120 Days unemployed: Oh, How Things Have Changed.

I almost can’t believe it’s been four months since I was laid off.

My 90-day update wasn’t great, and since then, things have changed a lot.

Looking into the rest of the year, I had a few thoughts. My first is that, even for freelancers, the last two months of the year are often pretty slow.

And two, although I haven’t entirely drained my savings, it’s definitely disappearing, and I hate that.

So, when I got an email about holiday retail opportunities, I filled out an application. I got a call for the interview the next day and was hired on the spot.

When I was fired from my job in 2014, I worked retail to pay all of my bills for almost a year. At times, I was working at three different stores to make enough money to get by (and even that was rough).

I haven’t worked retail since then and honestly thought I never would. Retail is hard work — physically and mentally — and it pays shit.

But I needed to do SOMETHING. It’ll take me a full month to make nearly $1,000 working 30 hours weekly at the retail job. I made more than 4x that at my salaried job, but I’m doing what I can.

I’ve been working retail for two weeks now, and I sometimes had to stop crying during my 15-minute break. It’s tough out there, people are really mean, and it’s a lot to learn (my main task each shift is using the register for purchases and returns).

I keep reminding myself of the silver lining here: 1. I’m making money, even if it’s not much. 2. I’m getting out of the house and meeting people. 3. I get a discount, which will help with holiday gifts. 4. Every associate has free, anonymous access to a mental health professional 24/7 — which is a huge blessing.

It’s a seasonal job, which means it’s over in January. However, my manager said if I wanted to stay — that was an option. I really don’t know how I feel about that yet, but I’m grateful to have that choice.

Although the retail job is keeping me busy, I still have one freelance client that I’m working proximately 6-10 hours for each week.

Right after my 90-day update, she actually approached me about doing some additional work for her — work that I would need training for.

I said yes, and I’ve since been learning more and taking on new tasks each week. The work is new to me, and it’s been really interesting to learn a new field where I can use my skills in writing and journalism.

I’m grateful to have additional work outside the retail job and am looking forward to where this goes in the new year.

And finally, my Etsy Shop (Bitter Lemon Digital) has picked up in sales! I went from making a few sales a month to making around 10 sales per week.

The traffic and sales are still nothing to live off of, but I’m happy to see my efforts are working. I am always so excited when people are interested in the things I create! I still have several new items to add to the shop before Christmas, but I’m so happy with how things are going.

I’m not going to say these last 30 days have been easy. I had a really rough go with the Texas Unemployment office and basically concluded that I won’t be able to collect unemployment anymore simply based on the antiquated system they use.

I was never relying on unemployment funds (I only got around $1,000 in these last four months), but always hoped it could be a backup plan for me. It’s not, and it was a stressful few days after realizing that.

I also was denied my annual checkup because of a mistake in my COBRA paperwork. I cried right in the doctor’s office lobby. But I have hope that when I get new health insurance next month (from the government marketplace), I’ll be able to get my checkup.

So, that’s where I’m at. Is it great? Nah. But I’m generally healthy, can pay my bills, and I have hope for the future. That’s about all I can ask for right now!

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    1. thebitterlemon

      I’ve lost my job 4 times and have been freelancing for 15 years — sometimes it’s really tough. I’ve always said the mental part is the toughest! It’s something I work on daily. Keep on keeping on!

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