real talk: the six phases of unemployment

I have been unemployed for exactly three weeks. I know what you’re thinking. All that free time! What a great chance to get out there and explore a new area! Or maybe you’re thinking, perhaps you should have had something lined up before you left your job. My biggest problem right now is that I care too much about what you’re thinking. It becomes evident very quickly how much we measure our self-worth on professional success, financial situations, and the competition of who can be the busiest (I’d like to just forfeit that one right now). In an effort to lighten up a little on the topic, I would like to share my insight on the six phases of unemployment.

Phase One – The Exhilaration Train I never have to do this ever again! In some cases it is pure exhilaration, and in other cases, like when you actually really liked your job, you’re celebrating only the annoying bits like that damn fax machine or the utter chaos that was the storage unit. But the excitement is still there. You’re going to do something amazing with your free time! Write a novel! Read a book series! Take a daily hike! Meditate for 4 hours a day! Watch the clouds! Pick wildflowers! Make tons of friends! The possibilities are endless. Whatever was holding you back at your last job, well shake off those cuffs, you’re free!

Phase Two – The Optimism and/or Overconfidence Blip – What if perhaps you get a job too quickly that you don’t get to enjoy your free time! What a bummer that would be. What if there are too many jobs to choose from? Perhaps a pro/con list would do the trick. [Note: This phase is very short due to the impending doom that is sure to come when you actually begin applying to jobs.]

Phase Three – The Occasional Glimmer of Hope – Let’s say you get an interview! You’re in, right? How many people could they possibly interview for this job that you know you are perfect for? That Loft dress + your skills will wow them for sure. Or perhaps someone reaches out to you and you didn’t even apply– it’s so happening! So what if I have to drive 40 minutes on the interstate! I’ll get books on tape!

Phase Four – The Dark Cloud of Defeat – After applying to what seems like hundreds of positions, of which you are qualified for and sometimes overqualified for, you begin getting the rejection emails– and continue to wait on others (for eternity–because let’s be honest, you won’t ever get a response). There are points when all you want to do is sit in your pajamas on the couch with you dog and cross your fingers for a rainy day so you don’t feel so lazy. Everyone wants to be in their pjs on the couch on a rainy day– that would be one point for you to have that luxury! [Note: It is also in this phase that you begin considering positions that require a high school diploma and positions that use the words entry level and hourly wage. *Disclaimer: I’m only saying with my experience, I’m qualified for more. It’s fine to be just starting out or not have a degree.]

Phase Five – The Phase When Your Husband Continually Tries to Build Your Confidence –  What a nice guy to tell me how skilled I am! But seriously what’s wrong with me? And also, let’s spend our Saturday night talking about my resume and have conversations about whether I’m pretty enough to be an escort. [Note: Not all examples actually took place and are used solely for the purpose of exaggeration.] [Note II (it’s like P.P.S. for you former pen pals out there!): Job seekers can flip flop between phases four and five, depending on whether you husband is in the room.]

Phase Six – The Acceptance of Your Current Situation Phase – You’re so over this, you’re writing blogs about your job search! You’re joking with anyone and everyone about the ridiculousness that is your mental state. Someone will hire you, even if it’s a year from now! You can survive on credit cards, right? It’s all in your best interest! (HA!) Or what if you meet someone at yoga who is looking to hire a marketing and communications professional? Get out there and let your story be heard! It’s called networking… I think. [Note: Even once phase six is reached, reverting back to prior phases is normal.]

As you can tell, the past three weeks here have been all smiles and rainbows, bunny rabbits and ponies painted in neon, just like the Lisa Frank folder I am using for interviews.

Perhaps that’s why I’m not getting jobs.

I’m realizing how much emphasis we put on our success and our paycheck, letting those be the factors that determine our happiness and our value. I am challenging myself to keep up (find) my positivity and power through this. Though I am still seeking that professional opportunity, and I would love more than anything to report how easy it has been, I know the right opportunity will come along. I might still hesitate every time I say that, but I’ve accepted my hesitation, along with my feelings of joy, overconfidence, hope, defeat, and success.


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