Today marks three complete months of unemployment for me. The average, according to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics is 32.8 weeks. I am only on week 13. Unemployment insurance will only last six months, or 26 weeks. This indicates that unemployment insurance may run out while I seek out gainful employment. However daunting that this may seem, I still have two prospects in the air at the moment and I am awaiting call backs on whether I am a good fit for the second round of interviews or not.
At this point, I am still working to get what is owed to me by the DC office of unemployment because they need to verify how many weeks I was paid severance by United Cerebral Palsy. Needless to say, the old adage that you should save up at least six months for any given situation where you might be out of work is an understatement and it should be six weeks longer than that time frame.
Like many others, I am finding it difficult to get ahead in life. Each time that I feel that my family and I are making some progress (e.g. paying off my credit card for the first time since college as an undergraduate; still working on the Mrs. cards, however), we are dealt a set back.
My period of unemployment may be the greatest set back that we have ever had to endure as a family. Previously, any time that I spent out of work was minimal and less than a week to four weeks. Further, there is a social pressure for me to protect the family financially. If I cannot protect or at least contribute to the family financially, what more can I provide for our family? I would like to emphasize, however, that I am not seeking to diminish the fact that I am a father. I can provide care for our daughter and perform the duties of a domestic engineer. These activities are not beneath me and I am happy to perform them, but, when we make a choice to seek gainful employment, something fulfilling to the soul (not that domestic engineer activities aren’t) and something that provides and contributes to the well being of the family unit, that is a conscious choice that must be pursued. I am not making the choice to stay home. If I were, this period of unemployment would not be something where I would make a point to be concerned about its affects. Psychologically, this period is trying for my family and I.
We all face some form of adversity in our lives. It is something that shapes us, builds character and makes us better for having endured the insufferable. This experience has shed light on many things and given perspective to both my family and I. Certain things, previously thought of as important, are not that important (e.g. keeping up with the Jones’). What is important is that we are happy, healthy and resiliant. We will not let this beat us. We are getting through this together.
Sometimes we seek out assurance from great thinkers of the past to put current circumstances into perspective. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote, “How sublime a thing it is to suffer and be strong.” Abagail Adams wrote along the same vein, “It is not in the still calm of life, or the response to a pacific situation, that great characters are formed… Great necessities call out great virtues.”
It is the process that we must all appreciate and accept as our trial by fire. Something that we must pass through to find a new sense of self on the other side. We cannot go around or find a way to cheat our way through the experience. It is something that we must all endure. It is what makes us human and something that we share as a part of the human condition. As difficult as the situation currently is, it is something that will shape me to find commonalities and a level of understanding with my fellow man. This is something that I will carry with me all the days of my life.
As difficult as the current situation may be for me, it is something that I openly embrace. We will get through this. We will see days of prosperity in our future. We must have hope and we will find that a happy ending is just around the corner.