Posted by: Jennifer | November 14, 2006

turning my back on helping hands

I hate telling people that I am out of work. It always seems to bring about uncomfortable statements and silences, and it always makes me regret saying anything in the first place.

It’s something that has to be said. People ask me how work is going, or if I am at the library because I have the day off, or if I am still working. I can’t lie. I have to tell them the truth and reveal that I have been laid off. But then the statements and questions and “help” start and that just makes things worse.

The one thing that makes me the most uncomfortable is when people let me know about available jobs. I am grateful to everyone in my life who tries to help me by providing me with information about open positions. But it is so hard to turn these jobs down without making it sound like I’m putting my friends down.

I went to college for three years. I have two honors diplomas in my field, a field that I have been establishing experience in for the last three years. I want to work in that field. I want to be a bookkeeper, or an accounting clerk. I want to do work that I feel good about, that I feel confident in doing.

I do not want to work as a crossing guard, or at the airport. I do not want to apply for a position as a cashier at a grocery store, or work as a retail clerk at the mall. Working at the movie theater does not appeal to me, nor does the thought of answering phones at a call centre. But how do I say that? How do I tell these thoughtful people, these people who are only trying to make things better for me, that I have no desire to even consider looking into their helpful advice.

It’s not that I think that they are below me, or that the position is below me. It’s just not what I want with my life. I am not that desperate for work that I have to start looking outside of my field. It took a long time for me to determine the career path that I felt would make me the happiest, and I am not ready to abandon that yet.

So, whenever someone is kind enough to mention that their cousin works at an office that is hiring, or that they heard about a position opening up at a grocery store or at Tim Horton’s, I simply smile, and I nod, and I thank them for thinking of me. And then, when they have walked away, I put that thought out of my mind, and when I get home I look up job postings for Accounting/Finance clerks. I don’t know what else to do.

There’s more to being off work than just being unemployed.



  1. I know exactly how you are feeling…sort of. During the summer my employer advised us that out department was going to be closing down. For the next few months I told everyone that I was about to be laid off and got a lot of “Try this company. They are hiring”.
    What I ended up doing in the end was letting my friends know that my department was being shut down but I have been exploring some great opportunities in other industries. This put a positive spin on the situation which let me move on with the conversation. Give it a try and see if it works out for you.

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