Day 206: Still Unemployed and The Truth About Unemployment Extensions

October 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Today is Wednesday, October 26th, and I have now been unemployed 206 days. Earlier this month I exhausted my original 25 weeks of unemployment benefits. Congress has failed to vote in another extension, so I am now drawing on my last 20 weeks of “emergency” benefits. In order to qualify for these benefits, I could wait until Richmond mailed me an application, or I could go into my local VEC office and turn in the form and then wait for it to be processed. So I drove the 35 miles to the local office, waited 45 minutes for a rep to see me, answered 10 yes/no questions and then she sent the form to Richmond for processing. I have to wonder why, since I can submit my job contacts online each week, and why, since I can apply for unemployment benefits online, why can’t I apply for the extension online as well? I combined the trip with applying for two jobs that day, to save on gas, but this was really a waste of my time and money, when it should have been made available to me online.

I’ve been sending resumes out, but still no job offers. Without an extension, I will run out of benefits mid-February, as will about 3 million other Americans. I really don’t want to have to resort to flipping hamburgers at the age of 43, but it is starting to look like a real possibility.

I have had some success with freelancing for Yahoo, but the pay has been so small they haven’t even reduced my unemployment benefits when I turned in my self-employment work on the form. Basically, you can submit articles that you write for exclusive, up-front payment. Payment ranges from $2 to $4 per article that they accept this way. If you are lucky, as I was, they may offer you a beat on a limited topic. I was assigned a real estate, personal finance beat, and I can submit up to three articles a week under this topic, and if they accept the articles its $10 per article. I also earn performance pay based on the number of views on each article. If your articles are declined for upfront exclusive payment, you can submit under display only. You don’t get paid upfront for these, but you earn performance pay based on views. In two months I’ve earned a whopping $93 for 16 articles. If I spent more time writing, I might be able to double or triple that number and earn a bit more pocket change, but it appears that is what it is at this point, pocket change. Still, that extra bit has helped cover a couple of small, expected emergencies, and I am thankful, and it does give me something to put on my resume and helps me to not feel quite so depressed and worthless. If you are curious, here is a link to my profile for Yahoo! US Finance and some of my articles. You have to search by site, choosing Yahoo! US Finance and Associated Content separately to see all of my articles: http://contributor.yahoo.com/user/1155233/lyn_brooks.html?site_id=388

At this point, dealing with feelings of depression and uselessness are still the hardest things to cope with while being unemployed. When you have a job, like it or not, that is how our society defines us for ourselves, but is that what we really are? Are we really our job, or our location, where we live, or our name or our appearance, our skins? Or are we something more, are we something on the inside that defies definition by mere words and numbers? Being unemployed in some ways is as much of a blessing as it is a curse, because when you don’t have the title of your job to throw out to people as your identity, you are forced to ask yourself, who am I? This is a question few of us ever ask ourselves. From the time we are born, everyone is always telling us who we are, based on our position in our own families, based on our test results and activities in school, based on our later education, experiences and jobs, but is that what we really are, just the sum of others expectations and our external experiences or are we something more, and if we are each really something more, don’t we owe it to ourselves to spend just a small bit of the short time that we are on earth to discover who we really are?

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