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Up and Up

I have good news for anyone who reads this and cares about my life right now: I have a job.

I’ve only just started, so I’m still kinda paranoid that it’ll disappear from under me any minute now, but it’s a job, which is honestly great.

Before getting this job, I had a few days of training last week. Honestly? Ever since I found out about the training, I’ve been feeling a lot better. I had a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I was getting out of the house, being social. I was talking to people who aren’t the same few people (Okay, I love my friends, but sometimes you just get tired of talking to the same few people every single day with no variety).

I’m noticing huge changes in my behaviour. The fact that I’m actually talking to people at work is honestly shocking to me. A couple of weeks ago I was so down that I thought for sure I’d be dedicated to my “spend all my time that’s not working in a corner reading and ignoring everyone” plan. Instead, I’m talking, making jokes, and I think I’m actually socialising properly? Is this how you make friends and such? Weird.

Two days into working, and I’m already doing so much better. I haven’t even been paid yet. I may already be planning what I’m going to do with that money. Mostly saving and getting my P’s. Getting ready to stand on my own two feet. Hopefully. At the very least being able to start driving myself around. Which will be great, then I won’t have to deal with waiting for someone else to be able to supervise me driving every morning.

Progress, right?

Anyway, that’s really the biggest thing that I can comment about right now. I’ve mostly been going through general induction things the last couple of days. Mostly, I just wanted to share how much better I’m already going, mentally, than I was last week, and have been in general for the past few weeks. Hopefully things will only go upwards from here. And, funnily enough, being in a positive mindset is something that often helps when you’re down. Which is incredibly hard to do when you’re down. Just like how many of the best money-saving tips don’t work if you’re poor.

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Need to Work

I would very much like a job. I really would. I would like to have something to do with my time. That’s one of the things about depression, or at least with my depression. Not having something to do makes it worse. Holidays are something entirely different. Not having to do something is entirely different to not having something to do. Isn’t it funny how a simple rearrangement of words can change the meaning entirely?

Depression and anxiety are things that affect different people differently. In one of my recent blogs I talked about how everyone should take advice with a grain of salt. What works great for someone else won’t necessarily work well for them. And I cannot stress enough how important that is to keep in mind. I am not currently seeing a psych, and one of my main reasons for that is that I haven’t found the right one for me yet. The ones I have found have mostly tried me on CBT. Cognitive Behavioural Treatment is one of the big trends in psychology at the moment. It’s hardly the be all and end all, and it’s definitely not for me.

A lot of CBT is about recognising your behaviour, and trying to change it, or change how you see it. Maybe if I weren’t already hyper aware about every little thing I do, it might have helped me? Or maybe I just don’t have the right mindset to get behind it. Either way, it hasn’t worked for me, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to tell people not to try it. (Nor will I say that if you haven’t already tried it you should definitely try it. It’s not for everyone, and you should seriously take some time to think about whether or not it’s right for you, or you think it might be beneficial to you, before you try it or not.)

I’m already rambling and getting off track. It’s a good thing I’m currently trying to keep this as a personal opinion and experience blog rather than something overly political or professional. I mean, hey, maybe if I upped my game and made really professional posts I could woo in potential employers. Well, unlikely with my meagre reach, although perhaps people might be more inclined to share it.

Though, again, not what I’m trying to get at. Which goes to show how bad my mental state is at the moment. I’m an absolute mess. Why? Because trying to find employment is incredibly stressful and depressing.

It doesn’t help that I’ve got restrictions. There are some things that I know I just won’t be able to do, thanks to my anxiety limiting me. I could never work in retail, for one, when I know just how stressful those jobs can be. Nor could I do something with high KPI requirements, or that’s extremely commission based. There are other people out there who can take on those jobs, who won’t burst into tears at a raised voice when someone isn’t 100% happy and decides to take it out on a retail worker. Someone who won’t panic and feel their throat closing up when they realise they need to make ten more sales in order to just keep their job. Who won’t spend their break picking at their skin, their nails, or pulling their hair, because they’re just not sure that they’re doing well enough that week to make rent.

There are jobs out there that I know I could do. I would like to think that I’m a great writer. I’m quite a good communicator. I’m a very pleasant person. As much as I’d be incredibly nervous to go to an interview right now, I’d love at least that chance to put myself forward, to prove to employers that I can do what they’re asking. That I’m capable, and a quick learner, and that it wouldn’t take much for me to be able to fit in to almost any work place.

Instead I am just applying for jobs, left right and centre, and finding myself sick to the stomach every time I get a new email from Seek telling me that my application with such and such a company won’t progress. It certainly doesn’t help that there’s no reason for the companies to tell me why my application won’t progress. They don’t need to take time out of their day to tell me that I’m the most inexperienced candidate they had, that they just weren’t quite sure about me from my resume, that they felt I might be bored in the role with my qualification.

I mean, I can hardly expect them to. What Seek does offer, are some insights to the jobs I applied for. It shows me how many people applied, how many attached a resume, and how many attached a cover letter.

I’m one of those who attaches both. I try to tailor my cover letter, because I genuinely want every job I apply for. I don’t see the point in applying for one that I’m not interested in. I know many people (particularly those who fill the 1% who don’t attach resumes, or the larger 20~% who don’t attach cover letters) are only applying for those jobs because they have to. I am not one of those. I want employment. I want to work. To do something with my life. I don’t want to just skate by on Centrelink. Even if I didn’t want to have something to do with my time, I would want work for nothing more than to be able to have some actual money that I could spend.

So, I look through my emails, and I see: 205 people applied. 115 matched all the employers requirements. (I did not, because I had no experience in such a role). 844 applied. 62% attached a cover letter. (No experience preference listed for which I was explicitly rejected.) 203 candidates applied. 65% attached cover letters. 175 people matched all the employer’s criteria. (I also matched their criteria. No rejection for lack of experience here. At least, not explicitly.)

23 candidates applied for the role. Only 6 matched the employers criteria. I did not, because I have no experience in the publishing industry, and apparently didn’t hit their “magic number” for salary expectation. (Is it bad that I honestly have no idea what to expect? At this point, I don’t care. Pay me enough for me to have a roof over my head that doesn’t leak, food for myself and my cat, with enough left over to pay bills. I haven’t had a job before, “salary” means very little to me.)

The most positive response I’ve had recently unfortunately ended up being something that was just impossible for me to achieve at the moment. I got through the first few tests to be a captioner with a company, only to reach the hurdle of the interview. I would have loved to attend, if only I would be able to get to Melbourne by the morning of two days after I was told I had the interview. Getting a flight to Melbourne would have been doable (barely). Accommodation when I got there on such short notice? A fair bit less so. Long term accommodation should I have done well in the interview and gotten the job? Doable, but fiddly on, again, such short notice. Flight back up if I didn’t do so well in the interview? Not so doable. I had to think long and hard about it on Monday when I found out I had gotten the interview. It would have been a great opportunity that I would have loved to go for. Unfortunately, given I currently have a grand total of $300 in my savings, because for those of you who aren’t aware, it is very hard to save when you’re on Centrelink, it wasn’t really worth going down for the interview. Given I couldn’t do it over the phone for whatever reason (I asked, they said they had something that “had to be done in person”) and I would have been reliant on the interview working out to make it possible for me to even temporarily move down to Melbourne, I had to turn it down.

So, yes, I’m not in the best of headspaces right now. Each rejection hurts, and given I have to keep applying for jobs, both to keep being paid by Centrelink, and to potentially get hired by one of the many jobs I’m applying for, I am not likely to be in a good headspace any time soon. I wanted to look into more of the factors that make it really hard for people to get jobs, but this ended up being a very rambling and personal story. It did however get across one of the points that I wanted to make, which is just how many people are applying for jobs. With companies being overwhelmed by so many applications, it’s inevitable that a lot of people have to lose out. It just hurts that I don’t even make it as far as getting to sell myself in person with an interview. That, and not getting feedback really brings me down. I try to put my best self forward, only to be turned down without explanation. Of course, I can hardly blame companies like the one that likely rejected hundreds of applicants and weeded down to a couple of dozen of the most qualified for the interview process. Just because I can’t blame them doesn’t mean it helps my mental state, however.

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Unemployed Woes

Being unemployed is so fun, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it. There’s no job demanding my time. I’m able to just sit back and have fun on tax payers’ money. Said virtually no one ever, let me assure you.

Certainly, there are those out there who do work the system. They exploit what they can, so they don’t have to work. They almost make an art form of it, with Centrelink believing they live somewhere they don’t, they pay X amount of rent when they actually pay Z, they aren’t in a relationship when they are. They spend their money on drugs, and alcohol, and plead to their family for bread to feed their children.

Most people aren’t like that. Most people living off of Centrelink are out there, applying to every job they can. They’re forcing themselves to go to interviews to jobs that they don’t want, because it will be better than nothing. It would certainly be better than relying on a system that doesn’t care about you.

I’ve recently finished my study. This means that I have to make a transition from one Centrelink payment to another. I’m going from Austudy to Newstart. Just as I went from studying full time, to realising that I’m unemployed and virtually unemployable, I’m now having fun dealing with the monetary side of things that will allow me to keep myself under a roof, with enough food to live.

Barely anyone on Centrelink wishes to stay on it. I have many friends who have no choice, who are unable to work more than they do due to chronic illnesses. Most of those would much rather be able to exist on their own and cut out Centrelink entirely. If only it were an achievable option.

Going to work everyday can be easy compared to meeting the expectations of Centrelink. At least then your free time is actually free, and you don’t feel any guilt for spending your money on something fun, something truly for you. I know that right now I would certainly much rather have a job, or at least one waiting for me, than deal with Centrelink. At least if I had a job on the line, I’d know that I’m going to be paid sometime soon. Whereas I am currently sitting in a well of anxiousness with no idea if I’m even going to be able to pay my rent next time it’s due.

Centrelink is supposed to be a system that’s there to support those who are down on their luck. It should be there to lend strength to the weakest members of our society. As such, you’d expect that it would be easy enough for people to reach out and get help from them. If only.

My own tale is just one example of how hard it can be to deal with this system that doesn’t care about people. The fact that I have spent the past two weeks on edge and close to tears more often than not because of it. That I have another two weeks likely to be spent the same way.

Going from one payment to another should be simple. I already exist on their system. I’ve been on Newstart in the past. The only thing that has changed is that I am no longer studying, and instead looking for work.

Towards the end of my time studying, I had a “to do” task on Centrelink’s website. It wanted me to arrange a phone meeting, regarding my switch from Austudy to Newstart. Except, I wasn’t able to arrange the meeting. I tried, multiple times on multiple days, but it was only offering me two days for the phone meeting, and telling me that both those days were unavailable to have a meeting on.

I called up at 8am, to speak to someone. I have had issues in the past where if I try to call even a few minutes later, I will simply hear a busy signal, and not be able to get through at all. It has been a while since I have needed to call at all, perhaps they have fixed whatever issue was causing that. However, I prefer to err on the side of caution.

Over the phone, I managed to schedule an appointment for the next day, between 1 and 2. I spent most of that hour with my phone in hand, only leaving for a few minutes to hang my washing out, at 10 to 2. Naturally, that’s when they rang.

So, I rang Centrelink to try to make another appointment. I was told that the “to do” task I’d had wasn’t meant for me, that it was instead for people under the age of 22. The lady I spoke to this time told me that the phone call I’d missed would have informed me of that, and that instead of having a phone appointment, I merely needed to wait until my study finish date, then make a new claim for Newstart.

I did as much. This time, I had another phone appointment, which I made certain my phone never left my hand for the entire hour I waited for their call. It was short, simply making an in person appointment for me at my nearest office (after being convinced that an office nowhere near me was my nearest). The appointment wouldn’t be for another couple of weeks, and in that time I’d need to get a medical certificate (to prove my anxiety and depression to them) and a form because I’m now a sole trader trying to sell myself as a writer and editor (which is working so well that I’ve had one job in the past few months since I got my ABN).

I showed up to my appointment on time, with my forms in hand. I waited in a rather long line to see the person who was organising where everyone should go to wait for their appointments, or to help themselves at the self service stations.

When I finally got to see her, I was told that I didn’t have an appointment. She double checked with her team leader, who agreed that I didn’t have an appointment. They told me to go home and just upload the forms I had to hand in. I did so, though I was worried about not showing up for the appointment that I knew I’d had.

I missed a call from a private number while I was walking out of the Centrelink office. When I got another call from a private number yesterday, however, I barely gave it the chance to ring.

Hello, I’m ringing in regards to the appointment you had on Friday which you didn’t show up for.”

Can I see the future, to know that I was going to get such a call?

I was so miserable on Friday that I wasn’t able to write a review. The weekend didn’t help me feel much better. Even today, I’m feeling utterly miserable. I have another two weeks before my next appointment. My anxiety is convinced that something will go wrong. That I’ll be denied Centrelink. I have no money to my name until I get paid by them again. Any savings I had was spent on rent for the fortnight. On bills. I’m currently looking at two weeks of barely doing anything. Of existing on two minute noodles. I’m glad my cat has enough food to last the two weeks, or I don’t know what I would do with myself.

Anxiety is a horrible companion, and it only weighs heavier on me at the moment. I don’t know that I’ll be writing my Friday reviews for the forseeable future. Indeed right now it’s hard enough for me to get this written down, to explain why I can barely breathe, let alone write.

There are those who might exploit the system, and use Centrelink with no intention of ever getting a job. Those few are the reason the rest of us struggle to afford rent. To buy food.

The system is broken, and it’s not the only one. It’s a broken system that doesn’t care about those under its care, reliant on it in their moments of weakness. As a broken system it does its best to break those honest few who are reliant on it. It can be hard to realise the truth, to know that you are trying your hardest to look for a job, when people look down your noses at you, and the very system in place to help make this time easier for you is insistent on putting you down, on making you feel a drain on society.

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Happy Halloween

There’s a cauldron with a cat’s face near my feet which is filled with many delicious sugary treats, and while I am happy to give it away to trick-or-treaters, I imagine that come tomorrow the only subtractions made from its insides will be when I crave something sweet.

I talked about Halloween in my first blog post on this site, and now it’s time to revisit the subject. Today I plan to talk about how things compare now to then, as well as give a brief overview of my October.

Unsurprisingly, given I only just started this whole thing up, I haven’t exactly had an influx of people demanding my editing services. Although even one little email might have been encouraging. I’ll get there one day, I’m sure. At least I have had the chance to further practise my editing skill with one of my assignments at uni. So far I’ve edited eight short manuscripts, with two left to do by Friday. Definitely getting there. Similarly, I have only a few edits left of my manuscript, and once that and my peer reviews have been handed in, I am officially done for the year.

I don’t know about you, but I am absolutely terrified to be leaving university. Of course, there’s still a part of me that’s worried that I might fail or otherwise not do as good as I might want to. Overall, however, I’m far more scared of what’s to come. I’m sure I mentioned before that I plan to move down to Melbourne eventually, where the publishing houses are… well, more. It’s not going to be an easy thing though. Which definitely sucks, because I’m actually really looking forward to being down there.

Moving is going to be hard. My whole life is up here, for starters. Not to mention, due to a certain four legged being covered in fur, and a bit of a hoarding mindset, I’m going to have to drive down. (The license is something I’m in the middle of working on. It will get there.) The move itself is going to be hard, but before that I’m going to need a job.

It is so hard to get a job today. It’s ridiculous. And getting a job that you can hold down? Don’t get me started. Recently, a friend of mine moved up from Sydney. Her area of work was in hospitals, but she didn’t really have an “in” up in Brisbane. Thankfully, I had that in for her. All I could really do was send through expressions of interest, passed on from someone who works in a hospital. But it was enough. She got an interview, and she got the job. That’s not exactly the end of her worries, however. She, and the vast majority of people she works with, are on 3 month contracts. Sooner or later, there’s a chance that her job might not be her job anymore, if she doesn’t get a permanent contract. Those aren’t exactly easy to get.

My friend was lucky that she had me. Sure, I have some friends down in Melbourne, but none of them are exactly in the position where they could help by sending me expressions of interest for jobs in my field. Or even any job, really. Which means that I’m going to be relying on Seek. Which is fine, I’m sure many people manage to get jobs through job sites. Or else the sites would no longer be active. Right? My biggest problem is that I might not get many places willing to do Skype interviews.

I’ve also recently had some fun determining how I’m going to continue getting Centrelink payments after uni is finished. To cut a long story short (perhaps I’ll get into the longer story one day) the Centrelink app was telling me to do something which it wouldn’t let me do, which apparently I didn’t need to do. Instead of sorting out to switch my payment over from Austudy to Newstart now, I simply have to wait until my Austudy expires, then make a claim for Newstart. At least hopefully that person was right, and I’m not going to have several weeks or months waiting for Centrelink to give me a payment.

So yeah, I’m not particularly confident about my future right now. But, for now, enough about me, and the void of uncertainty that I’m currently looking at. It’s my favourite holiday!

Not that I’m doing much for it. I have the aforementioned cauldron of sweets, should anyone appear at my door and utter the correct password. Otherwise, it has been and will continue to be, a relatively chill day for me. I have, however, seen some wonderful costumes today. There was an absolutely stunning Emily from Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride when I went to buy my sugary treats earlier. Worm coming out of her eye and everything. There was also a lovely zombie there. I even saw a witch at the News Agent when I topped up on sugary liquid (vanilla coke) to get me through the day. Okay, so not that many, but all the ones I’ve seen were absolutely wonderful. Not to mention, I saw a Ravenclaw, and any Harry Potter costume will always manage to bring a smile to my face.

Now, costumes and trick or treating aren’t the only things that I have been excited for this spooky season, as those of you who read my first blog will no doubt know. Halloween events have abounded. I definitely enjoyed the Overwatch event while it was up. (Okay, so it’s still up for now. Technically. It will be down sometime tonight though, I believe).

The Mystery at Hogwarts app event, however, hasn’t really been inspiring me. I was right when I thought there would be one. Of course there would be one. The problem, in my mind, however, is that there were so many of them. I feel as though I can barely continue with the story line itself, lately, due to how many events they have had. Instead, I spend all of my time on the game just in lessons, earning whatever I need to at the time in a desperate attempt to obtain all of the limited edition pets and skins that they have on offer.

This isn’t necessarily possible for someone who sleeps, goes to university, (I can only imagine how a job would intervene) and isn’t willing to shell out money for the in-game premium currency which refills energy. At the moment, I am also particularly annoyed at the app developers who put a bunch of people against a bunch of other people for a single limited edition item. I can certainly understand the idea behind it, don’t get me wrong. However, the annoying thing is that some people who particularly care are bound to be grouped up with people who don’t, or even people who are no longer playing the game.

Okay, so maybe I’m just salty that I’ve been screwed over twice. I even did end up using gems to refill my energy a couple of times to try to get the exclusive spider pet. I didn’t bother with the cool goth skin, however, not when there was one person in my group of Slytherins who hadn’t earned a single house pride point. I’m rather disappointed in some of my fellow Slytherins right now, not going to lie. Most of my disappointment, however, is reserved for the developers who seem to just be happy with the money they’re getting from people desperate to get all of the exclusive items.

There have been some other games I play which have had Halloween events. Sadly, however, I haven’t been playing many of those games. Mostly due to a combination of university assignments, and my determination to collect all of the event exclusives in Overwatch. (Achievement successfully unlocked, by the way.)

So, this has been an update on October from your friendly neighbourhood book addict. Coming up next is November. The lovely month of NaNo. I would imagine anyone who is likely to read my blogs in this coming month should expect a lot of exhausted posts about writing. Or perhaps a continuation of the random blogs of whatever passes my mind at the time. Hope everyone who reads this (and, well, everyone who doesn’t as well, I’m not going to discriminate) has a happy Halloween. A truly wonderful Samhain for those of you who celebrate it in the Northern Hemisphere. And for those who celebrate such things in the Southern Hemisphere, happy Beltane.