“I am unemployed and ashamed”

" I’m unemployed and ashamed".

Every other day I get to interact with NEETs (youths who are Not in Education, Employment or form of Training). The stories of their daily lives on how they get to cope with the unemployment burden on their shoulders often leaves me teary.

“Last year I was unemployed for five months. The worst time for me was when I got up in the morning. I was too embarrassed to go out. I felt like I was in a prison until five in the afternoon when I could leave my apartment. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was unemployed.” 

“I’m a new graduate from university. I have been looking for jobs since graduation and I even enlisted the assistance of an employment consultant.

However I’m also dealing with serious depressive episodes and bouts of anxiety that are crippling me. I can’t even step out of the house. And it’s even worse when I’m living in a toxic environment at home, where everyone is shaming for “sitting at home” when in reality I’m working full-time to apply and look for a job”.

“When I think about my unemployed status today, these are the things i know: that I may never find anyone willing to hire me, that with every passing day I get older and a little less employable and the majority of my intelligent, articulate and sometimes witty cover letters are not even being read. Or perhaps they’re not that witty after all”.

These are just some of what I get to listen to. Some youths get dressed up in the morning and leave their homes walk long distances to the city centre where they sit at city square or better still hang around the corridors of the busy markets and arcades all day until they can return home all because they don’t want anyone to know that they are unemployed.

I imagine the loss of faith in oneself and the growing belief that the ongoing rejections from several job interviews that the job hunters are facing are never going to turn around. Having walked down that path I can 101% relate.

The stigma attached to unemployment can be dangerous. We should all think before we judge people who are struggling to find work.

But isn’t unemployment a normal condition in our economy? If there are millions of people unemployed at any one time, isn’t it part of our economic system?

Well knowing the answers to those questions by heart does not take away the stigma that comes with unemployment. It’s an unfortunate part, but also simply a reality. Being unemployed is not the same thing as committing a felony. It’s a difficult time, it’s hard to cope, but it’s seldom something anyone intentionally wants. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world of permanent, life-long jobs. We live in a fluid world. Jobs change, markets change, the job pool is “elastic.” Jobs disappear and jobs are created. Thus it would only be right if we normalised unemployment.

If you are unemployed and fearing to tell people so, then you might be missing the chance to get a job for the more social contacts that you have, the easier it is to get a job and if you are like the lad who stays indoors, you are not getting out meeting people, doing things, feeling normal. You are imprisoning yourself. Don’t assume that everyone is a critic

Having walked down that path got to know that Locking yourself in your own prison and feeling ashamed about a normal but difficult part of life only undermines your opportunity to take back your life, recognize that being unemployed is simply a current situation to deal with ,not a character failing and that talking to people can help you realize that some people might actually be on your side.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Unemployment is a normal part of life for millions of decent people.
  • Being unemployed is not a crime or a moral failing.
  • Feeling ashamed of economic conditions is like blaming yourself for the economy. You didn’t cause it, you don’t control it. Bad things happen to good people during difficult times.
  • For every employee, they dread the possibility of getting laid off or fired from their job at every moment.
  • It is possible you had a job, but recently moved to one that won’t start for a couple of months. Reasons for unemployment can vary.
  • What you need to make sure is that your resume is properly updated and you are putting yourself out there to be found: whether it is registering with job agencies or staying current on your LinkedIn profile.
  • If you are unemployed, do not be afraid to reach out to others. Your contacts may help you find the right job and even provide you with the reference you may need. Avoiding your friends would only restrict you from getting by your unemployment spell.
  • One great way to stay in contact is through LinkedIn where you are able to link up with your old colleagues and classmates.
  • Do not immediately think people will reject you for your situation. You may be surprised to hear them speak about their own experience when they were also jobless. They may even help you out with your problems if they know you need help.
  • Know the reasons why you are unemployed and look into the solutions you can do to remedy it.
  • Are you lacking the right skills for your position? If that is a yes, upgrade your skills by taking extra courses or going back to school.
  • Was your employer too strict or your co-workers unbearable to work with? Switch to a new company.
  • Unemployment is a part of life a lot of people have to face. It isn’t something that happens to a select few. When you find yourself unemployed, do not treat it as the end of the world. Speak to other people and upgrade your skills if necessary. It may take time for you to find a new job, but with a little effort, you will be able to get past this phase.

Once you do, use it as an inspiration to work hard and help you keep your job for a long period of time. Stay positivity and stay strong. There is always a good reason why you are still unemployed; that reason may be that the opportunity hasn’t turned up yet.

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