by LAURA DAWSON
This morning, I walked into a room stuffed with endless rows of chairs all full of people waiting impatiently. They looked like they’d been waiting for hours. Most were staring at a small TV screen that was showing the news in French (how convenient).
Most hadn’t bothered to brush their hair and may still have been wearing their pajamas. Some had actually resorted to chewing on their hair to pass the time. Where was I? Centrelink. I had an appointment there this morning because, like a growing number of people, I am unemployed.
There is undoubtedly a stigma associated with being unemployed. Not having a job must mean you’re lazy or unsuccessful or incompetent. I felt it when I walked into Centrelink and I deal with it in my harsh self-judgment on a daily basis.
It’s a difficult thing to admit, as strange as that might seem. I don’t set out to go somewhere at 8am every morning to put in a hard day’s work and return home late at night. I don’t have stories to tell about how this client was impressed/unimpressed/had their fly down when colleague x and I gave the presentation we’d been preparing for weeks. There is no such presentation, no destination and no colleague x (though if there were I am sure they would have bought the first round at the celebratory pub drinks, they’re just that kind of person).
I make excuses, like “Oh I’ve only really been unemployed for a month, that’s really just an extended holiday.” Or, “Being unemployed is allowing me to better understand and empathise with what so many people throughout the world are going through.” While both of these excuses might have a tiny element of truth, the reality is that at the moment, no company wants to hire me, and that rejection just plain sucks.
As a madly driven, extremely motivated perfectionist, I am hoping that this streak of joblessness doesn’t last very long. If it were an Olympic sport it should be the 100 meter sprint. But my determined attitude doesn’t fit in with media representations of the unemployed.