The Elusive Life of the Unemployed

Ashleigh Rolle

We’ve read them. The influx of statistical updates pointing the blame at our parents’ generation for the injustices they’ve afforded us in the form of unemployment. We’ve seen them. The hordes of young people around the world gathered around their respective parliaments or government houses demanding jobs for the young. Yes, we see them but we rarely give each member of that horde an individual face. A story.

As a person who has been unemployed for some time now I think I can call myself an Ambassador for unemployment.

My daily life consists of sending out resumes and contemplating whether the people in the working world know that I’m Googling cream cheese and Dorito dip and somehow judging me for my questionable Yummly subscription.

I took a bath today (which wasn’t an easy decision might I add) and then I decided to stand outside of my house for a full 10 minutes. This all takes place at night of course because apparently even though my body lives in The Bahamas, it thinks it’s in the land down under.

The days all merge together to become one big Saturday where you can never really estimate what time it is and if you’ve spoken to anyone. People might say ‘’I’m living the dream’’, but I disagree.

Since the age of 16 I’ve known what it is to work for my money, to contribute to a household, to pay a bill, and to deposit my own funds into my small bank account. At the age of 16, I found myself thinking that this is what it must be like to be in my 20’s and be able to say I’m self-reliant. Fast forward four years later and you’ve put 16 year old me into some sort of mental shock. Our entire generation is shocked.

We tend to talk about unemployment in a really black and white way and fail to see the various nuances in between. We don’t talk about the mental toll it takes on a person to be unemployed and for so long.

On the days when I go into our Island’s downtown area to find little odd and end jobs to complete, I would walk over to the National Insurance Building that houses the Government’s Social Services office.

I stand in the blazing sun on a long line for about 3 hours until I’m finally face to face with a social services officer. Now, because I don’t have children or siblings that depend on my income, I’m given a 40 dollar food coupon and told to come back in 2 months.

Who ever said money doesn’t buy happiness is a liar from the seventh circle of hell.  I’ve not once been able to walk into a grocery store and buy a meager can of tuna with my happiness. Instead, I dig into my pockets and cough up my last 75 cents in the hopes that the stranger behind me will give me the missing quarter.  I’ve not once been able to hand my debt collectors a bag filled with all things happy and say “see you next month!” The truth is, money does buy you happiness. Money affords you the financial independence and stability one needs to be able to make it in this otherwise ridiculously expensive world.

I’m not complaining though. How can I? There’s simply no time for it. Instead, I search harder for jobs and on the days when I’m too depressed to do that, I sleep and then repeat the cycle. This is the elusive life of the unemployed.

We’ve seen the hordes of unemployed youth occupy our television screens and bombard our parliaments. We’ve heard their cries but what are we doing to answer them?

I don’t have a solution, but I do know that I speak for hundreds of thousands of young people when I say we need to find one, because living vicariously through my Yummly subscription is unsustainable.