My Unemployed Life: Finding the Silver Lining

unemploymentWhen you lose your job, it's easy to jump right into panic mode. The challenge is being able to find something good when everything seems to be falling down around you. This was the challenge that I faced when I was laid off, and I'm still working through it. But knowing that there is something to look forward to is key in helping overcome day-to-day obstacles.

My name is Yvette and I'm a 39-year-old single mother from Prince George's County, Maryland. As a single mother I never expected my life to be easy, but my employment history began to take a turn in 2006. I had spent most of my life working in customer service and had never really had a problem finding employment, ever since high school. After several temporary assignments ranging from stuffing envelopes to front-desk jobs, I finally found a position in the district office of Radio Shack.

A good job -- gone

I had originally applied to work as a seasonal sales associate, but as fate would have it, the district administrator was about to step down to become a stay-at-home mom and my office experience caught the eye of the district manager. I was making just above minimum wage in the beginning, but in three years I was able to more than double my salary and I became very efficient at my job. I enjoyed my job because I did more than just prepare files and answer telephones; I finally had a sense of purpose. However, after three years of faithful service, the company made changes and my position was phased out.

My first reaction was shock, but as a mother I knew that I had no time to sit and feel sorry for myself. Bills still had to be paid on time and I had a child to feed, so I immediately began calling temp agencies. I got enough work to keep my head above water and finally thought that things were back on track when my last temporary assignment turned into a full-time permanent position. I began working as a processor for CMart. I had taken a cut in pay, but I was happy to know that I had a job to look forward to every day -- that is, until we received news that the store was closing.

A time of hard knocks

I had such a flood of emotions that I had no idea how to react. I laughed, cried and prayed all within two minutes. My roommates were moving out, so now not only was I facing a cut in pay, but also an increase in expenses -- and no other options in sight. I began sending out resumes, but with every interview I was beginning to lose hope because none ended with the words I prayed to hear, "When can you start?"

My bills were getting behind and my pride would not allow me to reach out to friends or family for help. When my unemployment compensation finally began to come in, I tried to catch up with the rent and bills, but by then they were already more than a month behind. As the weeks rolled by, fear and anger increased and I sank into a state of depression until finally my worst nightmare came true -- my daughter and I were evicted from our apartment.

At this point, I felt that things couldn't possibly get any worse. My daughter and I moved in with my mother and I had to start over from scratch. I felt like a failure, but my mother wouldn't allow me to feel sorry for myself. After getting settled in, I immediately put in a change of address at the post office and continued to send out resumes. I even landed a couple of interviews, one of which led to a second interview for a clerical position with D.C. Courts.

A hopeful beginning

In the meantime, the school year was beginning and I had to enroll my daughter in a new school. I walked with her each morning and got to know her teacher, as well as the school staff (as I had done in our old neighborhood). In conversing with the school secretary, I found out that they were seeking a new lunch-and-recess monitor, so I immediately filled out an application. I was hired on the spot and began working the following week. This was supposed to be a part-time income until the "real" job I wanted came through. But after two weeks I absolutely fell in love with my new job. I enjoyed the children and I began to visualize myself as a paraprofessional. I began taking classes online and in two more months, I will have earned my associates degree in Elementary Education.

The bad news is that I still do not have a permanent position. However, I do still work periodically as a temporary/substitute teacher in the public school system. I fight off depression by looking at the good things that have happened as a result of losing my last permanent job. I have more time to spend with my daughter and my mom. This is especially important to me because my mother had open-heart surgery last year, so I feel blessed to be here to help her along in her recovery.

Most of all I feel blessed to have found a career that makes me feel so passionate. I look forward to becoming a full-time teacher and being a positive example in the lives of children. I wanted to tell my story because I am living proof that even when the bottom falls out, you can find something positive to look forward to.

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