Friday, April 24, 2009

Portrait: Olympia, Washington

Unemployment has left me with many dark days. Days where my eyes burn from tears, where I ask myself over and over, “What am I doing wrong?” I have moments where I think I might never find a job, where I will be forced to give in and work in fast food to simply pay my bills. I have days where I doubt my skills, and days where I just want to give up. But strangely enough, unemployment has also brought me extreme joy…

After loosing my job, I made the tough choice to leave Seattle, WA, a city I had grown to love over the last five years, to join my boyfriend on his relocation journey to Olympia, WA. I was packing my bags and moving to a city I had never visited, a city that was smaller, less cosmopolitan, away from friends and familiarity, to try to change my luck. I had used up all my savings trying to pay rent, interviews weren’t producing jobs, and I had run out of options. I was scared, and mostly terrified that my life as I knew it was coming to a pitiful end. I couldn’t find another job, and so I was being forced to leave.

Yet here I am. I have been unemployed for 138 days now, at least a hundred more days than I ever imagined I would be unemployed, and I’m still standing.

I no longer have a beautiful apartment on Lake Washington, but now I have a house that I share with my loving, supportive boyfriend. I can no longer afford to buy myself clothes, but instead, what little money I receive from unemployment I use for flowers in my garden, or home cooked meals on my table. I can’t afford to go bar hopping with friends any longer, so instead I sit on my porch with a cheap glass of wine and enjoy the company of people who care. Now that I no longer spend 40 hours a week at work I finally have time to start a blog (The Accidental Olympian), take more pictures, keep in touch with friends, and enjoy nature. The city I loved so much kept me from having the time, or space to get a dog. Now that I am no longer working, I finally adopted a puppy, and can enjoy being a dog owner once again. I might not live in a bustling city any longer, but now I take afternoon walks along the river and find enjoyment being in nature. EVERYTHING in my life is different after loosing my job, and as hard as it was to take in all these changes at once, now that I’m here, accepting my life, things are better than they were pre-unemployment.

I still get down. Only yesterday I found out that both of the jobs I interviewed for, both of the jobs I worked so hard to receive, selected a different candidate for the position. It’s hard to continue to accept second place, it never feels good to know I wasn’t their top choice, but I keep applying, keep searching. Eventually my life will change, either with a new job, a new opportunity, or a new chance. Until then I’ve learned to live with the uncertainty, accept my life as it has become, and keep moving forward.

Olympia, WA