The last couple of weeks have been very busy.
On my journey in unemployment, I have been asked to participate by the Commonwealth of MA in all of the services available unemployed people. This meant that last week I was required to attend a career services seminar, and then I was randomly selected to become part of a mentorship program with a career services coach. Another requirement.
In between, there’s been prepping for midterms at the college, then grading those midterms (yet to do), trying to get our home ready for my dog returning to me, and filling my days with a combination of self-care, job searching, and puppy love.
This Saturday I will embark in a 12-hour round-trip down to Pennsylvania pick up my dog from my dad and my brother. They are taking the lion’s share of the drive and are traveling 15 hours up from Georgia to meet me partway. I owe a lot to them.
Anticipating this drive, I feel tired already. I’ve been walking between 2 1/2 to 3 hours a day for the last two weeks-I didn’t realize how much that would wear me out. It’s a good tired, but I have little capacity at the end of the day for thinking about grading papers, preparing lessons or contacting students. I need to figure out the balance.
There have been quite a few blessings in the past couple of weeks. I was able to get together with a former supervisor and have a very good conversation. A colleague whom I respect deeply reached out to me to support my networking and job placement. She offered everything from dinner, to introducing me to some high-ups in fundraising, to being a reference. And then, I got an interview… and then a second one. I love the organization and I’m hopeful. But, as my dad reminded me today, “Don’t get too excited before you know the reality. It’s better to celebrate than commiserate.” He says this after many years in for-profit manufacturing management and having seen many companies close down, lay-off too many employees, and has witnessed the struggles that come afterwards with unemployment. I respect his commentary. Still, I’m quietly hoping.
And the reality is that I still came home today unemployed-well, partially employed as anAdjunct Professor. The reality is that I am struggling to pay my bills. The reality is is that I need full-time work and I want it in my area of expertise. The reality is that I believe in social justice and working in nonprofit organizations, and I’m ready to take on the mantle again. The reality is that I need a challenge. And for right now, the challenge is getting a job, continuing to learn about myself, and making ends meet in the meantime.
And so on that note, I should say that, in reality, unemployment has been a blessing so far. It has opened up time for me to get to know myself, my needs, and begin connecting with my dreams and desires. I’m still nowhere close to being done with that process. I doubt we ever are. Unemployment has given me a time to sit back and rest, and to remember that it is important to build in balance and self as a priority. Unemployment has reminded me that I get to ask for help as much as I offer it, and that asking is not a sign of weakness. It’s reminded me how lucky I am to have supportive friends and family. And yet, it’s still exhausting- still busy.
So today I’m taking time to remind myself about the reality of unemployment, the reality of not celebrating too early, and the reality of the blessings in all of that.