Unemployment. You are not your job.

Right now many, many people are dealing with the trauma of themselves or loved ones falling ill and some not making it.  To add to the stress, millions of people are now unemployed – thrown from their jobs nearly overnight. And none of us know what tomorrow will bring. 

If you’re one of the people who now finds themself without a job, please remember that you are not alone.  Losing your job can be a serious shock to your system, so you need to acknowledge what’s happened and take care of yourself.  

Diane Hatz on coping with unemployment

First, you must allow yourself time to grieve.  You’ll go through the five stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and then acceptance.  So many of us build our identity around our jobs that you might struggle. Try to remember – and it really is true – you are not your job.

Remember, though, that there’s a difference between grieving and numbing out and taking care of yourself.  So binge watch Netflix for a few days but put a limit on it. Then get up off the couch and take action.

The first thing you can do is file for unemployment.  I had just signed a contract to, well, put on events! I’m excited about where we might go with this in our new world but also nervous like so many other people because no one will invest in or fund events right now.  Bottom line, I am one of the unemployed.  

Each state is different, but filing in New York has been nothing short of a nightmare.  After three days of trying to apply online, my application went through, and then I found out I have to phone to complete the process.  After an additional three days of phoning and not getting through, I decided to put it all on hold for a bit – my sanity is more important.  If this is happening to you, just know that when you do file, your claim will be retroactive to your unemployment date. 

If you are now without healthcare and are unemployed, check to see if you qualify for Medicaid.  I was unemployed for a bit between leaving an organization and starting my company, and when I went to the unemployment office, a healthcare representative put me on Medicaid.  

I know that here in New York City, there are multiple efforts to provide food for residents.  Not only can schoolchildren find food, all New York City residents can now pick up three meals a day from over 400 hubs in the five boroughs.  In addition, restaurants all over are cooking meals for medical professionals and for their neighborhood. One of the top vegan restaurants in the city (which happens to be around the block from me) is offering free meals five days a week, and, well, I just might be stopping by tomorrow.  

For many people, receiving something is harder than giving.  I know it used to be that way for me. But once I started practicing gratitude, and once I started accepting help, my whole outlook on life expanded into something more humbling and more beautiful.  Try it – you’ll understand.

If you’re hungry and need help, and you don’t know where to go, contact a local city or state official.  You can find out who they are on the government’s USA.gov site.  

At first I was going to say no but ended up enrolling, and what a godsend it’s been.  Do not be ashamed if you go on Medicaid or SNAP (food stamps) or any other type of public assistance.  You’ve probably paid taxes for years – or decades! – those programs are there as a safety net when one needs help transitioning from one job to the next adventure.  Take advantage of them if you need help.

Remember to take care of yourself.  Some tips:

  • Keep a routine – like showering.  I know! It’s so obvious and seems so simple – but there are many smelly people sitting in their homes and apartments right now.  Have that morning cup of coffee you usually have before you went to work. If it helps, sit down and write out a daily routine. It will help.
  • Exercise.  Okay, I have to admit, I’ve been horrible at this.  It’s so much easier to sit on the couch and zoom with friends.  This morning I put on a playlist of music that makes me get up and dance – and what a difference it made.  You don’t need to do a marathon or high aerobic dance routine – just get up and move. You will feel so much better.
  • And the most important thing to remember is – You are Enough.
    • You are NOT your job.
    • You are NOT your salary.
    • You are NOT your Instagram and Facebook likes.

I’m going to say it again:

  • You are NOT your job.
  • You are NOT your salary.
  • You are NOT your social media likes.

I struggle with this myself so understand. You must keep telling yourself that You Are Enough simply because you are you – there is no one else who can be you.  We’ve been made to feel that all this stuff outside of us – how we dress, what car we drive, what countries we’ve visited, what our job is – that all of that is important. And it is not.  So much of our stress and anxiety come from things we think we should be.  

You don’t need to Be anything because you already Are.  You are enough just by being born. There is nothing else you need to do to be worthwhile and counted. 

Remember to take care of yourself:

  • Breathe
  • Meditate
  • And Remember – You Are Enough

Everything else is bullshit. Take good care.