As of yesterday, I am officially unemployed. For the first time in fourteen years, with the exception of about 3 weeks seven years ago, I don’t have a job.
Yesterday, I applied for unemployment, and today, for food stamps.
The process itself for both was quite painless. I did the unemployment online, and the lady I spoke with at the DHS office was very nice. That’s not what I am speaking about.
What makes me feel humiliated is by applying for these services I have in essence admitted that I am unable to provide for my family. In our society today, we are defined by what we do. If we are unemployed, we “have nothing to do.” Actually, I do have something to do. That is find a new job that will enable me to support my family as soon as possible.
I did this not out of choice, but out of necessity. I will do what is necessary to ensure that my family always have a safe, warm place to sleep and food in their mouths. If keeping my family safe meant I would have to go sleep under a bridge again, I would not hesitate to walk out that door, no matter if the temperature is 70 or 17 degrees.
My head tells me that “I’m doing the right thing.” I have paid my taxes to support this system, and when through no fault of my own, I am now in a position where I need these services, and to refuse them at this point in time would supplicate my pride while hurting, not helping my family.
My heart says, “You are a failure.” My pride says that I should not surrender my ability to provide to those in power.
Luckily, I am a person who acts on my thoughts, not reacts to my emotions. The difference between me and those like me versus those who are perpetually on food stamps is that I refuse to be on these services one femtosecond (that’s one quadrillionth of a second) longer than necessary.
Right now, it is my mission, my purpose, my reason to exist, is to obtain employment and support my family. Nothing will stop me from achieving that goal.