy-smancy masterdegree from abroad meant nothing no more.
It's been 6 months. 6 months with application letters, resumes, interviews, and at the end, a rather sad email or phone call telling me that although I were great, my background is soooo impressive, they decided to go with someone else, someone with a more suited education/job experience/background/haircut. And then the dance starts again.
Being unemployed over a longer period of time makes you question yourself on all levels. Which is rather scary, not the least to mention depressing. When I first arrived here I thought I was so hot. As in oh-my-god-you-are-so-hot!! But recently I have found myself looking at jobads for call-centers, for receptionists, for assistants... Not to say that these jobs are in any way bad or not worthy, but I thought that after 7 years at uni and 3 years doing consultancy work in the Mighty Abroad, I would have thought I would be able to something a little bit more... relevant maybe?
And the shame. I could write books about shame. Friends are telling me that being unemployed isn't shamefull. That there is no need to feel shame, that it's because of the market being what it is, that things will change soon. And yes, there might not be a real reason to feel shame, but still you do. I look around at all my other friends who have jobs. They are doing something worthwhile! They are earning money! They are going places! And I, I am not doing anything, I am not earning money, and I am definetly not going places. The few times I dig deep into my pockets and decide to treat myself to a beer or a glass of wine with friends and their collegues, my shame becomes even more clear. "Oh", I will tell people, strangers we meet, friends of friends, "I am unemployed at the moment, I am looking for a new job". And I smile and laugh and pretend I couldn't care less. Pretend it doesn't matter. Pretend that I don't want to kneel down and BEG someone to just give me a chance, any chance, at anything!
And then i walk home (because i can't afford a cab) and I feel unwanted, outside the group, left out of the joke. Because that is how it is. I feel left out, not a part of... anything. In this society work equals worth. And yes, you can argue that it shouldn't be so, but that's the fact. And again and again being told that you weren't good enough, that they chose someone else, does something to you. It does something to your selfworth, to your sense of you. I have never questioned myself as I do these days. And not only proffesionally, I question everything about myself.
This post ended up much sadder that it was intended to be. But I guess that's the ugly truth. Being unemployed is sad.