Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Dole Rut

I'm about to complete my fifth month of unemployment. Thinking about it, i'm fairly certain that this was the first Summer Vacation in which i haven't worked (for a paycheck) consistently since sixth grade. And it has continued into October.

I've made a hell of a go at the whole staying productive thing. I've blogged; done band stuff; applied (and got accepted!) to write for a fairly well-known music site (no, i haven't written anything for them yet); and of course there's that whole job hunting thing. And it worked for the first four months. Every so often i managed to put together a piece of writing i was especially fond of, and of course, there was that whole two-week tour thing that went pretty well too.

But lately i've been an a serious emotional and motivational rut, one leading to hours of vapid television watching and Facebook browsing and less and less activity that could be construed as "constructive." I can feel the entropy taking hold as the "gap in my employment" that i have to explain on most job applications glacially expands over my fatigued, slipping-into-hibernation sense of self-esteem. My attempts to be productive on days when scary, lazy, self-defeating corners of my brain serve to remind me that i don't really have anywhere to be or anything to do are bring undone by the mental and emotional exhaustion of trying to assign myself busywork for the last five months and not really knowing that it's achieving any goal other than taking my mind off the fact that i'm currently contributing precious little to society while drawing a check from it every week.

Here's something all those armchair quarterback conservatives who think the unemployed just aren't "trying hard enough" to find work don't really understand--the longer a person remains unemployed, the more oppressive their situation becomes. Not only does that unemployment gap look more and more unappealing to prospective employers by the day, but the sense of personal defeat, of personal worthlessness, compounds daily, making the simple act of browsing Big Shoes Network or Milwaukeejobs.com a soul-sucking chore in and of itself, to say nothing of applying to another HR Department that likely won't respond.

I'm not writing this for pity, nor am i trolling for "you're not worthless!" comments--i'm just trying to illustrate how difficult this is on the mental constitution. I'd wager most people i've hung out with over the last few months have generally seen me put on a smile and keep a positive outlook, and overall, i've been able to cling to that. But little stuff is starting to pile up.

I owe my former roommate several hundred dollars in bills that i can't even begin to repay on a weekly unemployment check (not when a medical bill collector is already grabbing $100/mo. for the next two and a half months).

My car broke down in September and i don't have the money to get that fixed either. Sure, i'm using the band van to get around right now, and the band is fine with it, but i still feel like a leech.

And i suppose all the stress of worrying about my father for the last couple months hasn't really contributed in a positive sense.

I don't really have a solution for this, other than get over it and buckle down and keep on the job hunt. Baby steps are the order of the day, i suppose--one cover letter here, one blog post there, one new set of song lyrics here.

So i suppose this blog post, while not a glimmering slice of prose in the least, is at least a start.

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