In the last 14 months, I’ve been unemployed for about 8 of them. I up and moved my life from New York to San Francisco for a job that laid me off 4 months later. All of my unemployment money goes to rent. The rent is stupid high in San Francisco, but I do get to live in this very pretty city. My savings is quickly dwindling down as I have no money coming in. I tried looking for work as a bartender or server, but they only want people who have recent experience of at least 2 years. I was a waitress while going to grad school in 2000, but that’s not recent enough for them. I took bartending classes here in San Francisco, but that’s not enough experience for them. I’ve been looking for work in pharmaceutical advertising, but people are looking for specific disciplinaries that I don’t have experience in writing. I would approach consumer advertising agencies, but my copywriter portfolio is only in pharmaceutical writing. I have a portfolio for art direction in advertising, but then employers wonder why I went into copywriting.
I’m having trouble finding work. I’m having trouble surviving.
The only work that I’ve been able to do to quickly make cash that won’t deduct from my unemployment benefits is that of a candy girl. Yes, I walk around the city of SF carrying a tray with candy and cigarettes to sell to folks in bars and clubs. It’s the only gig I’ve been able to get, and it barely pays. You rent out the tray at $11 and you are designated an area that you will work. A driver will drop you off on a certain block and will tell you which bars you can go into. The driver then picks you up about an hour later. This goes on for about 4 hours each night. You make a very small percent of what you sell (ranging from $.30 – $1.20), the tips is where you make any money as this is not an hourly paid job. The most I’ve made was my first night at $140, the least was $20, but it really averages at about $10/hr in cash.
I have a masters degree and I’m selling candy and cigarettes on the steet so that I can eat.
I could get all bitter and whiny and play the “woe is me” card, but it’s not gonna happen. If you know me, you’ll know that I’ve had a lot of crummy stuff happen in my life but I somehow manage to make out of it ok. Sure, I’ve been pretty bummed and confused these last few months but I’m pushing along. Scraping along really.
Even though I’m really down on my luck, friends have really surprised me with their belief and support in me. Belief in myself was really slipping, but I feel like I’ve been able to get some of my fire back. I have no idea of how I’m going to get out of this. I barely have a clue of what’s going to happen to me in the next month. I have been appreciating the small gifts that I get each day. The simple things like making someone laugh, cooking a good dinner, playing with my dog, the things that make me smile. I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to live a pretty cool life. My life sucks right now and I think it’s about to get even harder, but even at it’s roughest, it’s not that bad.
I have to believe in myself, it’s all I’ve got.
I wrote goals and posted them around my apartment so that I can remind myself that I can do this. I’ve also put up a few of my favorite quotes to keep me going each day.
I can do this. I HAVE TO do this. My little light has got to shine on.
“Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” ~ Conan O’Brien
“Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. With all its sham, drudgery—and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.” ~ Max Ehrmann
“If there is one key thing I could convey to anyone reading this is to hustle. You will never be prepared for the things you are capable of doing. You will achieve your greatest accomplishments not by building up a grand framework of skill and then deftly creating something glorious, but by starting small and persevering in making it better and better. It is never an easy road and you will gain a grand framework of skills, but you have to push your boundaries to grow.
I would love to put a triumphant “I’m just so damned smart and talented and handsome” paragraph here, but that’s not the case. I just steeped myself in this stuff, I worked in git daily, I read about it, watched screencasts, I bought agile web development in rails, I got design patterns in ruby, I hustled. And you can do it too, take the first step today.”