Six months ago I was fired from my first “adult job” (worldly defined by: competitive salary, health, dental, 401K, vacation) because, simply put, I didn’t solve problems the way the company envisioned doing profitable business. And, from a business perspective, that’s fair. Shitty, but fair. There’s also six months worth of discussion, drinking and meltdowns to justify this injustice. I didn’t leave on a bad note and still have friends from my previous place of employment – just no job.
Since then, along with unemployment checks that leave me in a weekly self-deprecating state, I’ve collected advice and feebly tried to apply it to my life. Currently it’s just a conglomerate that helps some days. Other a stupid list isn’t going to help, that’s why we have pizza, friends, booze, candy, ice cream, Netflix, etc.
1. Feeling Shitty about Yourself aka The Post-Funeral Complex
For whatever reason, I’ve been to a lot of funerals. I’ve watched the canned condolences and a receiving line grimly nod and shake hands. But after leaving the line I’d always continue on…to the mall, to Target, somewhere. Only more recently did I experience returning to a house that felt empty even though it was laden with casseroles and KFC buckets. The sympathy cards stopped, a grocery run was finally needed, and the season changed only to confirm that others have moved on. But I hadn’t. A major part of life was missing and no one seemed to notice it was only temporarily filled.
That’s the best way I can explain losing a job to those who have been fortunate enough to have never experienced it. At first people offer their respective thoughts: “They’re crazy for it!” “Who needs them” “You’re so lucky, you can chase your dreams” “I’m sorry” “Anything you need, I’m here” “Let’s go get a drunk” – Those fizzle out after about two weeks when something else has occupied their thoughts and time. But you’re still stuck – jobless and letting reality finally sink in while no one seems to be there. And it fucking sucks.
Realize this trend, whichever side of the situation you find yourself. Getting back into a routine is natural and healthy, but don’t forget about those who are finally coming to terms with their respective situation. And when you happen to be thinking about a person, send them a quick message. I’ve tried to start doing this because I’ve had it done for me — it can really make a day.
2. Push Forward aka The Millennial Debate and Discussion is Getting Annoying
I’m not sure if too many people told me to follow my dreams or not enough people told me they were impossible, but I know this philosophy of chasing dreams has left me at a stalemate. Every other Pintrest motivational quote and Fast Company article encourages a pursuit of passions. While the opposite end of the spectrum gripes about entitled dreamers who don’t know how to work for anything. The reality and solution is probably something in between, but the voices are loud and contradicting so no headway ever seems to be established.
My cynic perspective: If we all crash and burn like many feel they are — it’s going to be one shitty situation. But we all read Hatchet in school and have watched enough Netflix/Hulu so we can probably use that knowledge to survive if it all goes to hell. Or at least realize we’re really suited for the barter system vs paychecks and just do what we’re good at to offset our debts.
3. Hope and rejection aka The Spin Cycle
My resume has been validated on a clean design and quirky content by a variety of people. Yay validation! I still don’t have a job.
I’ve had some great days where I knew I was going to nail an interview with my pseudo-qualifications and limited experience. I’d get excited and tell people about how confident I felt and this was the one. Then “I’m sorry, we’re looking for someone with a little more experience” call would follow. Or, the best interview I’ve had where the opening line was “I don’ t think you’re qualified, but you seemed like an interesting person so I wanted to meet you.” Thanks?
Generally the daily cycle goes something like:
- Someone looked at my LinkedIn! +2
- Generic rejection email from 2 weeks ago. -7
- Brief phone chat to set up an interview! +11
- Checking “have not been tested positive for drugs” on an unemployment form. -13
- Finding an awesome happy hour to commiserate! + 20
- Reading all the requirements for $600 for a nightly rub down on craigslist -19
I hear once you get out of this cycle you just end up in another one. But, seriously, I’d like to think a life where Craigslist doesn’t spur hope and depression is better.
4. Advice aka An Abstract Retelling of Life Experiences That May or May Not Relate and May or May Not Make You Feel Worse About Yourself
I’ve gotten advice from those I graduated with to those who are well into their 90’s. They all have a different experience– everyone does. I’ve found people talk about death a lot. Or other ailments like dialysis every 5 hours. Or constant constipation. Or, more common, recalling when they were in your shoes, too. Sometimes it makes me feel shitty for complaining, which usually leads to confused frustration.
I’ve also found that the older advice givers are, the less they are worried about your future. They seem to know it’ll work out. This reoccurring trend has baffled and annoyed me. Though, stepping back to a familiar statistical perspective, think of one year as a fraction of years lived.
1/25 vs 1/75 ….the smaller the fraction, the harder it is to pick out specifics. Think: the chance of pulling that one dirty sock out of a drawer.
Currently, there is less to draw on, so it all comes down to time and with more of it – fewer stinky socks compared to clean ones. So we’re left with time. And waiting to see what happens. Not exactly ideal for the impatient.
5. Communicate aka Communicate
It’s my father’s mantra. Communication is usually the solution and problem.
Old friends. New friends. Kinda-talked-to-you-in-a-bar-once-and-friended-you-while-I-was-drunk-but-now-that-we’re-friends-I-see-you-work-at-this-place-I-kinda-want-to-apply friends. Anyone. Just opening that line of communication is the starting point. And usually it’s up to you.
It’s talking life out and not doing something exceptionally crazy. It’s putting aside any semblance of an ego you have left and being able to send a thank you in the face of rejection and know it isn’t the end. It’s the pay it forward karma philosophy -there’s no real harm in helping someone when it’s not a great inconvenience to you. It’s what reminds us we’re humans in different places and just wanting to figure out a form of self-defined happiness in this wonky world.