One of the challenges of being unemployed for so long (more than two years now), has been a feeling that I have been forgotten by society. The unemployment benefits lasted for only a few months, and they seem such a dim memory now. I hear reports on the news about the fluctuations of the level of people receiving unemployment from the government, and I get the feeling that the economists and analysts have completely lost touch with reality, because I know very well that there are huge numbers of people who are unemployed just like me, but who are no longer counted because their benefits have run out. The government does not seem to care about us. I feel in some way the government does not care that I and others like me even exis, and this has actually had a subconscious effect on me: a small part of me feels like maybe I no longer really matter. That is a very dangerous thing to feel, if one is unemployed.
Fortunately, my wife works full-time, so the struggle for me has not been so much a financial one (although that is a real challenge), but rather, it has been a struggle to maintain a sense of personal self-worth. I believe this is probably a universal struggle for anyone who is long-term unemployed.
However, perhaps even more frustrating, is dealing with the immense frustration of absolutely knowing with complete certainty that I do have a lot to contribute to society, and that I could contribute so much through my work. I want to contribute, and because I do not have a job, I feel as if a huge part of me is lying unused and unappreciated. The thought of being able to do a good job, to help in some way to improve something, seems to me to be a beautiful and wonderful vision. To take this vision further, and to imagine someone actually complimenting me for my work or contribution seems to me right now to be akin to heaven. Not being able to find a way to fully contributte to society has been absolutely devastating.
These two things basically come down to one issue: the feeling of being invisible. And that is the hardest part about being unemployed, from my experience.
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