Dole Life

It is 22.42. I’m frustrated, jobless and skint.

But, I do realise just how bloody lucky I am. I’m here. In this house. With a hot drink and a bed and a heater. With food in the cupboards and a washing machine and a key in the door. I appreciate every single thing I have. Honestly, I do. I’m talking about this whole job/money situation because it’s a position that many of us have encountered, or are living through at the moment. I have to say that sometimes, no, more than sometimes I feel useless. I feel demoralised. I feel sad. Really, really sad. When you are on the dole for a long time, anxiety starts to creep into your bones like a cancer. You wonder; ‘what’s wrong with me?’ ‘what am I missing that everybody else has got?’ and ‘will I ever get a bloody job?’ I try and stay optimistic and smile and scroll. But sometimes, it’s just really hard.

I’ve applied for umpteen jobs in the past months and nowt. Nothing has come from any of them. Employers probably looked at my Facebook page and thought weirdo, not for us. My Mum is always telling me to ‘tone down’ my appearance on the internet. ‘Tone down’ the words I use and ‘tone down’ whatever else I illustrate to the world. I say no. Maybe this has been the reason I haven’t got a job yet? If it is, a lot of employers are shallower than I thought.

I’m writing like a maniac. Then editing like a professional – slowly and properly. I believe I’m using my time as an unemployed person suitably. I make a list every single day of things I need to get done, and I almost always complete the list. If I don’t, it goes on the list for the next day. I know that all the hard work I put into my writing and editing and writing and publishing and writing will one day pay off when I finally become a full-time writer, able to pay my way from words I put together nicely on a page. And a host of other things. (Being a full-time writer means being 100% involved in the world of literature. 100% committed to teaching others and furthering your personal learning. It’s about staying up until 6am, furiously typing or editing or reading. It’s about having continuous enthusiasm for what you do. It’s about reading everything and anything all the time. It’s about jumping into something and giving it all you’ve got. It’s about accepting you will still be rejected repeatedly. It’s about accepting you will need to reject. It’s about being massively motivated and able to live on discounted hummus and crackers for a week. It’s about all these things and so much, much more.)

But I need a job that brings me some money, now. I want to be able to buy a train ticket to see my boyfriend, without worrying I’m going to go overdrawn. I’d like to be able to buy a new pair of socks and a bottle of elderflower cordial. I’d like to be able to put some coppers away for a trip to Canada and get some new glasses.

I haven’t been this broke since I was sixteen and had my first job. I don’t like the insecurity. I don’t like the worry of not being able to pay for the rent or the gas and electric or the water or blah blah blah blah blah. You know where I’m coming from, right? Right. Money is a bastard, but it’s quite good to have on the side so you can get all the bills and shit out of the way, no problem, and concentrate on other, more important things, like living well.

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