• Gustavo Serbia

A Self-Centered Look at Being Unemployed

Updated: Jun 26


Being unemployed sucks. Period.

This is the second time I am unemployed since my late twenties. In 2008, like many others, I found myself unemployed. Here I am again. Having gone through it once before doesn’t make it any easier. The feelings of failure, of being damaged goods, and no longer relevant are the same. Even if these feelings are temporary, they are powerful and can pull anyone down, even in the best of days.

“You Are Not Alone” Doesn’t Make Me Feel Any Better

I would think that seeing so many other people unemployed would help with these feelings of inadequacy. It doesn’t. It doesn’t make me go, oh, I am not alone, so it is ok. This is because I am in a sort of survival mode, and although I see others in the same circumstances, I am looking for a way out, not to be one of them. This is self-centered, individualistic, and the truth.

Why Me? What Did I Do Wrong?

It has been a bit over two weeks since I lost my job. I have gone through the self-analysis process. I have been asking myself, why me? What did I do wrong? See, part of my personality and the way I think is to immediately go into self-awareness mode and a self-analysis process whenever things don’t work out. But not like a victim, instead is in a “what could I have done better to prevent this so I can improve” sort of way. People lose their jobs for many reasons. I group the various reasons into two main categories; what is “within my control” and was is “out of my control.” Which reasons fall into which category will depend on my circumstances and perspective, how I see life and myself.

I have come up with a few things I could have done better. I have played a few instances in my head that makes me question “was it this” or “was it that.” Was this within my control or not? Regardless of what I think, I ask myself, would the outcome have been different if I had done x, y, or z? At this point, who knows. I can debate this to no end. I can ask others for their thoughts and opinions, but that’s the problem, they are only opinions. At this stage, it is irrelevant to continue to ask why. The focus is no longer on why. I did that. I am now moving forward.

360-Degree Analysis

As I consider what to do next, I have taken a 360-degree view of my situation. My current state.

  • I have looked at my financial state; how long will the money last, what can I pay, what can I postpone, and what can I eliminate. I have contacted all creditors to explore options.

  • I have looked at my physical health; I am in overall good health, do I keep insurance or risk without it? What’s the lowest cost option I can get?

  • I have reviewed what my employment options are in my area (I am in Cleveland, Ohio). Do I need to relocate, and if yes, to where? In considering relocation, I have to consider the house I own. Do I need to sell it? Can I sell it? What do I need to repair to get it to market? How much should I or could I spend?

  • I have also thought about how to position myself in the employment market. What positions should I apply for? Should I take a step back? Will I need to take a pay cut? Are there any other careers I can pursue? Do I need to explore temporary jobs? Do I become a consultant? Should I drive for Uber to remain active?

  • I have looked at my resume, several times, and I have also read way too many opinions about the job search. But I have to; I don’t know it all, so I have to learn. I have checked my LinkedIn profile. Is it better? When will I be done?

  • Talking about learning, I have looked at what courses I can take. Should I go back to school? If I do, for what? What will that get me beyond satisfaction? Is it worth it? Can I afford it? What can I find that is free and relevant?

This is overwhelming. Manageable, but overwhelming.

The “I” Doesn’t Last Long

As I stated above, my approach has been self-centered. However, my circumstances and personality do not afford me to remain in this “I” position too long. To start, I have a family; I am married with two kids; one is entering college in the fall and one is starting high school. Part of the 360-degree analysis includes thinking about them

  • How does my wife feel about all of this?

  • Will I be able to help my daughter pay for college? Will she have to transfer?

  • Will I be able to afford to provide my son with classes outside of his normal school schedule?

  • What if we move, how will they feel?

This is a lot to absorb. Overwhelming, and not just for me. But manageable.

I also know I am not alone. Seeing so many people unemployed helps with the feeling of shame; it makes it much more tolerable. Also, knowing there are so many allows me to put things into perspective and to empathize at a higher level. Although I may be in survival mode, others are too. I find much more comfort in the “we” than the I for one main reason; the loneliness feeling is reduced tremendously. As I look into what I am going to do next, I find myself looking for ways to help myself, my family, and others. See, the fact that so many other people are on the same boat helps with gaining a sense of perspective. When I think of my network, I think of how many others are going through the same thing. Helping others is a requirement in this process. At least for me.

Moving Forward

In my next post, I will share my plan and how I am going about it. For now, in the spirit of pushing myself and helping those in the same situation know this:

  • You are not alone

  • You must have a plan

  • Don’t waste time thinking about what went wrong

  • Think of your family and friends

  • Build your network, not just asking for help, but helping others

Good luck!


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