Thoughts on Unemployment

So I’ve been unemployed for nearly two months. I never anticipated going this length of time without a job, since I have been able to get whatever job I applied for in the past. Been a little naive, I have. I’ve had a variety of jobs, and until now was just able to go get one. Like picking an apple off a tree. Fish in a barrel. You get the picture. However, St. Louis is just saturated with attorneys looking for jobs. And law firms aren’t making the profits this year, so they aren’t hiring. Hopefully, this will turn around at the start of the year. Fortunately, we are doing fine financially. I can’t imagine how incredibly stressful it would be to have to make decisions as to whether we were going to eat or get medical care or pay the mortgage.

This period of unemployment has drastically affected the way I view the health of our economy, and more specifically, our future financial security. I don’t think our generation will be as prosperous as the baby boomers. In fact, I believe we will struggle greatly compared to our parents. According to a news paper article this weekend, 350,000 people in the St. Louis area depend on food banks to eat. In the past year or so, they’ve started seeing people with advanced degrees coming to the food bank. This does not bode well for the rest of us.

The other day, I was thinking back to the period of time between the completion of my bachelor’s and my entrance into law school. I wanted to go back to school. I wanted an advanced degree, but I couldn’t decide on what, exactly, I wanted to do. Law school had not entered my thought process until Chris mentioned it one day. I think I said, “No way – there’s no way I could be an attorney.” But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I really wanted to go get a master’s in English Lit, but what good would that do me? I could teach, I guess. Converse intelligently at parties and reference obscure authors while making great literary comparisons? Sure. But I started thinking – a law degree is something concrete – I could always get a job as an attorney. I could say, “I’m an attorney.” That’s specific. If I got an English degree – that seemed more vague – I could say, “I’m an English major” – but what would I do with an English degree besides being well read?

So I thought I’d try for a law degree. It seemed to offer me something concrete – something I could do that would provide for my family if something (God forbid) ever happened and I needed to support us. Could I do that with a masters in English Lit? I was doubtful.

I completed law school. Interned my way into a job in our small Oklahoma town. We moved to Missouri, I took and passed (!) the Missouri bar and fell into a job here. Two years later, I’m now looking for a job. And you know what positions are being advertised in surprisingly large number? English professors. Ha!

Now I’m thinking – I should have done the English degree. Or engineering. I’ve been told that if you’re a female and an engineer, you can go just about anywhere you want. Or computers. Web design. Publishing. However, I know nothing about that. I’m still trying to figure out Facebook and WordPress. I’m going to keep looking for a way to use my very expensive law degree, but I just thought it was funny how carefully I debated this decision about my education and career, only to find that it really didn’t matter in the end. Best laid plans, right?

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2 Responses

  1. You are being too hard on yourself! If you and Chris aren’t hurt financially, you need to ENJOY this time. Maybe you needed a mental vacation? Maybe you need to be patient so that incredible job will open up? I know that your degree wasn’t in vain. I am a great believer in what’s meant to be is meant to be. You were meant to be an attorney for some great reason. I guess you are still waiting to find out! 🙂 From one professional to another, hang in there!

  2. I feel your pain. Just over a year ago I got laid off from my job. This just two months after they promoted me. Course then about 4 months later the whole company went belly up, so I don’t feel too bad.

    I’ve essentially been unemployed since (no not completely for I did some work at HR Block during tax season, and filled in for a guy getting back surgery at the center for behavioral health, etc. but it was still a lot of no work and wondering what the heck I was doing.)

    It stinks. It makes you feel worthless. It gets better I think. I hope anyways.

    At least it can make for some good blogging 🙂

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