For the long-term unemployed, aid and comfort from the people around you are essential. You need their connections, their insights, and maybe even their financial assistance. But don’t expect them to understand your situation in the same way you understand it. This can be good but could just as easily be frustrating and emotionally draining. As I’ve said in other posts, you will be put in the situation of trying to understand where they are coming from, pulling out what good you can, and not be beaten down by advice that might seem flippant or callous. Their viewpoints are shaped by their past, not your present.
As I deal with the constant heavy, helping hand I see two things. First, in the negative, I see people not trying to understand my particular circumstances. I do have a unique unemployment situation which may have certain generalities to fit a common picture but I also have an unusual skill set and work history that need to be dealt with as well. And despite my desire to have people get to know me a bit before dispensing employment medicine, I find that no one is really interested in my present.
Secondly, the advice and help I keep getting is based on the beneficiaries’ own past experiences. They tell me what they did when unemployed. Unemployed yes but 20 years ago in a completely different economic environment. Or maybe that their industry is growing in leaps and bounds. An industry that is highly specialized and requires years of training and certification. Things that I don’t possess and in my 50’s will not be getting. Or maybe when they were unemployed they took a fast food job or bagged groceries so why am I too proud to do what they did. Of course they did that when they were in their 20’s and single. Etc. That’s nice but that’s your past not my present.
If you want to help me then brainstorm with me. Listen to me about me before you get too wound up about you. Keep your ears open as you go through your day in case some possibility for me drops into your lap. Don’t call me negative or self-centered if I keep trying to refocus you off of your past and into my present. And if you don’t have the time, energy, or interest to do these things then please pray for me and keep silent. Remember my unemployment is about me not you.
This is one of my fundamentals of unemployment.