Monday 27 June 2011

Notes from an Unemployed Twenty-Something

I recently got fired. Not from E14, of course, because I probably wouldn’t agree to write an article for someone who fired me. I got fired from my “real” job; the one I do during the day, for money. The boring one, basically. Now that we’ve established which job I’m talking about, I’m going to tell you a little bit about how I’m coping since I got the dreaded “sack”.

Well, being unemployed sucks. It’s not the “glorified couch potato, do what you want, don’t have to answer to anybody” life style that seems so appealing to our generation. It has, in fact, been the most soul destroying experience of my young life to date. There really isn’t anything positive to be said for being unemployed, and here is why:

1: You Are Now on the Lower Rung of Society, and People Really Like to Remind You

The human race really does have “being judgemental” down to an art. I have a friend who is on the dole. A day doesn’t go by without someone ripping it out of him for not working. No-one stops to consider the fact that it is almost impossible to find stable employment these days. I have discovered that people who have jobs love to pass judgement on those that can’t get jobs. I can’t have a conversation with anyone without them asking the details of my current employment status. When I tell them I still haven’t found a new job, they either change the subject, or say in a nice patronising tone “oh, that’s a shame” or “you’ll get there.” You’d find less vague sentiments in a Hallmark card.

You also become a charity case. You honestly would not believe how many people have put money in my hand and told me to “keep believing” in myself, or something equally cheesy. I recently had to swallow my pride and ask my mum to help me with my £30 phone bill. She gave me £100. “You’ve always got to have money in your pocket, chick." she said. She’s your average over-protective Irish “Mammy” who rushes you to the hospital every time you get a runny nose. To her mind, without that money I would die. What if I got stranded and couldn’t afford a taxi? You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s genuinely making sure I have money for the muggers so they won’t kill me. I love my Mammy.

2: Everything Inevitably Becomes Boring and Pointless

The weekend I got fired I sat on front of my boyfriend’s Xbox 360 and made my conversion from “Xbox widow” to “cool gamer girlfriend.” I invested in some games, I set up my gamer profile, and I gamed. For several days. Without stopping. My brain almost exploded with the intensity of it, my eyes dried up and I suffered from many, many migraines. I literally couldn’t think about anything except Xbox. When I was away from the house, I wanted to bring it with me.

Preaching to the choir.

However, I exhausted my enthusiasm within two weeks of my new addiction.

I moved on, watching all my favourite movies in a frantic attempt to give myself something to do. Within a few days I thought to myself, if I watch another film I’m going to die. As a writer for a site that reviews movies, I can’t seem to watch any film without dissecting it and criticising it. What should have been a fun escape from reality turned into more work than I was doing when I had a job.

I have loads of hobbies, and I’m sure I’m not alone. You may be thinking that this won’t happen to you, and that you would kill to have all the time in the world to do the things you love, but I’m warning you now, once you have been unemployed for more than two weeks you will have exhausted all sources of entertainment available to you and will begin to spend hours each day either staring into space, or sleeping.

On that note...

3: Your Sleeping Pattern Gets Fucked

Your sleeping pattern becomes vampiric, and the sun starts to really piss you off. You subsequently become irritable. All your boyfriend has to do is say “Good morning, sweetheart” and you’ll have him apologising for calling you fat and jobless. I’ve even started getting annoyed at the normal people who have the audacity to talk to me about their jobs.

“I’m off to work, chick...”
“Fuck you!”

I stay up all night. When you don’t have a job, the socially accepted sleeping hours become null and void. Unless all your friends and family are on the other side of the world and big into the Skype movement, you’re probably going to spend these nights horribly alone and feeling miserable. And, let’s face it, there really is only so much porn you can watch before that, too, neglects to give you any source of comfort.

4: You Are No Longer Independent

Instead of seeing this situation as a blank canvas, and an opportunity for you to become more independent and motivated, you will gradually begin to depend on everybody else and expect them to pander to you. Like being ill, you feel like you deserve sympathy because you’ve lost your job. But there’s only so long you can only sit in your pyjamas, forcing your boyfriend make you cups of tea before he snaps and becomes an axe wielding maniac. I’m tempted by a “Here’s Omer” joke here, but it’s just too easy, and most of you probably don’t know Omer.

Oh, we know Omer...

People expect you to be available all the time, because, let’s face it, it’s not like you have a job. People really don’t have any faith in the idea that you might have plans and responsibilities outside of a work environment.

5: You Suck

You no longer have bragging rights about anything. You no longer have the upper hand in conversations. I used to be a carer. If anyone had a dilemma regarding medicine or care, they would ask me. If I said being disabled meant you could fly, people believed me, because “Well, she works in care; of course she knows.” But now, my opinion counts for squat. It will happen to you, too.

Instead of being conscientious with what little money you have left after losing your job, you will probably fall into the trap of spending more money than you did before. I made some very radical purchases with my last pay check, including piercings and hair appointments. Why? Simply because it cheered me up. I also went into “Panic Mode” and bought things I knew I would need in the future, like toiletries and canned goods. It looked like I was stocking up for some kind of apocalypse. I did wonder why people started copying me in the supermarket...

There is, of course, one positive to all this “getting fired” business. You have way more time to write articles for the best website in the world...

Words: Kelly Prior


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