Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Surviving Unemployment

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The end of June marks the one year anniversary of the Dews leaving DC and the start of our summer of unemployment.  A little background for any new readers out there:  Daniel graduated from law school in May 2012 and began working at The Heritage Foundation in June 2012 as a visiting legal fellow, a position that we knew was only a one year temporary job .  He took it in hopes of it leading to another job in DC, or another job period.

Well June 2013 rolled around, and although we thought we had another job lined up working for another conservative non-profit company in Texas, we found ourselves jobless, homeless, and hopeless.  And thus our adventure with unemployment had begun.  An adventure I do not wish to repeat again in my life EVER, but an adventure nonetheless that I definitely learned a lot from.  I was in a tough position, not being the one looking for work, but not working (for money anyway) myself it became hard to know my place in the great job hunt.  It's been a year now, but I still look back on this time as a time of learning and growing in my life.  Here are a few things that I learned about survival as a stay at home wife of an unemployed lawyer:

1.  Do not, I repeat DO NOT look at unemployment boards, blog posts of unemployed people, or unemployment statistics.  I made this mistake.  And you know what it did to me?  It made me panic.  It does not help to know just how many other people are gunning for the same finite number of jobs as your husband.  And reading so-and-so's sob story blog about how he's been unemployed for a year and a half, is living with his mother, only eating Chinese take out, scouring the job boards all day, and hasn't seen the sun in 6 months will not make you feel better.  Just stay away, it will help to keep your spirits and hopes high.

2.  Do not nag This is hard for me because I always want to help and I always want to know what's going on.  I had to accept that Daniel was doing all that he could without me butting in.  Me asking if he had heard back about that job he applied for, or asking if he had tried looking at this website or applying for that job was not helping.  In fact, it was probably going to make things worse.  Nobody likes to talk about not getting an interview or to be told that they should be doing more to get a job when they are already doing all they can.  The best thing to do is just keep your mouth shut about it and wait for him to offer up any information on any potential leads.  Then be as supportive as you can and try not to push for details.

3.  Keep busy  This will help you with the not nagging part.  Your husband is already thinking about finding a job and being unemployed all day, you don't need to think about it too.  So find something to do.  I went and stayed with my family for a month, then I really took up crafting for a while, I tried to plan things for us to do as a family that we could look forward to, anything I could do to take up time and keep my mind off of things.  If you are thinking about it and dwelling on it all day it will only make you miserable.

4.  Celebrate EVERY SINGLE POSSIBLE lead  I think the only thing that kept us going was that we had enough glimmers of hope along the way to help us see that there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  For every single interview, call back, new contact, meeting, even a new job that sounded promising we would get really excited.  I felt like was enough to get us to the next bright spot, because we really soaked up every positive thing that happened to us.  Although none of these things ended up panning out, I believe they were put in our path to keep our spirits high enough to continue on.

5.  Believe in your spouse  At the end of the day, I always knew Daniel was going to find a job.  I knew he was absolutely qualified and that someone would see that.  I knew he was smart, driven, determined, and had everything he needed to be successful.  I knew that his employment status was no reflection on his intellect or value as a husband, father, and provider.  I knew all of these things, and it was my job to reassure him of this every single day.  It is a very trying time for the man of the house to not be able to do the one thing that he feels like is his job to do.  It is soul crushing, and he feels like no one believes in him or sees his worth.  That's where you come in.  You are the one who believes in him, you are the one who loves him unconditionally.  You are the one who knows how great he is.  The more you tell him this and make him see it, the more confidence he will have in his search, and the easier it will be for everyone.

6.  Do Not Give Up Hope  Believe that the job will come, and it will.  In God's timing, but I testify that it will.  Even when things seems hopeless, do not give in, do not give up.  God will bless your family as he has mine.  Things will work out.  At the end of the day, you just have to believe that and hold on to that hope until your goals are realized.

I still pray every night to this day for the families of those who are un/under-employed.  It is a terrible spot to be in, requiring every ounce of patience, faith, and grit you've got.  I also pray for the leaders of our country to pass any and all pro-job legislation.  It is plaguing our society and hurting families.  I pray that those looking for jobs will find them and that there will be jobs to find.  I hope that someday me and my family can be part of the solution of providing jobs for anyone who is willing to work hard and play fair.  

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