When I was first asked to participate in this blog, I hesitated. Because I am a very private person by nature, the prospect of sharing information with strangers made me nervous. It still does. But if this will help people understand what it is like to be unemployed now, I am willing to share some of my experiences.

I was laid off from my job in late winter this year. Fortunately, I qualified for state unemployment benefits. I hit the ground running, and with the help of a friend, managed to secure an interview less than a week after being laid off. The prospective employer was creating several new jobs within a new department and the recruiter was interested in me. I remember thinking, “Could it be this easy? Could I only be unemployed for a few weeks?”  It looked like a real recovery was actually beginning to take place.

I did not secure the job for which I had interviewed but I remained positive that something good would happen.  I kept plugging away, searching the job boards and applying for positions for which I would be a good fit. I quickly discovered that a job search is far more exhausting than having a job and working 60 hours a week. 

Sometime in the spring, I began to notice job openings beginning to dwindle. I remember the gloomy spring day when I had a panic attack and a flood of horrifying scenarios began running through my mind. Said fears ranged from becoming homeless, to being unable to obtain basic medical care, to being unemployed forever.  That was when persistent dread and amplified anxiety entered my daily existence.

But I have continued the job safari, as I call it, determined to find something.

(Courtesy of Stephanie Dudgeon)

One of the more painful parts of being unemployed has been a growing feeling of failure. This weekend, my graduating high school class will be having a reunion. But I won’t be there because I dreaded the prospect of being repeatedly asked, “What do you do now?”

One of the most disturbing things about my unemployment has been the lack of a response from our federal government.  I don’t want President Obama to approach the podium with a box of tissues and cry like Boehner — no! — but sometimes I find his detached, cerebral style unwelcome.  It is a fantasy of mine to have President Obama come out, slam his fist on the podium, and express outrage for why companies aren’t hiring, especially when some of them are showing record profits and stockpiling cash.

But he can’t. As long as both parties continue to lock horns, putting ideology ahead of problem solving, and failing to settle the federal budget, the two-party clown rodeo taking place inside the Beltway has made every corporation jittery.

There may as well be crickets chirping at our political leaders’ microphones when it comes to their thoughts and feelings about our high unemployment rate. With a tree frog warbling in the background to add some feeling.

Stephanie Dudgeon, a 48-year-old former project manager from Columbus, Ohio, has been unemployed for five months. Read more about her here. Read about the “Help Wanted” project here. Visit the project home page here.