I just spent my morning on the phone with unemployment. It turns out that you have to re-file your claim after a year, even though the unemployment homepage and help-line both imply otherwise. What you actually have to do is sit on the phone talking to an automated system for hours screaming “yes” or “no” into the phone until it eventually cuts out on you and you have to start the whole thing over again. If you’ve never collected unemployment, this probably seems pretty confusing—well, it is. Thankfully, after a whole morning on the phone I’ve been assured I’ll still have money to pay my rent and buy some food soon, so that’s good.
Yes, I’m unemployed and I’m getting married in two months. My parents are paying for most of our wedding (which makes me incredibly lucky and eternally grateful), but I’d always planned to be able to contribute something, and to pay for all the little details for myself too, but that’s become nearly impossible. I’m not saying “oh poor little unemployed me”, what I’m saying is that in this economy everyone is learning that you can’t just put your life on hold until things get better. Getting married while unemployed, might seem irresponsible to some, but spending your life saying “I’ll just wait until I get a job before I (insert life event here)” gets old fast. I personally think we have way too little time on this planet to keep putting things off like that, especially when the job market doesn’t seem to be getting better—especially if you’re in a creative field like me.
I’m not alone in being an unemployed bride, I’ve heard of dozens of others, and I’m sure people might think we’re crazy or impractical. I wasn’t unemployed when I got engaged, but you know, life has a funny sense of humor sometimes. Being unemployed has given me more time to focus on wedding plans, but it has also given me far less dispensable income to spend on it—leading to many panic attacks. We’re not having a crazy expensive wedding, we’re cutting costs wherever we can, and it’s hard. It makes thing far more stressful, I’m sure of it. I can’t help but believe that brides with more money have less sleepless nights worrying over things, not just bills, but also stresses that could be cut out by throwing cash in the right places.
Being unemployed means feeling guilty all the time. Guilty for not having a job, guilty for not having money, guilty for spending any money, guilty for feeling sorry for yourself, and right now I’m feeling guilty for even writing about this, because I know how many millions of people are so much worse off than me. I worked for three years at a large company, I haven’t found work anywhere else. I rarely ever go out to eat or go shopping anymore. If I do it’s at Costco, or Target, or the drugstore. Being unemployed isn’t a ticket for fun, nor is it a free pass to slack, it’s limbo, and trying to plan one of the biggest events in your life while you have no idea what’s going to happen in your financial future, can be pretty damn stressful. I haven’t spent my summer being carefree and living it up, I’ve spent it trying to stay as busy as possible to keep my mind off the worry that plagues me, which includes writing this blog, and maintaining my etsy shop, but more on that tomorrow.
We all have events that haunt us from the future, teeming with uncertainty. Maybe it’s a job interview, or going away to college, or moving, but it’s a constant. For most of my life (especially the last year while I’ve been living in permanent panic) there is always something brewing stress. I keep waiting for the calm, thinking, “once I just get past this” but one thing I’ve learned is that it never stops. It seems silly to put so much pressure on this one day, this one day that will fly by just as fast as all the others in my life, it’s illogical to put that much weight on anything. We strive for perfection on a daily basis in this country, so much so that sometimes we miss true perfection along the way. I’ve barely been to the beach all summer, obviously that’s no tragedy, but with labor day weekend signaling the end of the season this weekend, I realize how much I regret not allowing any time to relax. This is a time in my life where I should be endlessly and unabashedly happy. I’m a “bride-to-be”, it should be all magical perfection and cooing sweetness. That’s what the movies and magazines tell me, but for me, and I’m sure countless other men and women, it’s a time of intense pressure, stress, and self-reproach for being so bold as to enjoy your life while jobless.
I want to enjoy these last two months before my wedding. I want to push past the guilt and stress and go for a walk on the beach with my fiancé without panicking that I should be doing something “more important”. Because really what’s the point of living if spending time with the people you love ends up on the bottom of the pile? I may be unemployed, but I’m still a person, I may be in limbo, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get to live, and I may be unsure of the future, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t enjoy my present.