Being unemployed is knowing the anguish that comes from not having the certainty of knowing if you will be able to pay for rent. The last nine months that was my situation. In August of last year, due to budget issues, my contract with the NGO I worked for finished. With that, the most challenging phases of my time in Australia (so far) began: unemployment.
How do you survive 9 months without work in this country? Killing your ego. This time showed me how arrogant I can be. When I stopped working at the NGO, the first thing I thought was: “It’s okay: I have a master’s degree, I have experience and I have a lot of connections in the city where I live … They’re going to fight to hire me!” LOL! What a fool! Of course, NO ONE fought to hire me.
The first few months were not so difficult: I had savings, I was teaching enough Spanish classes to get enough income to pay the rent and the Australian government paid me a good amount of money from my tax return. Managing that money was easy (since I was a child I’m good at organising expenses), and also Marky-Mark supported me by doing grocery shopping for both of us. However, I was in a lot of conflict knowing that Mark was “taking care” of me. All my life I had seen myself as a self-sufficient person and it was very painful to witness myself, at the age of 31 years old, being taking care of by someone else.
But unemployment was here to teach me to ask for help. For me, asking for help was a sign of weakness, I related it to being vulnerable and it scared me. But I reached a point where my savings began to end, my Spanish students went on holidays and my conscience reminded me that Mark is my boyfriend and not my dad. So I had to swallow my pride and ask for help to find a job.
At first, asking for help was very difficult: it made me feel unsuccessful and I felt sorry for myself. But once I changed my attitude things changed: a friend hired me to sand and varnish the windows of her house; another friend invited me to wash dishes in her café; a friend paid me to take care and water his garden while on vacation; a teacher offered to check my CV and my job applications; the local government hired me to help them at a cultural festival, and I even got a job at a petrol station during weekends (I’ll tell you about that adventure in another post).
Once I put my ego away everything began to flow. The little snowball became bigger and bigger until I got a full time job related to what has become my passion: community development and engagement.
Through unemployment I learned that asking for and accepting help is a way of honouring those who care about me. In those months, many people extended their hand to me in a disinterested way and with the best of intentions. The first few times it took me a lot of work to accept the help they were offering; but today I know that those who reach out to me in difficult times are those who, in their hearts, know that I will have an extended hand for them when they face adversity.
Thank you for all the support, my dear Aussie friends!