My body is in fight mode. My mind is anxious. My body is tense. My nerves are raw. There are nights I can’t sleep. My body has decided to go into instinctual survival mode. According to BodySolutions.com, the body enters fight or flight mode as a response to a perceived threat.
“When our fight or flight system is activated, we tend to perceive everything in our environment as a possible threat to our survival. Our immune system mobilizes with increased activation. We become prepared—physically and psychologically—for fight or flight. “
My threat to survival is unemployment. It has been 7 weeks since my last paycheck and my savings are dwindling. Seven weeks ago, I wasn’t that worried. I had recently applied for unemployment naively assuming that I would get a paycheck from the government system in which I could comfortably pay my bills and take care of myself while looking for work. In fact, I was excited for this moment that I wrote a blog post entitled, The Unemployed Life. In that post, I wistfully shared my desire to take trips to the Bermuda.
Well reality hit me. For most, the unemployed life isn’t glamorous. There is nothing glamorous about worrying about your unemployment benefits kicking in. There is nothing glamorous about hearing that your unemployment case needs to be assigned and it will take weeks to resolve. There is nothing glamorous about going to the food stamp office for emergency funds and being told “Well, emergency funds can take up to 7 days.” There is nothing glamorous about feeling rejected, undervalued and dismissed by your former employer no matter how bad you hated it.
The unemployed life is about survival.
Our greatest fear in life is the inability to survive. Instinctively, our body decides to fight to survive or flee to survive. However, there are moments when we consciously decide to face our fear or run away from it. At this very moment, my body is instinctively physically fighting. But there are moments when I consciously flee. This is my second time around experiencing unemployment and I remember periods of flight where I didn’t look for work. I numbed my fear by watching shows or wallowing in my self-pity. This too is a natural response. At the time, I was living with my parents. Now I don’t have the luxury. Yes, I still get moments of depression but I haven’t reached a long bout yet.
This particular Friday after I had accidentally transfered $700 to my credit card instead of my checking to cover my rent, I was particularly depressed. Shit always hits the fan when you’re struggling and you feel it more when you have no cushion. A few moments later, I got a request for a third interview for a job that I applied for, but instead of jumping for joy, I only thought of how I really didn’t want the job. I thought about the low salary and how I’m in the very same position I was in last year, desperate for a job. This time even more desperate because I need to survive. I knew I was depressed.
So on that day, during a routine physical, I was asked the mandated question by medical professionals. “Are you feeling depressed?” I answered.
“Yes, I lost my job and I have moments.”
A few moments later I was in tears. I knew it was coming. The combination of the question and a pelvic exam gone painfully wrong triggered it. They’re next question, “Would you like to be referred to a psychiatrist?”
At that moment, I decided to fight.
I said, “Yes.”
I need to fight this depression because fleeing from it will only deepen it.
I left the office still feeling defeated and depressed. I had no motivation to join the job seeker webinar scheduled later that evening.
But I decided to fight.
Friday night, I opened my laptop, took my notebook, gathered a pen and some colored markers and I listened and took notes.
Saturday morning, I contemplated staying in bed and wallowing in my fears of not getting unemployment benefits, losing all of my savings and having to tell my roommate that I’m heading back to Chicago.
But I decided to fight my fears.
I got of bed, meditated, and attended to a Zumba and Yoga class. Later, I created a plan to implement all of the concepts I learned from the webinar into my job search strategy.
Every moment, I am consciously deciding to fight. I have to. My sanity, my livelihood, my happiness, my survival depends on it.
This experience is truly teaching me that we are made of strength and struggle. When I go to the unemployment office and witness the struggles some people go through, I am truly amazed. Realizing that there are people in worse situations like a single mother who is on her last penny and still has the dignity and fight to beg for her food stamps, motivates me to keep fighting.
“People go through this all the time, people survive.” I told myself a few weeks ago as I cried on a city bench after hearing the news of my unemployment. I slapped my face and wiped my tears and fought my way through an informational interview 15 minutes later.
It is said that God shines through our weakness. I think it’s true. It is in these moments of struggle and despair that I see a power greater than myself emerge. Where else does that tenacity, that perseverance, that fight come from? Where else but in the God in me?
So by the grace of God and the power of my own spirit, I’m going to keep fighting. Everyday, I will choose to fight to end up in a career I love. My survival depends on it.