I'm far too gloomy. Things are going to be all right, and everything's going to be OK. I know this much is true, because generally this is how these things work out. It's hard to remember, when you're in the middle of a losing streak, what it's like for things to go your way; but you have to remember that they do.
I'm trying to convince myself, but I remain sceptical, even as I type the words. Sure, I say to myself, it's all very well saying that things are going to improve, but with no evidence that they will, how can you believe they will? I suppose you can look back on times when you felt that way about other things, and situations improved, but then how can you be sure that will repeat itself now? But it will, I reply, it will. Things will get better, and this angsty nonsense will be just a memory. It's the attempt to replace fear with hope. It's the idea that things will go right, because they ought to, because they should, rather than because there are any indications that they might.
Is it better to be told nothing or to be told something? I don't know. I got an email yesterday from a supermarket, as I'd applied for a job there - 16 hours a week picking things off shelves for home shopping, from 3am to 6am - but was told the same old "However, on this occasion" niceties. The pleasant lady who wrote to me - well, I assume it was the same email copied and pasted to everyone, but still, I found the wording less brutal and somehow more comforting than usual - said that she was sure (sure!) that my hard work would pay off and I'd find something to. I imagine all the other no-mark failures like me were temporarily prevented from feeling the same rage of inadequacy. I don't know.
How the fuck do you turn something like that into a positive feeling, a pleasant sentiment, a thing that makes you feel better about yourself, rather than worse? Well, I have thought about it. You have a lot of time to think about things when you're unemployable, as I am, and you do get a chance to be philosophical, as well as to pointlessly ruminate endlessly about where you went wrong. But if you can be philosophical, rather than dwelling on where you went wrong and wondering whether it's ever going to go right for you again, you can try and salvage some positive things from the wreckage.
So I look at it like this: any sense of misguided entitlement that I may have had before all this began is gone. And that must be a good thing. I realise that I'm not entitled to a job, I don't deserve a job, I shouldn't be 'given' a job. No-one should 'give' me a job. I should get one. I should take one. I should fight for one, and win one. And when I do get one, I'll be more grateful than I used to be, when I took working for granted, when I grumbled and complained about how awful things were working where I used to work. I'll just be pleased to have some money and to be able to know where it's coming from, and not look ahead two or three months with a sense of dread and hopelessness. I'll be able to look my partner in the eye and feel I haven't let them down or failed them; I'll be able to feel better about myself, that I can work.
That's all positive, I think. It may have taken this experience to change my attitude a little, but I feel I am changed. I feel I am much more humble and much less arrogant about it all. I realise I don't deserve anything. Having qualifications and a degree don't matter, if you haven't got the right experience. Sometimes having the right experience isn't enough. Sometimes having the right experience, the qualifications, the degree and being really good at your job isn't enough. Sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time and give the right impression to the right person.
So there it is. That's what I take from all this. There are a couple of ways of looking at it: I could sink into despair and think that this is a new low, a new shame, a new humiliation. Or I could think that this is just what I've needed for some time, to make me appreciate the things I do have, when I get them back. Whenever that is. I suppose it's easier to take the first approach, to be helpless and hopeless, and I don't criticise anyone who does, because I know I've done it. But I am trying as hard as I can to think the other way.