“Unemployment is a scary disease; the longer I am in it, the faster it eats me away.”
This is the statement I made in my previous article, Life of a Full-Time Job Seeker. Since I graduated from college in May 2018, I have experienced unemployment twice.
The first time, it was six months later that I got a job. Six months; half a year. Jobless and depressed. But I was not sitting at home waiting for a job to land on my lap. I applied for jobs relentlessly. I sought many other alternative career plans and invested so much time and money on those plans. How silly I was! But I was hopeful; I was excited to do something different. I went for it, hard. I was restless. I did not sleep nor eat properly. Within a month, I lost ten pounds and did not have a period for over three months. But around the same time, I started working as an Art Instructor at Painting with a Twist. I stop my self-destructive behaviors; I did not think much of it.
In March 2019, that Painting with a Twist studio went out of business. Once again, I was jobless. Self-destruction started all over again. I came back to not getting enough sleep. I sat in front of my computer all day, trying to be productive. I desperately wanted to make any kinds of progress. I hardly went outside unless I needed food and supplies. Being around people annoyed me. I built my own prison and sentenced myself to death without realizing it.
Self-destruction does not always come from depression. In my case, it came from the desperate need to get rid of my unemployment. It took me a while to start realizing what I was doing to myself. I had good intentions, but how I chose to execute them was wrong. Working hard is a virtue, but working yourself to death is foolishness. I was fortunate to have realized that sooner than later.
Before long, I started reading other people’s experience with unemployment and how they dealt with it. I bought books on self-development. I spent time reading instead of driving myself to a dead-end.
Self-destruction is an addiction. Sometimes, I caught myself going back to the old ways, and it was hard not to. But I finally started to heal and be productive, all the while caring for myself and my relationships with others. I am sharing with you four things I do in my everyday life to stop me from self-destructing. These are steps that work for me, and I hope they can help you, too.
Get Plenty of Rest:
A month ago, my husband suggested that I read the book What Color Is Your Parachute (2019) by Richard N. Bolles. Boy, how I wish I had known of this book sooner! In chapter Appendix B, Bolles listed ten things people should do when they are out of work. The first thing is to catch up on sleep. He elaborated that while people often think unemployment is the cause of unhappiness, the lack of sleep is most likely the real cause.
Sleep is a process of repairing our body and resetting our mind. Having enough rest improves our mentality and emotions. Staying up late or skipping sleep seem insignificant when you are young and full of energy, but it will affect you negatively in the long run. A well-rested mind helps you make better decisions and maintain excellent performance.
In my second year of college, I learned to meditate from my Mr. McIntosh, Theology professor. His class was not the best class, but his meditation methods have helped me a lot. Meditating is not hard, but it requires attentiveness and patience. This meditation I am sharing with you is perfect for busy schedules. If you have a few minutes now, do this mediation with me as you read through the steps.
When I meditate, I sit straight with both feet on the ground. If you have a lounge chair or a bed nearby, go ahead and lay down. If you have a yoga mat to sit on, that works, too. Either way, make yourself comfortable before we start.
I either close my eyes or fix my eyes on one point. Try staring at a dot on the wall, a mark on the ceiling, or an object that stands out to you. Breathe slowly and steadily as you start meditating.
First, think about how you are feeling physically. Do you feel any aches? Do you have itches? Feel the clothes against your skin. How about your hair? Is it on the back of your neck? Is it on your back? Is it tucked behind your ears? Try sensing any tiredness. Do you feel full or hungry? Are you feeling warm or cold, or in between?
Extend your feelings from physical to emotional. Are you happy? Sad? Do you feel anxious or calm?
From there, project the awareness out to your surroundings. When I am doing this, I often listen to the sound of my computer running. I hear the chair creaking when I move. I listen to the noises from the outside: the birds’ chirping; the beeping sound of a truck; cars driving by; and so on.
When you are ready to wrap up the meditation, take a deep breath, open your eyes, and resume your daily duties.
Meditation helps me slow down, pull myself out of my head, and build awareness about the presence. When you feel stressed and lost in your emotions, meditation can provide you with a more objective view of the world, yourself, and your situation.
Appreciate little things:
As I am writing this step, I am sitting in my home office enjoying a cup of coffee and a Chinese-style green bean cake. I think about how fortunate I am to have found this rare treat at an oriental market nearby. I think about how I am enjoying the sweetness of the cake. I like the taste of beans and sesame oil. I love the mint color and the delicate patterns on the cake.
At this moment, I no longer feel miserable. I am happy and grateful that I am here enjoying a cup of coffee and a sweet bean cake. Appreciating little things helps you become content with what you have. It sounds cliche, but it works. Whatever you are going through, it is not the end of the world. Be happy that you are alive; you have the power to evolve and improve your situation.
Most importantly, open yourself up to others:
This is a particularly tough one for me. Because of my upbringing, I have always been prideful and ashamed to let my failures known. After all, in this society, people’s values depend on their success.
“Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.” — Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights.
Prideful people seek solitude. They like to do things on their own so that their success is only theirs to take. I was a loner once. I was arrogance, full of myself, and refused to admit my shortcomings. As a result, I was miserable. I was lonely, drown in my self-pity, and hopeless.
When I started to write again, writing about my struggles was only a way for me to vent. I did not think much of it, nor did I expect anyone to read my entries. To my surprise, people started telling me they have been through the same things, and how much my stories resonated with them. It is a heart-warming feeling knowing I am not alone. It feels even better knowing that I can use my experience to help other people. So, instead of complaining about my tribulation, I have decided to become a writer who helps and heals people. And myself.
It took me almost two days to complete this article. In those two days, a lot has happened. I locked down to writing gigs and officially started my freelance writing career. I reconnected with my two best friends, both have read and enjoyed my articles. My dad, who rarely gives compliments, told me, “My daughter is the best.” I have become happier. In fact, my husband and I made plans to hang out with people this weekend, and I am excited!
My life is still not stable, yet, but I am making progress. I am telling you all this now, so you know where I was a week ago, and where I am now. Life is full of ups and downs. Do not let your downs drown you. I almost did. Keep climbing towards the ups. Take care of yourself, celebrate progress, stay in touch with your family, and always ask for help. Like me, you will realize how silly it was to torture yourself over some failures.