The Low Point
With £60 in my bank account, I ventured out to town to pick up some last minute gifts before heading home for Christmas.
I make my shopping trip to town short and brief – ensuring as little money as possible is spent. I already feel upset about the £2.50 bus fare, and now I’m being tempted by stalls selling what my body so desperately wants.
I take the plunge and head towards the counter. I stand in line, and reassure myself that one purchase won’t break the bank. Besides, I had held out for so long, I deserved to treat myself.
After minutes of contemplation, I back out; knowing full well my account cannot suffer a blow of £4 just before Christmas. I head back to the bus station to fork out my next £2.50 and mope my way into a panic.
I never thought I’d reach the point where £3 seemed expensive for something. And I never imagined that I’d be in a position where I couldn’t afford to see my friends or pay the rent. And yet, here I am: Poor, in debt and unemployed. And all I want is a God damn bubble tea.
After years of standing on my own two feet, I like to think of myself as the Destiny’s Child of the ordinary world: An independent woman who’s also a master of sass.
So as I ventured a little South to begin a new life, my status of unemployment rattled me a little and suddenly I had to depend on others like some sort of 5 year old child asking for a snack.
I prefer to buy the snacks. And eat them at leisure on the sofa I bought, in the flat that I rent. Dependency wasn’t something I was ready to give in to particularly easily.
I started looking for jobs before the big move by with very little success – other than the occasional interview, I started saving my pennies in the hope to soothe the winter that was yet to come.
‘There are no jobs’ I found myself moaning on a daily basis after endless years of tutting and sighing when others told me similar.
After working for five years, I had imagined job-searching was going to be easy; with experience in my favour, I assumed nothing could stand in my way.
I spent the first month South walking my way through a virtual street of doors shutting in my face, receiving very little feedback for my rejections and a number of excuses claiming I didn’t have the experience.
Recruiters leached onto me and my job-searching virginity and found ways to trick me onto their books. I was invited to interviews and even FaceTimed by recruiters to discuss my job search, rather than just putting me forward for the job I’d applied for.
‘So would you be interested in this role?’
‘Well, yeah. That’s why I applied for it.’ ‘Ok, I’ll put you through.’
And every rejection hurts more than the previous: Any slither of self-confidence you had is snuffed out and job searching becomes a tedious process of motivating yourself to prepare for rejection all over again.
There’s words like ‘executive’ or ‘senior’ that automatically make you hide away and accept you’re not worthy of such a title. And suddenly, you’re back looking at bar jobs and accepting you weren’t destined for greater things.
Not only does the rejection hurt, the hours of the day drain away so painfully slowly, that getting out of bed feels a little pointless.
Of course, being the independent girl that I am, as soon as things weren’t looking up for me, I turned my business head to self-employment and began doing as much freelance work as I could get my hands on. If I could earn a couple of dollars a week, I’d be onto a winner and could stop the self-deprecating job search once and for all.
I met some hiccups. Some were simple little hiccups that just meant I needed to do a little more research… others were the type that are so strong they set you back a week and you lose out on $480. Not had those? Lucky you.
In my ‘taking risks because fuck it’ phase of unemployment, I took on a few copy-writing roles for clients over Skype. Of course, then there’s no real protection, and after one week – typing out 2 eBooks, 38 blog posts, 10 product descriptions and few bits on the side – my ‘loyal’ customer no longer replied, ignored my invoices and I received zero pay for my efforts.
Eventually, after a fair few tears, too many pages of notes, several taxis and a number of interviews, I finally got a job.
The Poor Peasant Waiting Game
I now am technically employed, but with no start date in place, cash isn’t suddenly pouring into my bank account. And won’t be for about a month. Pretty Empty Pockets has never seemed so apt.
I’ve never done this whole ‘not having money’ thing, and I never really thought I’d have to. When I say I have no money, I mean that my boyfriend has been paying for rent, food, bills and anything extra we do. And that I think paying a pound for the superglue I need is a bit much. Or that despite very rarely spending money on myself, I can’t even afford to treat myself to a God damn bubble tea.
I used to keep my bank account afloat at a solid £1,000. Below that was my idea of ‘needing to cut back’. I was laughed at for my ability to save, so having none of my own money is like a punch in the teeth: An embarrassing situation that leaves me no option but to borrow money to get to work each day when I start. My entire first wage will used to pay back those kind enough to lend me money during my dependent days.
You start to wonder ‘how long will everyone’s niceness last?’
I don’t really trust nice people as it is, but when loaning money, or paying for an unemployed person to eat and live, I can imagine it’s only a matter of time before people snap and get tired.
Sure, people might understand times are hard, but I don’t think people understand just how hard it is, and how disgusting it feels to have to borrow money out of true necessity.
So 2017 has been entered almost unemployed. I’ve about £40 in my account and I’m just ready to get to work now. I’m ready to work on my goals, and achieve my company’s aims. I’m ready to earn money and start my savings once more. I’m ready to start paying my way through life again and actually contributing to the household bills. I’m ready to start paying people back and finally, one day, I’ll have enough left over for my beloved, God damn bubble tea.