An image of a sign stating 'whatever it takes'.

THE UNEMPLOYMENT CATCH

You sit at home, a strange emptiness in your bones. Outside, the sun shines, grazing the windowpane, just far enough away that the heat can’t get in. Over the days, a feeling seems to creep in, through the brickwork of your house, into the walls and into the palms of your hands. After a while, you forget what it was like to feel productive, you can’t believe you were ever a productive person. In fact, you’re sure that you can’t have ever been productive; it feels too far away, like someone who wasn’t you. You look at them through a television screen in your mind, a distant actor playing yourself, but DEFINITELY not you. You’re unemployed, and this is the catch 22.

When we become unemployed, we lose a piece of what keeps us going. Our schedule changes, our routine is corrupted. We might enjoy the break at first, but it’s glazed with a tension where we hunt for work, often holding ourselves to increasingly higher standards by the day. Each day that we are without stable work, and income, we exist with a little more panic. This panic keeps us in a catch, where we are inevitably incapable of high-quality work, but where we need to achieve that more than ever.

Unemployment affects us all at one time or another. Yet, when we’re in it we feel that we are unique in our struggle. We feel that nobody else could have possibly been unemployed quite like us. We’re sure that we’re unemployed because of WHO WE ARE. There’s a stigma of unemployment, of what it looks like and who it makes us, and so we avoid talking about it. We ignore the pain until it is only ours, until we have nobody to share it with.

Isolation and unproductive days lead to a pervasive sadness and numbness. Confidence, connection, productivity, and happiness are all affected. But we can get out of this catch 22. We can learn to feel confident and productive again, we can learn to be happy again. In doing so, we stand a higher chance of regaining employment when we choose to do so. If we set habitual goals for ourselves, talk about our experiences, and recognise our struggles in others- then we can realise that unemployment is not a permanent state, but a piece of our life, which will soon change.

How have you dealt with the impact of unemployment?

Featured image: Jon Tyson via Unsplash.

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