A couple of days ago, a friend posted a link to a Gawker story on her Facebook page, calling it “the most depressing article ever written.” The story was about the effects of long term unemployment, and how the longer people are unemployed, the more “unemployable” they become. (You can see the story here)
Both in the story and in the comments, we hear from people who have been out of work for months and months; they tell about the depression, the shame, how they avoid their friends.
And my heart is heavy for those people. In no way do I mean to diminish the difficulties they’re going through – in fact, some of the writers sound as if they are suffering from bona fide depression and should maybe seek medical help.
The thing is, I understand their pain, I really do – because I was in their shoes.
But instead of letting it beat me down, I did something about it.
I went to work for myself.
Unemployment benefits are nice… but I didn’t even have those. It was up to me to take care of myself and my family, so that’s what I did. (And to be clear, I am NOT against unemployment benefits, I think they’re a wonderful thing to help people out until they can get back on their feet again)
But no one in the world owes me a living – not the government, not a job, not a boss. I’m a big believer of taking matters into my own hands and solving my problems myself.
So I did a couple of things. First, I started tutoring English in my home.
Then, I went to the internet and started looking for things I could do. I’m a pretty decent writer, so I found freelance jobs writing articles for other people.
It didn’t take long before I was making enough to keep my family afloat.
No matter what your skills, there are bound to be things you can do, too.
I recently read a story of a woman who started a consignment shop – she borrowed $400 to rent a cheap store front, and then let all her friends know she would like to resell their high end clothing for them – no need to buy merchandise to stock your store!
If you have any computer skills, you can sell them on Fiverr.com or any one of the similar sites.
Open a daycare in your home, or if you don’t like kids, start a pet-sitting service.
Take a good look at your skills – can you plan events? throw great parties? decorate cakes? Put out some ads, start a website and tell people.
Can you play the guitar? Start giving lessons!
Need money fast to get a business started? Have a garage sale, or put your stuff up on eBay – sell everything that’s not vital to your existence.
My sister-in-law lost her job as an accounts payable officer in a medical office – in less than a month, she started a home business using those same skills, with a variety of offices as clients.
As I read that story in Gawker, I couldn’t help but feel that if those people had spent as much effort in starting up their own business as they had trying to find a job working for someone else, they’d be in MUCH better situations right now.
Working for yourself is a kind of freedom. You no longer depend on the whims of a boss. No one else gets to determine the value of your time. No one else gets to tell you when you can take vacations. (Or if you work in a factory like I did at one point… no one gets to tell you when and how often you’re allowed to go pee!)