Having started working at the age of 19 I had never been unemployed in my life. Even when I joined Makerere University I earned from my acting gigs and an events management company I part timed at?
It was not until July 7th 2013 that I actually did join the 18 million Ugandans who are on the other side of employment. For the first time in my life I had no boss, no schedule and no goal to achieve.
I was unemployed. At first it didn’t drive in a lot of remorse and stigma but as soon as my savings run out, I understood what depression was, what insecurity was and what lack luster emotions were and stopped judging those that are faint hearted enough to commit suicide.
The truth is when you are unemployed confidence ostracizes you like some sort of leper. You have no money, no loyal friends in fact every single day is a fight for survival not for basic needs but for mental and emotional needs.
With this in mind, I’d like to encourage those looking to stay motivated during their job search to consider some of the things that helped me stay sane during that period;
Get yourself a Journal: I don’t care whether you graduated with a degree in Education, Mathematics, Industrial Art or whatever course it may be. writing about how you feel doesn’t require you to be an established writer.
Personally I hated journaling but once I became unemployed something magically happened I lost all my friends and found myself left with only two friends. I was glad they stayed but they didn’t have that much time on them because they had busy schedules at their jobs.
So when my friends where busy all day instead of getting suicidal or jealous or abusive I turned to my journal to balance out my emotional burden (which by the way was huge) and the feeling I got was amazing.
Even though the world felt like it was closing in, I had one last person I could talk to and feel secure, no judgment at all. That was my journal.
Quit Social Media: I made a decision to quit social media because somehow I found it was the source of my depression. When you are unemployed it is so hard to keep up with social media where your friends are posting pictures of their new cars, houses, children and husbands; your life can start to feel like a slog.
Everyone else will post rosy things about themselves and you! What do you have to show….? I quit Whatsapp, Viber, Talk, Line and Facebook. At first it was hard because I was fully imbibed into it. But after the first 3 weeks I managed to get away for 8 months until I created this blog.
While off social media my journaling improved and instead of my one line writings every day I started writing full pages of what I was feeling and what I learned from my experiences and feelings.
The journal helped me heal a lot and within 5 months I had written down enough content to start a blog which I later did after 8 months.
Exercise your damn freaken body: I don’t know how much I can emphasize this but 99.9% of surviving unemployment for me was exercise. There were days I would have turned to drugs, alcohol and sex abuse but somehow when I went out there to jog, my mind got rewired and I increased my endorphins so I feed the need to feel good which made it hard for any abusive habits to thrive.
I wish my mind could illustrate this point for you but here it is, even to this day when I don’t head out to jog or do some yoga I can easily get depressed. Since as a freelancer I’m a constant job seeker so it is so easy for me to get depressed when the clients aren’t coming in, delay in payment or even the fact that I work alone for long hours can attach a depressed emotion in my mind.
So exercise is key for me in fact when I’m charging my clients for the content I write for them I include some jogging fees or yoga fees because my body gets beat hard to deliver that amazing content they like.
What am saying here is if you are scared of getting stared at while jogging then buy a rope and skip rope, jump up and down in the compound, breathe in and out. Please!! Just do some work out on your body? Please!! You won’t regret it.
Read as much as your mind can consume: Most young people don’t like reading and some say most Africans don’t like reading. This is so funny. Most of you say you can think outside the box in your resumes, you say you take personal initiative in your resumes but when it comes to the actual doing you can’t even take personal initiative when it comes to reading a 200 page book.
So much for taking initiative huh!! Anyway this is the advice I give most people and I have taken it myself, it goes like this…every time you get scared pick up a book and read escape your reality and get lost in the possibilities of another person’s imaginations.
My fastest way of fighting against worry is to keep my mind busy, I tried watching movies but the problem with them they send visual messages to the brain so they can reactivate it into its past state but with a book the mind is opened to the writer’s descriptions.
That helps put the mind to work, draw mental pictures of what the writer put on paper which helps create new possibilities in the mind hence bringing forth a positive image. So anytime you get scared pick up a book and read.
You never know your subject of choice is asked about in the next job interview you’ll go for and you’ll be just the man or woman for the job with the knowledge.
Create a Job for yourself around the house: This is one of those classy crazy ideas. Oh yes but for 8 months I made my mother pay me for the household maintenance and cooking. Oh no you didn’t!! Yes I did!
I had run out of money, I was desperate and depressed. I needed support financially and that depressed me because I didn’t really know how to depend on anyone financially. I wanted to have my own money.
I decided to come up with a plan on how to get some money so I wrote my mother a proposal she couldn’t refuse. I was to clean the compound, wash dishes, clean the house, plan meals and do shopping.
Trust me she was elated when she saw my plan because she was always tired and lazy to go to the market after work, I offered and she paid handsomely. I wrote another proposal for my sister to wash, clean and shop groceries for her to last her a week and I did it once a week. She also paid me handsomely for that.
With my combined efforts I was earning 200,000/= per month from both households. That made some logical sense and I expanded my planning talent into writing and so far I haven’t been helpless.
With that activity in my life I started rebuilding my confidence because somehow, I was contributing something to my family even if it wasn’t in monetary terms. I felt respected by members of my family because they depended on me to pull off meals, to keep the house clean and I bought them everything they needed.
When the money started coming in it wasn’t that desperate anymore. So if you are tired of waiting for that job, may be its time to leverage the available jobs or maybe you can create your own sources of income as you keep applying for that job.
This is an except from my upcoming book, how I survived unemployment.
You can share with me what techniques you are using to stay motivated while you look for that job