I’ve been in bed since 10:20pm. Between then and now I wrote a cover letter and applied for a job, then tried sleeping. It refuses to happen. According to Gmail, where I received a confirmation email from the company after I submitted my application, I finished at 11:34pm.

Seeing how it’s 1:04am now, that means I tried to sleep for an hour and a half, to no avail. I’m sleepy, my eyes warm with the urge to stay closed, but I toss and turn. Left side, right side; on my stomach with my legs in marathon-runner position; arms under the pillows, on top of, hanging off the edge of the bed.

It doesn’t come. I blame myself. Earlier, I ate and drank what I knew would keep me awake so I could work on some applications. When I decided to quit after just one, I thought I could handle the caffeine searing through my system, and I lay down, in a state I would describe as “extremely tired”.

And then my mind started its gymnastics, leaping over thoughts and tumbling through every idea.

Me: “I’m tired. Calm down.”
Brain: “THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS. What was that noise? Feelings! Overthinking.”
Body: “I’m cold. This position is uncomfortable.”
Me: “Quit staring out the window. Fall asleep, please.”
Body: “I’m hot.”

This is the idiocy I’m facing right now. It’s 1:13am. Nine minutes, and all I’ve typed is absolute nonsense.

Under normal circumstances, I’d be dreading tomorrow because it would start in less than five hours, as I would be crawling into the shower and getting ready for work. In Unemploymentville, there’s a different dread. It’s the dread of waking up and having no purpose. I’ll wake up, carry my phone and laptop downstairs and, after checking various sites, face down the job applications for the day.

People who haven’t ever visited Unemploymentville are a little in the dark about what it’s actually like here. Imagine showing up for a class every day, putting forth a ton of effort, and failing the class. You spend hours on assignments, but you fail. After a while, it’s all you can do to keep going; it all feels like a waste of effort.

I’m applying to jobs for which I’m fully qualified. I study company sites and make sure they know why I want to work there. I include facts and figures and references. If I want a good job, I need to put in the effort in my application. There are 36 unique cover letters on my computer, and those don’t include several more letters written online, instead of in Word.

Trust me: I’m trying.

Being unemployed doesn’t mean I’m lazy. It doesn’t mean I’m weak, underqualified, undereducated, or unworthy. It doesn’t mean I’m not trying hard enough. I get the feeling sometimes that people who have never been unemployed think it’s a matter of not wanting it enough. I hope they never have to go through what I’m going through. It would be nice if they could “get it”, though.

I’ll be fine. It’ll happen. I took a risk in moving back to the States without a job, and I don’t regret it. That said, it’s been scarier moving back than it was to move abroad. I’m home-of-my-ownless, gratefully filling guest rooms at friends’ houses for weeks at a time. My savings from Taiwan are slowly draining.

This “time off” isn’t relaxing or fun. I’m not able to focus on myself or do much beyond think about how I’m going to make it past this month, then through November.

Unemployment is lonely. It’s rejection after rejection and hours of time alone working on job applications. First, I was the weirdo because I lived in Taiwan for two years, so my thought processes are a little different now. Now, I’m an even bigger weirdo because I’m also unemployed. Very few people understand one or the other. Fewer still understand both. It’s ostracizing.

It’s being awake at 1:35am, knowing that the only item on the docket after I finally do fall asleep, then wake up late tomorrow morning, is job applications.


Still wide awake. Maybe I’ll write another cover letter now.