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As a child I enjoyed playing the game of Hide & Seek.  It mattered not if I was the hider or if I was the seeker (called “it”).  The game was pure fun!

As an adult I hid a lot when I was unemployed.  I hid from family.  I hid from friends.  I hid from myself.

I hated talking about being unemployed and avoided it like the plague by changing the conversation at the very hint of it being discussed.  I hated being unemployed.  I hated the word unemployed and then shifting over to the super-sized version of the word—long-term unemployed.

I felt like no matter how much I called out my position so the seeker—a full-time employer—could find me, “it” didn’t hear me.  Didn’t acknowledge me.  Didn’t want to find me.  I must have hidden really well.  Then finally one day “it” heard me.

Every day being unemployed felt the same to me.  Uncertain.  Frustrating.  Depressing. Even with my quest to always seek joy.  But then one day I thought about it and looked back and realized all of those days held some form of incremental change.  That was the joy.  Something small.  Probably totally insignificant at the time.  Minutiae. But over time, all of those things, those little changes, added up.  That’s how life sneaks up on us.  Time can move slowly or fast….it all depends on our perspective.

As a fiercely independent person it was hard to lean on others.  My two seasons of unemployment taught me that gift.  The gift of vulnerability and truly being open to trusting other people.  The gift of thankfulness for my family.  The gift that even while others are happy and celebratory of holiday happenings that I too could be happy during the holidays if I chose to be.  I learned there is a quiet strength that comes from being vulnerable.

As the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays approach, there is the added burden of a different type of financial anxiety associated with this time of year on top of concerns regarding meeting the regular monthly expenses.  Not to mention the anxiety of having to answer well-meaning questions from parents, Aunties, Uncles, cousins, grandparents and other extended family members steadily inches up.  Yes, you’ll hear the same questions over and over again.

Just thinking about my family asking those questions would make my heart race.  I would tighten up.  Be ready to be defensive.  In the end, it pains me to admit that I honestly didn’t enjoy my special holiday times with my loved ones, all because I wanted to feel in control (although I was anything but).  Then before I looked up the holiday was over and everyone was heading back home. Do me a favor? Choose differently than I did.  Try not to clam up like I did during two seasons of the holidays. I wish like crazy I could get those moments back. Wish I had known then not to be so guarded and defensive.  Don’t play emotional hide and seek with your loved ones. Trust them. Let them in.  Make the choice to stop hiding and let yourself enjoy them regardless of your job status coupled with their well-meaning advice or questions.

Relax.  Chill.  Trust.  Stay positive.  Be present.  Enjoy the holidays.  Savor and enjoy your time with family. They mean well.  They only want and have the best intentions for you.  Welcome their support.  Lean in and feel their love and support surround you like a huge welcoming joyous hug, then reciprocate it right back to them.

Unemployment is hard and downright ugly and difficult.  You may not always see it day-to-day but you have so much to be thankful for.  Think on these things.  Trust that greater things are ahead of you.  “It” is just taking time to find you.  And it will.

In the meantime, enjoy the fact that you have someone to lean on.

Be blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!

Day by day nothing changes