I am not unemployed. I am “between jobs”, “still looking”, “settling into my new home“, but never unemployed. On drop-down menus I select ‘housewife’ because technically that’s what I am right now. If I get the option to type something in, then I type ‘psychology graduate’, because that at least speaks to my accomplishments. It’s been 2 months since I last held a job, but not once have I actively referred to myself as ‘unemployed’ – I can’t bring myself to.
Society as a whole tends to define individuals by what they do for a living. When you meet someone new, the first thing you tend to ask after you get their name is “What do you do?”. By giving “unemployed” as my answer to what I do, it would imply that I am, in the eyes of society, nothing… I am not nothing. I worked hard for 3 years to get my psychology degree. I have engaged myself in countless extra-curricular activities, dedicated hours to improving my skills, and worked hard to become a decent and moral human being. So I don’t think it would be fair to be considered as nothing, simply because I don’t have a job right now.
The word ‘unemployed’ is a dirty word. It conjures up images of some lazy scrounger who’s never worked a day in their life, and doesn’t want to, and yet for the vast majority of unemployed people, that’s simply not true. Nor is education or lack of it necessarily an indicator of employment success, as many graduates end up taking menial roles, or even not finding a job at all.
Everyone is always so supportive about my situation. They tell me “you’ll find something soon”, “your perfect job is just around the corner”, but after 2 months of hearing this, it’s getting harder and harder to believe it. At this point I don’t even care about finding my perfect job, I just want a job that I can do well. I am hard-working, I’m educated, I’m organised, I have great attention to detail, and I fulfil all those other buzzwords that employers love, but I lack the one thing they value above all else – experience. I just need one person to give me a chance, and I know I can shine, but I can’t seem to find anything, no matter how hard I try. It doesn’t matter that much to me whether I like my job, as long as I’m good at it. For me, success is my biggest motivator, so as long as I’m working my absolute hardest, then I can be satisfied. As a teenager I briefly held a job in a factory, and it was the most mind-numbingly boring experience of my life, but I still tried my hardest. I was building boxes so fast that the entire conveyor belt line was struggling to keep up with me; the supervisor came over to ask how long I’d been working in a factory, and she was shocked when I answered that it was my first day. I can cope with boredom, I can cope with anything if it means having a job.
I’m not a cynical person, and even though you hear all those horror stories about racist employers, I try to believe that my name isn’t part of the reason I’m not getting hired. However, I do sometimes wonder what would happen if instead of proudly reading ‘Melika Jeddi’ at the top of my resume, it instead projected a stereotypical British name like ‘Rachel Smith’ or ‘Claire Williams’. I know my CV is decent; I went to CV building workshops, and even got it checked by a career advice specialist. On paper, I should be pretty darn employable, and yet company after company keeps ignoring me. It’s frustrating, and each application that goes unanswered slowly chips away at my confidence. I’ve found myself battling with depression (a common theme amongst those seeking jobs), and fighting hard to keep my head afloat despite the constant dejection.
It’s such a taboo topic, nobody really wants to talk about it. They’ll give you encouragement and positivity, but when it comes down to the cold, hard fact of the matter, then sorry kid, but you’re on your own. So, like I said at the start – I’m not unemployed.