The Great “Recession”
I know what the recession feels like….not just the rhetoric. Recession, over last year (Oct 2011)? Hardly.
Those who will only “know” about the recession but NOT really feel it includes: people who have had a steady job throughout the recession and lost no income during this period, people who are independently wealthy, college students and people in school who are being financially taken care of by external funds, people who maintained a house/home with no financial problems throughout the recession, people who were not looking for a job. These are just examples of people who will have knowledge of the recession but may be totally disconnected. Granted, almost every field from banking to retail and education to social work has experienced loss of business, funding, and other dire financial situations. However, an organizational “feeling” of the recession does not necessarily mean that the individual working at these organizations truly “felt” the recession. Still, some people may have been anxious about losing their jobs, which is undoubtedly a “feeling” of the recession.
Allow me to stop to describe what is the difference between “knowing” and (the yet elusive) “feeling” the recession. When an organization or individual “knows” about the recession, they may understand the facts of the recession, including that the middle class is disappearing, that 1 in 7 Americans are now in poverty, that in one year the number of people on welfare has jumped from 35 M to 41 M, that people are perpetually collecting unemployment, that people are afraid to lose their jobs, that losing one’s job has caused people so much despair that they have “ended it all” and in fact even “ended it all” for family members, co-workers and others, that businesses have cut back several millions of jobs, that Americans are saving now more than ever before, that the credit industry has finally busted because they can no longer offer as much credit and people are using far less credit, that almost every market is faltering and people’s homes are getting foreclosed left and right…even for millionaires, that people are losing their cars, light, and electricity, and that people cannot find a job to quite literally save their lives. Indeed, these are not exhaustive examples of the brute of the recession, but these are some of the facts that people who “know” about the recession either from mass media or even the experiences of other people around them, that they can go by to actually have any recollection of the recession when it indeed is finally over.
However, the people who “feel” the recession are those people connected to the previous examples. When we move from knowing the recession to feeling the recession, the real change is now from the physical to the ideological. Our knowing comes from our sight, what we see in the physical. Our feelings come from our heart and mind, the bases of which are ideological. When the recession is over, for those who feel the recession, the scars of the pain, the depression, the anxiety, and in fact the grief of the recession will stay with them for quite a while, regardless of the physical–or what can be seen. Those who feel the recession ask, how am I going to be able to feed my children? How will I pay for childcare? How will I take care of my sick parent? Where will I go when they foreclose my home? When will I find a job and what will I do until then (financially and for livelihood)? How will I be able to do everything without my car? How will I be able to work at full capacity having been out of a job for so long?
Yet, these questions do not begin to cover what these people feel internally.
Shame-how can I be proud to look any of my relatives or friends in the eye knowing that my whole world is falling apart? When I am not who I used to be? Plus, people are telling me left and right what to feel or how to feel, or telling me all the things that I am doing wrong on the interviews or putting me on edge about my level of work at work. They say, maybe I am lacking confidence or enthusiasm. I think, maybe I am lacking pride in my life…I am ashamed of myself.
Emptiness-who am I anymore? I no longer have a job (especially not to meet my credentials for those kicked out of high-paying jobs), and I spend all my days looking for work…even though at some point I gave up looking for work. I no longer have a livelihood, something to wake me up in the morning, something to engage me. I have no or low sense of identity. I am idle….I feel useless.
Guilt-how will I provide for my family? Resources are tight, and besides living expenses, I still have to pay for educational expenses or work or interview expenses. How can I fire this person with 5 kids who has been a great asset to my company? I barely fed my newborn baby today…I am letting people down.
Envy/Nostalgia-why do some people keep their jobs while others do not? Was my co-worker well-connected to the brother of the CEO, because I damn sure did a better job than he did but they kept him? I wish I was back in school, because those were better days when I did not have these financial burdens. I’m sure the government can fund me for school now given my lack of income. I remember those days when I was accomplished at work and even a bit revered if I do say so myself. What’s wrong with me?…I want my life back.
Mental/Physical Fatigue-why is it so hard to get up in the morning? I will not find a job, so why even try? They always have something to say at work, so why even bother? My rent/mortgage is 4 months past due, so why even think about it?…I give up.
Numbness/Apathy-how do I stop myself from being bothered before I go absolutely crazy? I do not want to deal with people because I am ashamed, I lack any livelihood, I am hurting people, I have lost so much, and/or other people are better off than me. My lights are out, my kids are starving, and I am not up to much of anything. My experience in the recession is too much to bear…I am shutting down.
If you have ever felt any combination of these “symptoms”, you have probably “felt” the recession.