I’ve been reading this series of unemployment stories courtesy of Gawker.com. At the invitation of the editors, people were asked to send in their own personal stories about how they are coping with being unemployed during the current recession/depression/whatever the fuck name you want to give to the pile of bullshit we call our current economy. The stories sent in are depressing, heart breaking, and scary. People have given up hope, are suicidal, and at what they believe is a dead end road in life. Many have spent many years and lots of money to get some sort of higher education, only to find that there are no jobs in the area of expertise that their diploma says they are experts in. There are young un’s fresh out of school still living in their parents homes, and older and alleged wiser folks, like myself, who find that at the ripe old age of the mid 50’s, are no longer employable…something I have found out down here on the rock.
But if you read through theses tales of woe and despair you are going to notice something. A simple theme running through most of these stories. None of these people have a notion that maybe, just maybe, they can create their own job, rather than rely on some company to hold their hand through the rigors of life. Nobody seems to even consider taking a chance and trying some old fashioned entrepreneurial spirit. They all have been conditioned to believe that the only way to get through in life and make any money is by way of the good graces of somebody else providing the means. They are unwilling to take a chance at starting and building something on their own. Instead they are wasting time sending out useless resumes, crashing and burning at interviews, and spending time wondering what went wrong rather than getting off their ass and doing something about it.
By far, the happiest times in my life, the times when I had little or no stress, were the times I was self employed. The money was tight, the work was hard, and the future gloomy, but I didn’t care. Everything I did had an effect on my life good or bad. The
harder smarter I worked, the more I benefitted. And when I failed, and I did many a time, it was not the end of the world, even though I live there now.
From the beginning, when I finally escaped from the hell of school, I never once had a desire to work for somebody else. I did, because my lifestyle, and mindset told me that was the “right thing to do”. My upbringing along with the misguided advice of counselors at that shit hole of a school, embedded the idea that none of us who went through that institution of lower learning would ever be fit to do anything on our own. We were to be worker bees. Drones who slaved for those much more better than us who had the smarts and the means to create great companies whom we should be forever grateful to for allowing us to exist in some some lower class lifestyle. Giving us juuust barely enough to go out and obtain enough creature comforts to keep us reasonably happy….with low monthly payments of course. And then add in the myth of benefits like pensions, health care, and the like, only to snatch it away at the moment when you need it the most. It was all and still is just plain bovine fecal matter. Each time I tried to go out on my own and failed, and then wound up back in the hive, I didn’t get all depressed, well, maybe a little, but I didn’t give up. I just fell back, regrouped, and got ready for the next try.
I am a firm believer that you are where you are in your life do to the combined effects of the all the decisions you have made during said life. In other words, you can’t blame anyone else for your current situation, good or bad. If you go back and read some of those stories you’ll notice many of those people made some really bad decisions. Drug addiction, alcohol, having a kid at a young age when you can’t afford it, or getting a college degree in something without properly exploring the job market and potential for income. Expectations seldom live up to reality. They were listening to the sizzle and not looking at the steak. As a result, they are now sitting there, unemployed, and in trouble.
You might also notice that many express a desire to “own nice things”. A house, a new car, furniture, etc. They have been so conditioned to the a consumerist ideal that the thought of going through life without such things means you are a failure in the eyes of others. Hint: If anyone judges you by the stuff you own, they ain’t worth the time or effort to change their opinion. One of the main reasons I failed earlier in life to make it on my own is because I was trying to maintain a certain lifestyle that was unmaintainable for what I wanted to do. Those times are long gone. I no longer have to worry about paying a mortgage, dealing with thousands of dollars in credit card bills, or repairing a vehicle that still has 2 years of payments left on the loan. By reducing my wants and needs down to the basics, I can concentrate on building my little app business. It won’t take much to support my lavish yacht living lifestyle and if it should fail, I am not sitting on a mountain of debt nor will I be at risk of losing much. But, it won’t fail. Not this time.
Yes, I know what you are thinking…”Not everyone has the ability to go out and do something on their own.” I would say, “Yes, they do.” The entrepreneurial spirit in this country has been suppressed for a long time. By government, by education, by peers who believe that they cannot do it on their own, then dammit, you can’t either. Starting your own business is hard. It costs money. You are too old to be thinking about such silly things. When are you going to settle down and get a real job? Yeah, I’ve heard it all. And ignored it all.
Look. All it takes is an idea and the willingness to take a chance. If you ain’t getting hired anyways what else do you have to lose? Your dignity? Toss that into the dumpster immediately. Be ready, able, and willing to do anything to turn a buck. And it doesn’t have to be anything exotic, unusual, or out of the ordinary. If it’s summer, drag a lawnmower out of the garage and start offering to cut lawns for the neighbors. Run a quick ad online for lawn maintenance and see what happens. Good at cleaning stuff? Bid on some office cleaning. Got a place like Mallory Square here in Key West? Get a permit, throw on a pirate outfit, grab a donation mug, and go AAAARRRRRH for the tourists with the cameras. (Some people do this and make out pretty damn good and yes, I have considered it.)
Or take advantage of the technology out there, grab a laptop, and learn some programming skills. The ability to sit there online and make money is one of the easiest ways I have found to pull in a few dollars. It allows you to work from home or wherever you may be, your hours can be flexible, and you are limited only by your own abilities. Need an example?
I taught myself….read that again….I TAUGHT MYSELF how to build and host websites. I didn’t have the money to go to school, nobody was willing to show me how for free. I simply bought a computer and learned myself. It twern’t easy, and I spent many a frustrating hour trying to figger out this and that, but I learned how. This past summer, at the ripe old age of 57, I taught myself how to build apps for the iPhone. I’m still learning but I got good enough to get 5 apps and an ebook published so far on iTunes with more coming. Start up costs have been minimal and it’s made a few dollars, enough actually to get me through to the end of the year, but the potential is there to do really well with this. All I need to do is market it to do so. And for that, I can fall back on the sales skills I learned over the years as a worker bee. So if you do decide to go out and try something completely different, there is always a chance that what you did in the past may come in handy to help with whatever you are doing now.
“Yeah.”, you might say, “But all that tech stuff is hard.” Only if you think it is. Need another example?:
stalker commenter here on this blog, whom we all know and love, frequently made mention that she had little or no technical skills. Well, a certain pirate but the bug in her ear that maybe she should have her own blog. She agreed and within 48 hours had her first posts up. Now a month later she has one of the prettiest blogs online. Her site is minimal, her writing borders on is poetry, and she is closing in on 100 visitors a day. You can see the site right here at peanutonthetable. Does she make any money with her blog? The potential is there is she wants to. The point is though, a young lady who thought something was beyond her abilities found out that in reality, that something was not only easy, but she had the skills from within to really make it special. She has created something to be very proud of. Whether or not she makes any money off the site is not important for her particular situation. What’s important is she took the time to learn a new skill, and hopefully that skill will serve her for a very long time.
So if you are sitting there unemployed and feeling sorry for yourself. If it seems like you have exhausted all possibilities of finding a job. Go find a mirror. The answer to all your problems is right there, as well as the solution. Do not sit around throwing an ongoing pity party for your self. None of these faceless, bureaucratic excuses we have for corporations give a shit if you live or die. Neither does the government. Treat them back the same way. You do have, even though it may not seem like at the moment, you do have the ability to fend for yourself and make your own way in life. Forget what others may think of you. Their opinions mean nothing. Get out and grab a handful of life’s testicles and squeeze them for all they are worth. Make life howl for you for change. The means and the ability are within you. All you need to do is bring it out.