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David Nickell
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Unfortunately, I caught this article rather late. Like almost two and a half years late. But, hey, it's not like layoffs have subsided. I was laid off from the Miami Herald in the spring of 2009. I know the tips you suggested first-hand. Sadly, several will just not work. Telling someone to buck up or not get depressed is an exercise in futility. The key is to have your cry and get over it, to replace inaction and self-pity with action and pride. Give yourself a week to wallow in depression. Hell, two weeks. But put a deadline on it. What worked for me can't work for the majority. I was lucky enough to be near retirement age when the ax fell. So when unemployment compensation ran out, I applied for my newspaper pension and took an early retirement from Social Security. The severance and unemployment comp kept me going for about two years. During that time I tried most of the suggested tips, from networking to attempting to transfer my skills to a different field, including porno (as an editor, not as a performer). Nothing worked. Fortunately, I only needed enough income to supplement my pension and my Social Security. So I forgot about journalism and after learning that even retail clerk jobs were at a premium, I started investigating what jobs might be recession-proof. I took the training and became a security guard. I went from $27 an hour to $9 an hour. But so what? That $27-an-hour job would never come back around. I didn't need an illusionary job. I needed a real one. I stuck out the security guard job for eight months. As bad as it was -- every bit as dreadful as you might imagine -- it got me out of the house. It got me to prepare healthy lunches for myself. It brought me into contact with people. It brought some sunshine into my life -- literally, not figuratively. It enabled me to pay bills and to keep a roof over my head. Most important of all, it was so damn boring that it woke me up to what I ought to be doing. I'm now starting a blog and finishing two books. If I can't make money with any of that, then I've got the uniform to fall back on. And I think that's the key to survival. Try your best, by all means, to put your skills to good use, but if you don't find any takers, take a dose of reality. Devise a worst-case scenario -- or several of them -- that is your fall-back plan. If you have to take a menial job, try to keep your energy level high enough to write in your spare time, if a writer is what you are. Blog, write books, anything that restores your sense of self-worth. And get over the idea, the one I clung to during my whole career in journalism, that you are what you do. No, you're not. That's an identity defined by the people who just slit your throat. Be who you are on your own terms, not theirs. And give yourself a treat every time you reach a milestone or achieve a major accomplishment. You will have earned it and you deserve it.
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Mar 25, 2012