What does unemployment feel like? It feels like the minutes, the hours, the days dragging by and pulling you along with it. It feels like failure — which comes as an unwelcome surprise for those of us whose academic lives were blessedly carefree. It feels like watching sitcoms back-to-back until an episode of Friends happens to touch on money/employment and it makes you feel too crap to watch Joey saunter into a coffee shop job like he didn’t need the money. Money. Most of all, it feels like a sinking feeling in your stomach, a racing heart when you consider your overdraft and a nagging itch in your mind that THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT.
It feels like parental judgement,
even when especially when they say, of course, they’re not disappointed. It feels like no restaurant trips, no spontaneity, no new clothes, no haircuts, no “because I’m worth it” moments in the aisle of Boots.
It feels like all this, every, single, day.
It feels like waiting around to hear back from job interviews, it feels like putting your life on hold for fear (?) of a prospective employer ringing you up to ask you to come in for a chat. It feels like you no longer have control of your life.
It feels like worries, anxiety and putting on a brave face because other people have it worse — I know that. I have food, water, clothing, shelter. Just a sore lack of self-esteem. I even have a summer in America coming up (with a job! with horses! with sun!), but it’s hard to focus on the positives when the lingering fear of “you have no money, you shouldn’t be doing this, how dare you think you deserve this, you have no money, you’re in your overdraft, you need to be working on a career, what are you doing” is always there.
It feels very much like the black dog people call Depression. It feels like any moment I could collapse into a pool of tears and snot and self-loathing. It feels like the tiniest hairline crack of a fracture could break me. It feels shitty. It feels privileged. It feels self-indulgent. It feels wrong.