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Why Unemployment Does Not Suck As Much As You Think It Does
Throughout my 14-year career in advertising, I have found myself unemployed twice. Once due to retrenchment. Most recently, due to a contract ending with a former employer, with no new opportunities in sight, at a particularly bad time in the job market.
It goes without saying that being unemployed SUCKS. A few words/thoughts come to mind to explain exactly how much it blows:
- SHAME (everyone else I know has their dream job. What am I doing wrong? How can I face people and tell them I’m UNEMPLOYED)?
- STRESS (How am I going to pay the bills this month)?
- ANXIETY (Am I EVER going to find a new job)?
- DEPRESSION (Why am I not good enough)?
- REJECTION (If I get one more rejection letter I don’t know what I’ll do)
- TOTAL LACK of confidence (Maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was)?
- IMPOSTER SYNDROME (have the past 14 years been one big stroke of ‘luck’)?
I was retrenched in 2015. It felt like my world was ending. I had worked hard. I had done a good job, hadn’t I? Why was I one of the ones that were let go? What did the others have, that I don’t? It was categorically the worst 3 months of my life (at the time) BUT, I landed up finding a new role, in a company that I LOVED, learning skills that I had never learned before. Retrenchment turned out to be the best thing to ever happen to me. It forced me out of my comfort zone and into one of the finest advertising agencies in South Africa, if not the world. Not only did I learn, from some of the smartest people I’ve ever met, I went on to win awards and I left with a new sense of confidence and an awesome set of lifelong friends.
I left that company at the end of 2017 to pursue ‘the freelancer life’, contracting to some of the biggest ad agencies and brands in the country. It was a TRIP! I learned hard and fast, worked my butt off and earned pretty decent money. Freelance life comes with its own set of highs, lows, pros and cons but that’s a whole other post in itself.
Enter 2019. The worst economic climate this country has seen in decades. I’ve been job hunting for FOUR MONTHS. I have submitted more job applications than I care to admit (it’s in the hundreds) and I have been rejected more times than any sane person should be able to handle. IT SUCKS.
Going into month 5 of my job hunt, I decided that I was so sick and tired of throwing my own pity party, day after day. I missed the optimistic, confident, fearless person I know myself to be. I was sick of all of the negativity and all of the rejection. So I changed my mindset. I put aside the SHAME, the IMPOSTER SYNDROME, the STRESS and ANXIETY and I started looking for new ways to put myself out there. I spoke to anyone and everyone I have ever worked with. I spent hours and hours a day on LinkedIn, putting myself out there, re-working my CV and getting in touch with industry experts for their advice. Four months of no work and it got to a point where I honestly didn’t know what to do anymore. A simple mindset shift, away from the doubts and the stress and into optimism, positivity and relentless pursuit of what I want, has now got me in a position where I am fielding offers from numerous INCREDIBLE companies and I will have to be the one to do the rejecting. I have connected with people far and wide and have been offered opportunities that had never even crossed my mind a few months ago.
I have met people that have inspired me. People so passionate about what they do that it has instilled new passion, vigour and faith in me.
There’s no denying that being unemployed sucks. It hurts. It has real consequences on our lives and on our families.
If you can find a way to see the positive in it. Stay open-minded. Stay connected. Stay resilient. Never stop fighting for what you want. Find new ways to connect with people. Put away the shame and put yourself out there day after day. Good things will come your way. Remember that rejections are never personal, competition out there is fierce and the qualities and qualifications you bring to the table may not be spot on for every company but they will be, for the right one.
I say this, because it has happened to me. My two spells of unemployment have bought with them some of the finest opportunities and incredible people into my life. And I know it will for you too.
For more from Cate,
- You can check out her latest post with practical advice on how to handle a stint of unemployment
- Or find her at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/cate-williams-36752318/
About the author
Cate Williams is a passionate marketer with 14 years experience in the industry. She has built and grown brands both locally and abroad, with a passion for making truly great work and leading enthusiastic and fulfilled teams. She champions curiosity, communication and collaboration and believes that a happy and motivated team will always produce the best and most innovative work. She believes unwaveringly in doing what you love – otherwise, don’t do it at all. A highly patriotic South African, she believes in the potential of her country and the power that South African’s have to make it a better place, together.
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