The trials and tribulations of unemployment in your early twenties
Unemployment is the worst, isn’t it? The headaches, financial stress, sleepless nights – I mean, the list just goes on and on. When my family asks, ‘How is the job search coming along?’ or tell me to keep applying with ‘You will find a job’, it’s tiring and irritating. I understand they are coming from a good place by telling me this, but I personally hate hearing it.
All the fun and relaxing things that you would normally want to do when employed somehow feel like the complete opposite. I can’t sleep till noon even when I have all the time in the world because I end up feeling like a complete failure. The notifications on my phone telling me about my screen time increase from being on social media for the majority of the day. The loss of income puts a stop to wanting to socialise with friends and family. I can’t even have a meal without feeling the stress of wanting a job so badly.
Of course, there are benefits to being unemployed too, like finally having time for a hobby or working out during the weekdays instead of cramming it in after work before a late dinner. Having the time to find your passion in life rather than working back-to-back jobs that you don’t enjoy. Going on a daily stroll that you wouldn’t normally have time for when employed, or booking a vacation since you have the time.
I really never thought at the age of 22 that I would be unemployed.
Yes, I did drop out of university, but I’m sitting here thinking to myself that I still have experience from a handful of jobs since the age of 16. The rollercoaster of emotions I have been through has been crazy since becoming unemployed. I was happy at the beginning as I was sure I was going to get a job quite quickly, so I applied to jobs every other day and never really did anything else during the day.
But, two months in, my mindset had changed. I started thinking that the job experience I had was not enough and employers wanted more, which started to make me regret dropping out of university. One of the things I never thought I would experience had happened. I didn’t even want to socialise anymore. Being asked out on dates or for a casual meet-up with friends was put to a stop. I have been taught to be financially stable before going out and spending any money. My parents are supportive; they often tell me to go on dates regardless of being unemployed or to travel down to see my friends. However, I physically feel like I can’t, and I am sure I am not the only one out here who feels this way.
One night I was scrolling on TikTok as you do before bed, and I saw a video talking about a group chat someone created on the app Geneva for unemployed people. I followed the link and downloaded it immediately. There were so many people on here with their own stories, helping each other out with links to websites for jobs or opportunities, which was great. This group chat really helped me feel like I was not alone at all. I made a friend here, and just hearing her talk about living a similar lifestyle during this time made me feel so much better. This app really encouraged me to take part in more opportunities, which is why I am sitting here writing this blog to hopefully help others. I am nearly six months into being unemployed but at a much better stage than before.
I was at a point where I was so confused about what I wanted to do since I am now jobless. I thought to myself, now is the time to find my passion and put all my efforts into a career I enjoy. So initially, I wrote down each job I thought I would be good at. I had all sorts of careers written down, completely different from one another. After a couple of months, I am now in a place where I know exactly which career path I want to pursue. So, I went on a hunt for a course to gain some knowledge and help me when applying for jobs. The course was then unexpectedly stopped and was no longer happening. I was back to square one, applying for jobs and having the worst luck I have experienced. I was having a conversation one night with my siblings and thought, why not put my efforts into my hobbies while still applying for jobs? At least that way, I am still doing something. I now have a routine for my hobbies, so I feel much more productive. Photography is one of my hobbies, and the other is a food page on Instagram. I never used to have the time to film my recipes or write out reviews for restaurants; however, I have been uploading more than ever. I feel way more stable mentally and physically with a routine in place. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still do sleep in sometimes as job searching along with rejection is exhausting; however, making the effort for hobbies a couple of times in the week does make it a lot easier for me to help ease my stresses.
A few things helped me during this time of unemployment.
Self-reflecting is a significant one. Doing this will help you come to a realisation of many things in your life. Whether it’s relationships, friendships, or even changing your career goal outcome. You have the freedom and the space you need away from any distractions to really think about your life’s direction. From this, a lot of self-improvement will happen. You may even change the way you think about a lot of things, which is one of the things I went through.
Healing your body mentally and physically
Improving your sleep schedule or connecting with others takes me to my next point. Do not go into isolation just because you may not have the funds to be spending on a day out. Find ways to connect online with people or try to find apps that allow you to do so. Go on a picnic with a friend or a walk, as one conversation with someone could change your path without even knowing it.
Build your skill set
Building your skill set with free courses online is another big one, as it will keep you updated with skills and knowledge. This will help your CV stand out, but most importantly, expand your network at the same time. Networking is crucial because it may even land you your next job without even looking for it.
I would encourage you to reach out to someone with whom you are comfortable talking and open up about how you feel during your period of unemployment. Opening up to people does not come easily for me at all; however, it is a nice feeling when you find someone you can talk to. Living back at home and having my parents’ support was one of the things I definitely didn’t know I needed.
A positive spin…
Always remember, that rejection is redirection. There is always going to be something better coming your way when you start to believe that it will. Learn to let go and try not to be so negative about this time in your life. Make the best out of it and enjoy the time off.
Authored by: Bhavini Q, Gen Z consultant at Imagen Insights