On Hope

5 Apr

I was hopeful (in January). It was the start of a new year and I figured that hiring would pick up after the holidays. And, a new year always brings a sense of refreshment and hope. I would wake up early and excited, optimistic that I would find the type of challenging, rewarding, and interesting position that I was seeking. I was optimistic that I would soon be back at work, using my skills, keeping my mind engaged and energized.

January turned into February, which led to March, and then crossed into April. With each passing month, it is kind of a shock to the system. It is a strange contradiction in that the days and weeks seem to creep along, yet the months have passed like a blur.

The maddening thing about unemployment is that you have so much freedom, but it is seemly impossible to enjoy, because of the pressure of being unemployed, and not knowing when it will end.

When I first left my job, I took some time off because I was financially prepared to do so, and I naively thought that as soon as I started looking for a job, I would easily find one. I was hopeful. Although I was nursing a broken heart, there were days that I was able to enjoy and appreciate a walk by the lake in the middle of the day, or reading my book at a coffee shop. But now as this job search process has dragged on, I find it difficult to enjoy these moments. I just want to be working, and I try to stay hopeful.

Sometimes when I am at the local coffee shop, I feel that I can tell who the other unemployed people are. They have kind of a stressed, glazed over look on their faces.  I know that look because it is one that I often wear. You wonder what you should do next, when it will end, and where you will land. You feel hope slipping away, yet you know that you can’t lose it, hope that is.

I think half of the battle of being unemployed is fighting the emotional impact of it. You have to fight to remain hopeful, become hardened to rejection, and shrug off the shame of being unemployed.  The other day I was reading the story of a woman who was unemployed and would leave all of the lights off in her house during the day because she didn’t want her neighbors to know that she was home, and unemployed. She was losing the battle to shame, and hope probably didn’t stand a chance either.

I understand her sense of shame, even though we have no reason to be ashamed. I still have a difficult time asking my contacts for help because I’ve never had to ask people for help like this before. I have never really been unemployed before. I have never had to dig so deep to be hopeful before.

As difficult as unemployment can be,  we have no choice other than to try to embrace each day, accept the uncertainty, stay motivated to continue the search, and remain hopeful,  knowing that it will end, and you will be ok. You are OK. Embrace hope and don’t let it slip away.

photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani via photopin cc

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16 Responses to “On Hope”

  1. Vishnu April 5, 2013 at 10:25 am #

    Keep hope alive Lisa:) You are in the moment of transition and going to move on to something greater than where you were at. This moment of unemployment may feel like you’re going backwards but you’re having time for self-development, inner reflection and growth. I’ve found moments of unemployment to be very uplifting and always came out ahead when I got back to work. Enjoy this period of non-work as you will cherish them when you do get back to work. You’ll be thinking to yourself, I should have enjoyed those days of unemployment more.

    Also, reach out to those around you and get thoughts, ideas on how to get back to that job you want. Including to those in your blogging community 🙂

    • Lisa M. April 6, 2013 at 9:17 am #

      Thanks Vishnu! I am trying to enjoy this time, but it is difficult some days. I appreciate your support and the way that you view this time as growth, rather than going backwards. I would love to hear your ideas on how to get the job, or create the job that I want:)

  2. Scott April 5, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    Truer words have never been spoken. About a month or so ago, I chose to stop looking for full-time employment and focus on building my own consulting business. I mean, I hit the brakes completely, put my “job search” folder aside, and made a promise to myself that if something came across my desk, then I would look into it, but otherwise, I was going to focus on just my business.

    When I made that choice, a burden lifted from my shoulders. I came to realize that I had been looking inside the same box from which I had come – traditional employment. Sure, there are still opportunities for traditional employment, but the job market is demanding more non-traditional work methods – contracting, temp, and virtual. Believe it or not, a week after making that choice something came up that would lead to virtual consulting. I’m waiting for final word now, but it’s something that I never would have thought of. And I found it on LinkedIn.

    People who are employed don’t understand that it’s not a vacation to be unemployed. The everyday anxiety takes its toll on both mental and physical health. And the only way you can make it through is by never losing hope. Sure, you have your down days, and when you do, just go with it. If you end up not doing anything that day, it’s ok. Let it be. It’s your brain’s way of saying “I need a break.”

    Thanks for the blog entry. And may you find something that calls to you soon!

    • Lisa M. April 6, 2013 at 9:25 am #

      Scott, thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. I hope that the virtual consulting opportunity works out for you. Can you share what type of consulting you will be doing? I really think that people can’t really understand what being unemployed for an extended period of time is like unless they have been through it, especially in this economy. I think part of my challenge has been that I feel torn between trying to find a traditional job (in a market that doesn’t favor that as you said), developing my own business, and getting additional education or training. It is difficult to know where to focus your efforts, and although I have been doing all three, I think splitting my time up in this way has not always been effective.

      • Kathy kessenich April 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

        Lisa: First of all, thank you for your blog. Every time I read it I feel like it could be me writing it because you really voice how I often feel. When I was first unemployed I started a blog on change being a journey. It was therapeutic but I haven’t kept it up. My experience has been similar in that I have felt torn between doing some consulting, some education to fill skill gaps and still trying to find a traditional job. Like Scott, I am finally trying to focus on building something of my own. I found a great opportunity with a wonderful group of women doing some independent marketing for a manufacturing company. I can make my own hours and my success depends on me. It is a little out of my comfort zone but it feels good to challenge myself to Try something different. And it gives me the opportunity to help other people by mentoring them to build their own business.

        The thing I try to remember is that who I am is not what I do though it can be hard to quiet all those voices that seem to say otherwise. And I do think that sometimes just picking a path, as Scott has done and I am trying to do can open things up. You can always change course later on if you want to.

        Good luck. I will keep reading. You have a great voice and I m sure you are helping a lot of people feel less alone on this journey. And who knows where that might lead.

      • Lisa M. April 8, 2013 at 8:04 am #

        Kathy, you made my day with your comment! Comments like this are exactly why I started this blog. Thank you for sharing what has worked for you. People going the route of the non-traditional job seems to be a common theme. I would love to hear more about what you are learning rom your indpendent marketing work. I think you and Scott are correct in that I am just going to have to pick a path and as you said, I can always change course later.

  3. Kelly April 5, 2013 at 1:34 pm #

    Very well stated – you have a lot of company. Hang in there!

  4. ricksamer66 April 5, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Sounds familiar. I am going through the same thing. I might even be one of those people at the coffee shop. . http://survivingtermination.wordpress.com/

    • Lisa M. April 6, 2013 at 9:31 am #

      Thanks for your comment Rick!

  5. Sharon April 7, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    Hi Lisa, what a beautiful post. I have been unemployed for the last 3 years…I got married and moved to another continent with my husband. Where I am, even though I have a law degree, I can’t get a job. And I’ve tried. So I decided to start an online business and I haven’t looked back. I’m earning as much as any paycheck would have given me. Like a previous commenter has said, this is a period of growth.

    I also want to add that you are a beautiful writer.

    • Lisa M. April 8, 2013 at 7:48 am #

      Thank you for your kind words Sharon. The job market is tough for attorney where I live also. It seems that a lot of people are going the route of starting their own business after having no luck in the job market. What type of online business did you start and what have you learned from starting a business?

  6. Rohit Sharma April 7, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    The basic essential elements of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for… It brings courage, perhaps you have gone through the story of Eddie Rickenbacker and his crew when their plane fell into the Pacific, there were 7 men in life rafts for twenty one days with nothing but water and sun for as far as the eye could see.They lived it…

    Hope is one common thing between you an me 🙂 so cheers…

    • Lisa M. April 8, 2013 at 7:49 am #

      Thanks for your comment Rohit!

  7. Jon Rhodes April 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Hi Lisa. You are a blogger and as long as you are putting energy into that and helping people in some way then you ARE contributing right now. Employment is certainly not the only way we can contribute to society. Being a good parent, supportive wife or husband, starting up a business, helping people, are all ways of contributing.

    I make a full-time living from the internet, but it did take time. People don’t always understand. My in-laws spent about a year complaining that I didn’t have a job, even though I was earning a full-time wage. If they had their way I would have gone back to full time employment and probably neglected my online businesses. They didn’t understand because I wasn’t “going out” to work. Luckily I ignored them and I continue to live the life I want. They now seem to have accepted this.

    So the moral is, have your own goals and dreams, and don’t let anyone influence these and have you following what it is that THEY want you to do.

    • Lisa M. April 8, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      Jon, thank you for your comment, and thanks for the reminder that employment is not the only way that we can contribute to society. Congrats on your success in developing your own business. I love hearing success stories about what others have done. Thank you!

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