Here’s the breakdown:
Jobs I Applied For: 172
Rejection notices: 80
AA Meetings I attended: 61
Coffee networking dates: 55
Lunch networking dates: 39
Days I spent at coffee shops – just to get out of the house: 37
Mornings I woke up physically sick to my stomach: 30
Weeks of unemployment income: 24
Stress weight gained: 22lbs
Days the temperature went below zero: 13
Arbitrary trips I took out of town even though I couldn’t afford them: 11
Days I spent in Mexico trying to clear my brain: 9
Days I spent in Mexico stressing about being unemployed: 9
Buddhist meditation classes: 8
Weeks I spent nursing my wounds in my hometown of Des Moines: 7
Times I updated/modified/reinvented my resumé: 6
Times I called my 104-year old father in hysterics: 5
Times my 104-year old father talked me off the ledge: 5
Times I updated my LinkedIn: 4
Headhunters I had working with me: 3
Recruiters I had working with me: 2
Panic attacks that had me hospitalized: 1
Note the last two numbers, folks. In a word … things were bleak. No – it had actually graduated beyond bleak. Not to be dramatic, but I think the word I’m looking for here is dire. It’s no wonder I got so sickeningly stressed out. I have a phenomenal work ethic – always have. And when I was gainfully unemployed, I nearly lost my mind.
I tried yoga. I volunteered. I prayed more than I’ve prayed in my entire life. Nothing helped remedy the sinking pit of despair that was forever holding my stomach hostage. My happy-go-lucky attitude soured – except on social media, of course. Thank God I have good friends who would offer sage advice or allow me to vent (read that: emotionally vomit on them). Case in point: for two months straight – I would dutifully call my friend Lyra at 7:30 every weekday morning while she was putting on her face and getting dressed for work. That 20-minute conversation would somehow take my mind off the fact I wasn’t going to work… nor did I have anything of merit to do that day. Those phone calls were a lifesaver. Mindless lifesavers.
When I got laid off – on December 22nd, mind you – it threw me for a loop that quickly went in to a severe downward spiral. I circled the drain for two solid months. I can’t even tell you what transpired in the months of January or February because I was such a sad sack. Thank God I didn’t get offered a job then. I was not an ideal candidate for anyone. Hell, I wasn’t even an ideal living, breathing human.
Now – looking back – I realize things were at Defcon 4 instead of Defcon 1. When you’re in a constant state of worrying and/or dread, you’re incapable of anything else. Well … at least … that was the case for me.
Get this — every professional job I’ve ever landed in my adult life was because the company came after me. I’ve had zilcho luck applying for jobs. My new gig that I start Monday is no different. After seven months of languishing in unemployment hell, I got a phone call. I had an offer less than 24 hours after my interview. Things can change that quick. I slept like a rock for the first time in a long time on Friday night knowing I was soon to be a productive member of society again.
Of course, what was the first question I asked before I accepted the job? “Hey – how much vacation do I get?”