3RD ISSUE GENERAL

Unemployment struggles

Sara Al-Mahbshi

This article is not scientific and does not explain the macroeconomics of unemployment. This is merely a heart-to-heart experience that I hope would help people struggling with unemployment or those who know unemployed people.

It is worth mentioning that half of the unemployed young people are suffering from serious mental health issues like, depression and anxiety. I am a fresh graduate. No wait! It has been two years, but hey, I am still fresh since I only started a full-time job last week.

It was when I heard my name during the graduation ceremony that I realized that I have to get a job! Isn’t that how life works? You study something you want, you graduate and then you get to work and change the world or at least try to? I right away applied to a couple of positions and tried my luck in the labour market. I either got rejected or was completely ignored which was not surprising, mama prepped me for that – but it was still disappointing since I am used to being busy, studying and working all the time, even during my summer vacations.

The professional adult life was not nice to me. Disappointment piled up and the feeling started to overwhelm me, so I decided to do anything but look for a job. Traveling seemed like a very great option! I had little money and the fact that I held a Yemeni passport limited my options, but I managed to travel within Egypt and Malaysia. Traveling changes a person and let them understand themselves and blah, blah, blah. Although a lot of that is a cliché, it is sometimes true. I did not travel to find myself or discover who I was though; I was escaping from unemployment and from all “adult responsibilities”, something that was not like me at all.

After nine dreadful months, a great woman helped me volunteer in UNICEF Sudan for seven months and oh boy how much I have missed working and being productive! Working in Sudan was quiet an experience, one that helped me grow both personally and professionally.

Soon enough, the seven months in UNICEF were over and I was back to being unemployed. I started to experience the same horrible feelings: sadness, agony, shame, laziness and weirdly enough I felt imprisoned. So I decided to travel, AGAIN. But no, this time I was not to escape the nightmare of being unemployed. I will face this fear; I will deal with this. And I did. For eleven long months, I was unemployed and I was able to overcome it by joining the gym, learning French, watching shows, learning
photography, going on photography trips, looking for a university to pursue my MA, mastering my cooking skills, taking a couple of online classes, and lot of reading. I felt productive again. I was learning and
working in an unconventional way. I have allowed myself two main things. The first was to let unpleasant feelings in; because despite cultural constrains that pressure us not to cry and not to feel sad, these feelings are healthy as long as you stop them from consuming you. The second is to allow this particular experience to change and educate me.

So, here are few tips on how to understand and overcome unemployment.

ONE Tell everyone that you are unemployed. It is not something to be ashamed of and it is NOT your fault. People are always helpful, and telling those around you that you are looking for a job will help keep you in their minds. While we are at it, talk about your experience; say something that you are good at; explain how unique you are. This will help people to always remember you. As a matter of fact, the job I work at now is because of a dear friend’s suggestion.

TWO Make an “Unemployment Plan” and schedule your day. An unemployment plan mainly means planning your finances so that you know where you are standing and what needs to be done and why. I
unfortunately did not do that and I woke up one day to find that I was 100% dependent on my family. Also, you have 24 hours of your life every day and when you have nothing to do; those days need to be planned. There are important things that have to be on your daily calendar: looking and applying for jobs, exercising, socializing and network, and reading. These four key points will help you open up to different opportunities and most importantly will help you learn more.

THREE Take care of yourself. It is okay to be sad, disappointed and shocked. However, do not let these feelings feed on you. What matters more than your job is your health and well-being. Eat healthy, indulge into your spiritual and philosophical needs, do hair and face masks…etc. Pamper yourself. Writing helped me greatly in understanding what I was going through and it was cathartic.

FOUR The “Worldwide Web”. Go on Google and type in your experience and look for the jobs the worldwide market offers according to your expertise. Also, ask yourself if you need a degree at this point, you can now learn anything via online classes. Although I am a political science student, I studied nutrition and psychology. It was very beneficial and informative.

FIVE Volunteer. This is a chance for you to help offer something as well as build new skills and expertise. Volunteering is also a great chance for you to socialize. You are free now, and the time you have today might not be there tomorrow.

You are not responsible for changing the world. You can try and you can change what your passion is motivating you to do. Life does not come with a manual that says you graduate and then you find a job; this is the capitalist interpretation of life that we have to abide by. I know at some point I will be unemployed again, but I will not be ashamed of it. I will face it and I will know how and where to put my efforts and spend my time. It is crucial to mention that I was lucky enough to have minimal or almost no
financial responsibilities at all and so the feelings of disappointment and sadness were not as deafening as for those who have great responsibilities or difficult life situations. Either way, I hope this article can help. If not, reach out and ask for help. Hiding away from feelings that are eating you away is not courageous, asking for help and solutions is. Let this be the changing experience.

2 comments on “Unemployment struggles

  1. Very true and relatable. I will share this on my LinknedIn for a wider audience. Thank you Sara.. time to get on LinkedIn yourself. Best of luck!

  2. This is all so relatable. Thank you for this honest and insightful post!

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