What I Want You to Know is a series of
reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their
personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the
unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to
this series, click here. Today’s guest posts is by anonymous reader.
I am underemployed. I have been unemployed. The news these days is
filled with stats on people like me, but I want you to know what it is
I lost my job in late 2009, without warning, thanks to the
economy. I have a BA from a very good school and a JD. I’ve passed the
bar exam. I have good references, and I have experience. But, what
people don’t understand is that these qualifications don’t GUARANTEE me
success. It doesn’t necessarily make my job search any easier. Just
because I’m not where you expect me to be does not mean I’m a bad person
Though I am employed today (part-time), I am
underemployed. I’m using my degree a bit, but the position is low hours
and not permanent. I am incredibly thankful for this position, but it’s
difficult to talk to people about my job situation right now. It’s
inevitably met with “Why aren’t you working more?” and “Why are you
working there?” and then advice (and more advice… and even more
advice) about what to do.
What they don’t understand, however
great their intentions, is that I have two competing balances— to
myself and to my well-being. For myself: I’d love to work somewhere
else, full-time, and doing what I love. But, for my well-being: that job
might never come. Despite the best of qualifications, I might not ever
get there. And, I need to survive in the meantime (or forever, whichever
it might be).
What I wish people would do is not assume. Please
don’t assume I’m unhappy because I’m not in a position that YOU thought
I’d be. Please don’t assume I feel bad. Please don’t assume I want to
talk about it. Believe me, I’ve beat myself up and down. I have to try
to feel good about myself. I have good days and bad. I have days where I
feel stupid for not being able to find a better job…. there are days
where I scan Craigslist and other sources for ANYTHING and want to cry
when there are no jobs I qualify for… and know that other jobs I apply
to I will be turned away from for being “overqualified.” I’ve thought
about hiding my experience and my degrees on my resume and applying for
other positions, but I’m not to that point yet. It makes me hopeful and
incredibly sad to think about hiding things which took me decades to
But please, I don’t need or want your judgment. I’d
love you to be proud of me– I’m making it work. Of course I’m looking
for other jobs. But, what I need from you right now is the support of
reminding me that I’m not a bad person… not another person spouting
advice and judgment. I would love you to be sensitive to the fact that
this is a hard time for me. I am so proud of you and your job… but I
might not want to talk about it for hours. Is that ok?
to put so many things on the back burner. Children. Trips. Family.
Please be sensitive to that and stop asking me when I will have kids and
reminding me that I’m not growing any younger.
What I want you
to do the most: Put yourself in my shoes. You’ll realize that I’m doing
the best I can, I have a strong will to get out of this, and I have a
determined smile on my face. But, that doesn’t mean I need your judgment
or advice. I need friends who are proud of me for what and where I am,
not judgmental for what and where I am not.