Tuesday, January 21, 2014

What It's Like to Be 24, Fabulous and Unemployed.

Hello. My name is Amber (Amberella to some), I'm 24 years old, and tomorrow it'll be two months since I had a job. Had, as in, I'm unemployed.

Let's go back to last summer, shall we? Girl has a job in her field of study that she's not particularly happy with. Girl gets fed up, takes out a $5,000 personal loan from her bank and decides to move to New York and live a Carrie Bradshaw-esque life. By the grace of God, girl lands a job as a Junior Account Executive for an intimate apparel company in Herald Square, and moves into a Brooklyn apartment.

November 22nd I got called into my boss' office. While making little to no eye contact, the VP of the company tells me that funds are down, cuts have to be made, and I had to go. I signed some paperwork, packed my belongings into a large H&M bag filled with some clothes I had purchased on my lunch break and left. And then I hopped on the M train, placed my head on top of my packed up office supplies, and cried the entire ride back to Brooklyn.

Fast forward to present day Amber. I traded in my Brooklyn digs for a room in my parents' Virginia home. I file for unemployment benefits every Monday, remembering that I have to find at least 2 jobs to apply to every week, which isn't a particularly easy thing to do around this time of the year. I enrolled in an online MBA program weeks before I got laid off, so when I'm not checking my Indeed app for jobs, I'm doing schoolwork (or inquiring about my refund check). While I'm not completely broke, I'm far from where I used to be, and it hurts. I've slowly come around to telling close friends what happened, but I still feel ashamed at times, and refuse to actually acknowledge on social media that I lost my job.

I can't say that being unemployed is a complete loss. I got to spend Thanksgiving, Christmas and NYE surrounded by friends and loved ones without the stress of traveling back to NY for work, or using vacation hours. Since I no longer have to keep up a professional appearance, I dyed my hair teal, which turned my honey blonde hair into a vibrant green hue that I receive compliments on all the time (this actually resulted in me having to purchase a wig for an unexpected job interview, which I've nicknamed "Nae Nae"). Men from back home that rarely spoke to me suddenly took an interest in how I was doing, asking when I'd be in their town, and if we'd be able to go out sometime (I'll save this topic for another blog). Days after Christmas, my best friend confided in me that she's pregnant. Now, I don't have to be a long distance godmommy!

After overcoming the shock and depression, I realized that being unemployed might have been one of the best things to happen to me. It allowed me to see that before being laid off I was trying to define myself by my job title. To me, being a Junior Account Exec held a certain status. It meant that I was no longer folding shirts and operating a cash register. Deep down, it made me feel like I was better than those who do that for a living, and I am certainly not. Also, it made me realize that I was trying to define myself by my zip code. I thought that moving to New York would solve all of my problems, when all it did was make me cherish everything I had left behind in the Commonwealth. Again, believing that I had something that everyone else didn't have made me feel like I was better than them, another no-no. The greatest thing it taught me, is to stop relying on spending money to make me happy! I've been working in retail since I was 16, and studying fashion since birth. Now that I don't work, I don't have the means to buy tons of clothes and stash the bags in my closet out of guilt/forgetfulness, only to be discovered upon moving out (that actually happened). I truly believe that those things were taken out of my life so I could redirect my attention on the things that actually matter, like my self worth and fiscal responsibility.

Even though I was able to find the silver lining in being unemployed, I DO plan returning to work one day very soon...those bills won't pay themselves, and living with your parents after you've been on your own is a nightmare. But this time, I'll be able to recognize the importance of finding something that I actually love doing everyday, rather than just loving the money being made. A great philosopher by the name of Kendrick Lamar once said, "We all get distracted, the question is would you bounce back or bounce backwards?" I think I'd feel a lot better with the former, rather than the latter.

My teal hair...something I can finally cross off my bucket list
Nae Nae and I getting ready for her big debut. I don't see how women wear these full-time


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