Coming out of college can be a terrifying change, but for me it was made a lot easier when I received a well-paying job offer several months before college had ended. It meant I was able to focus on other aspects of my life: passing exams, sorting an apartment so I could move out of my mom’s house and just normal life stresses. This quickly fell apart when the global pandemic hit. Suddenly, pretty much everyone was working from home and most companies, including the one I was going to work for, scrapped any job offers they had given. For me, this meant that once SUSI payments stopped coming through, I would have no source of income; and since I hadn’t started my job yet, I was ineligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
Global pandemic changed everything
To say this caused me stress is putting it lightly. I started panicking because I had no way to pay for anything and nobody in my field was hiring. I started losing sleep, and any time I thought about it, I would become anxious and stressed. I was convinced that I needed to solve this myself. At the end of the day, this was my financial issue and nobody else was responsible for me having a job and being able to pay for food/bills/etc.
Aside from that, I was embarrassed. While it wasn’t my fault the job offer fell through, I felt a sense of shame asking for help as if I was admitting defeat or weakness. I tried to figure out a plan for myself, including applying for Jobseeker’s Benefit but that was risky since it wasn’t guaranteed I would be eligible and even if I was, it would only sustain me for a couple of months.
Reaching out for support
Eventually, I turned to family and friends for advice, since I wasn’t able to figure it out myself. As soon as I started talking to them, a lot of the stress I was feeling started to disappear. It was no longer just me facing this problem, but I had an entire support system of people who were helping out.
My partner advised me to start looking for jobs outside of my field. Looking back this seems extremely obvious, but at the time I had discounted it outright because I assumed that if there were no jobs in my field, there wouldn’t be any jobs available to me at all. They helped me apply for any jobs we could find. My friends and family helped me prepare, and soon enough I was offered a job that paid well enough for me to be able to afford moving out.
Looking back, I realise that I allowed myself to get consumed by stress and doing so had an impact on my ability to think clearly and was very bad for my mental health. While I appreciate that I’m very lucky, and it would be unfair of me to pretend my privilege as a white man had no part to play in the happy ending in this situation, I do think this entire experience has taught me that asking for help is never a bad idea.
While this was something I was aware of when it comes to mental health, I’ve come to learn the same is true for all aspects of life. It’s easy to convince yourself that you have to be the one to solve your problems, often an outside perspective helps bring new ideas, or makes you re-evaluate ideas you had already dismissed.
This article was developed in partnership with the Credit Union, a not-for-profit, community-owned financial institution.