This is a rant from one of our 99ers. Many of our 99ers feel the exact same way.
It hit me today. I’ve been unemployed for 3 months shy of four years. I have a college degree that has taught me a lot, but the last nearly four years deserve their own degree.
Here is a simple fact that hit me today. Unemployment is not something to be ashamed of, in fact it is something to be proud of in its own twisted way. We are a class of people who have been abandoned by the system that we were all taught would always be there for us. We have struggled. Some of us have had families and friends help us out, others managed to string together little money infusions, or are still living off our savings. Others fondly remember the days of savings, bank accounts, and looking at a five dollar coffee and knowing if we wanted it, it was ours.
Why do I say I am proud? Because despite all of the crap, the shunning of the professional world, and the golden moments of hope that show up only to be crushed by the next inane scandal, I have survived. I have developed as a person, and grown. I am happier with the person I am today then I was four years ago. I have grown more compassionate, more hopeful, and for some reason, a belief in the human ability to do good as started to thrive.
I’ve learned to listen, to think, and to be myself. I have learned to spot the ‘fakers’ out there, and I have learned to see real opportunity, and know the difference between an activity that will help me pay the next bill, and the activity that will shape my life to come.
Most importantly, I have learned that the only person I need to impress is myself. I live my life, only concerned that I like who I am. If someone does not like me for who I am, that is fine. Changing for them in the past has not worked because most people see what they don’t like about themselves, not you.
Most importantly, I’ve learned patience, and optimism. I think that is the last final hurtle us long term unemployed are faced with. Optimism. It is the hardest for us to visualize, because our life is a life of loss. What we could do, could afford, a month ago, a year ago, are now today, out of reach, and we know the things we can do today, a month from now will be untenable. However, once you push beyond this, once you see the day for what it is, then you only have to apply everything you learned before.
You have to face the beast in order to see it is just an illusion. It is not about hard work, if that were true, most of us would not be in this situation. It is about belief, and faith, in yourself. It is about deciding everything is going to be ok, and not accepting anything less.
It is about no longer compromising your prosperity to please the stares of people you’ll never know. It is about ignoring the ‘advice’ that we get shoveled at us daily.
It is about not knowing where we will be ten years from know, but knowing where we are now, and knowing the direction we are going now. That revelation is life altering, and once you accept it, the darkness fades, and the road is laid out before you. There will always be storms ahead, and there will be low points, but there is also sun out there, bright glorious light, and there are high points to enjoy the sun from.
The sun set for me four years ago, and it has been a long night, but dawn is coming. With this dawn comes a new day, new hope, and a pride in myself I have not known before.
I am proud of my ability to survive, and I am proud of the journey I have been on, and I have faith in myself that I will move forward to success and happiness. No one can take that from me, and I will achieve no matter what.