Unemployment is terrible. I’m not currently unemployed, but I have been in the past and it’s quite possible I will be again soon. You feel worthless, you have no money, and you question everything. It’s truly depressing and unless you have experienced it for a while it’s hard to relate to it. Thankfully, Gawker had recently given people a sounding board for some of these stories, a way to commiserate with the others suffering through the hardships. Some might argue that the loneliness is the worst, others say the inability to get proper health care, and some just despise the everyday sacrifices you have to make without having accessible cash. They’re all wrong. The worst part of being unemployed is the phrase “Shouldn’t you be looking for a job?”
Anyone out of work will spend so much time looking for a job that it’s like having full time job, only you get paid half salary and feel defeated at the end of each and every day. (Don’t say “That’s like my job!”) Some mornings this gets to you and instead of hopelessly searching the internet, you spend 8 hours watching The Wire. Do not casually mention this to your girlfriend unless you are yearning for a passive aggressive “Shouldn’t you be looking for a job?” And it’s fair, if you’re being supported by your significant other, telling someone who just stressed out for 8 hours at the office that you spent your entire day whistling with Omar, well, then, you are kinda asking for it. Even worst is speaking with your parents. Try going out to dinner with your parents (and parents love these pity meals) when you’re unemployed. They’re going to ask what you’ve been up to, and after 20 minutes of depressing them and yourself with all the dead-end jobs that you applied to (and were rejected from), you inevitably bring up that vacation you had planned 3 months before you got laid off and are now going on. “10 days in San Diego, huh? Shouldn’t you be looking for a job?”
Really anyone can use it, at any time. What a trump card. Your friend offers you some cash to help them move, but you have plans to go to a concert: “Shouldn’t you be looking for a job?” Your dad wants you to drive him to the airport, but you hesitate because it’s a 5am departure, “Yeah, don’t worry, you should probably be home looking for a job anyway.” And they’re not entirely wrong, but they don’t have to be dicks about it. You can only spend so many hours applying for jobs in any given week before you run out of jobs to apply to and you run out of self-esteem. You need to take reprieves, even if for only a day or two (working folk call these “weekends”). But you better keep that day or two to yourself. Because your financially strained partners, disappointed family members, Republican taxpayers, and anyone else who witnessed your Facebook activity has a question ready for you. “Hey, he looks more tanned than I remember, what is he doing spending so much time outside, he really should be…..”
If you’re self-aware and self-loathing like me, you don’t leave the question for others to either speculate and/or throw in your face, you question yourself about everything you do under the principles of “Shouldn’t I be looking for a job?” How can you enjoy anything when the voice in the back of your head tells you finding work is all that matters? Marathoning TV shows, playing Xbox, and screwing around on the internet (or watching people screw around on the internet), those are easy reasons to feel shame when you should be job hunting. But the job question persists in your brain non-stop. You become afraid to leave the house without your laptop. Going to the gym? Hope you don’t get dizzy jogging and writing covers letters at the same time. Going on a date is boatloads of fun when you’re unemployed I imagine. Nothing says love and attentiveness like checking your phone every 30 seconds. What do you mean their HR Department won’t be calling me at 9pm on a Saturday night? How do you know that?! Don’t you know I should be looking for a job?!!
It’s tiring knowing that you’re a failure, and knowing that everyone else thinks you’re a failure. It’s even worse when everyone else thinks you’re a lazy failure. A worthless slacker. A drain on society. So if you become unemployed, you have two options. One: get a new job. And when option one doesn’t work after a couple weeks: lie. “No, I didn’t catch the premiere of Breaking Bad. You know, I haven’t even watched TV in months”. “No, I haven’t tried that new restaurant yet; I’ve been staying in a lot, trying to save some money.” “Does it look like I got some color? Must have been when I was volunteering building houses for those orphans”. Say anything, do anything. Just don’t let yourself or anyone else destroy you with that one evil question.