The Upside of Down (Economic Crisis)

Like many people out there, when the economy took a nose dive so did my plans and my finances.  I found myself with a hard-won degree and a year’s experience at a newspaper,  working as a sales assistant in a Goodwill store.  It was almost like all that hard work meant nothing.

I stuck it out for over a year, living back with my parents, searching desperately for a better job as my creditors besieged me and my students loan gathered more and more interest. I may have been able to get a decent job had I moved to a big city like New York. The problem, however, was that I wouldn’t be able to afford to live in a place like that with only a ‘decent’ job.

I decided on a drastic plan. I am a dual citizen so, with the extent of public transport and a slew of family contacts, I figured that I would have better luck finding a job in the U.K. After all, I wouldn’t actually  have to live in a big city to be employed in one; I could just take a bus, a train, or the subway.

So I scrimped and saved, sold my car, prepared my animals (yes they came with me), and took a ship to Britain.

Five months later and I’m still unemployed, picking up a little freelance work, scraping to get by, volunteering my services, and diligently searching for a job. I am living in Edinburgh, Scotland, which is a big city, and there are many more jobs available. Unfortunately, there are many more people as well and the economy was hit just as hard as in the States. For every job I apply to there are 200 other applicants.

This really could get me down and, don’t get me wrong, there are times when it does. I have found, however, that there has been an unexpected benefit to unemployment; I have time.

Now, I don’t mean that I sleep in, do what I want, laze the day away; far from it. I spend a portion of every day searching for and applying to jobs and sending off CVs and follow-ups.

The rest of my day I devote to my writing. While I worked I was lucky to manage four or five hours a week. Now, there are times when I can write for that many hours in just one day. In a good week I can do five or six thousands words.

I have, in fact, just finished the first draft of my second novel!!! In much less time that it took to write my first.

Don’t get me wrong, it would be great to have financial security, to have the money for a vacation, or even a few little extras once in awhile. For this reason, I will continue to search for and hope for a job, but for now I found a silver lining.

And, who knows, perhaps one of my novels will be published and I can finally have a career doing what I love.

If anyone who reads this has had the same sort of experience — whether it’s the chance to write, finding joy in volunteering, or growing closer to your family or your community — I would love to hear about it.

 

Rose Connelly

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