Oct. 13, 2008 seemed like a typical Monday for Mariam Williams. She started her day at Main Line Broadcasting in Louisville, where she worked as a copy writer and research director, as she normally did. But she had just written about three lines of a new commercial when her supervisor gave her a call. At about 9:30 a.m. that day Mariam was laid off.
Over five months later, Mariam has yet to find a full-time job, a true sign of how pitiful our economy is these days. But she’s kept busy not only job hunting but also picking up freelance writing gigs and laying the ground work for her business Research Works, through which she offers freelance copy writing, research and editing services to companies.
Mariam has also started a blog that’s received a lot of attention called The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off. This blog stands out from the rest because in addition to sharing stories on the emotional roller coaster on which this time has sent her, Mariam also discusses the economic issues on a national scale so readers leave her site a little smarter than they were before stopping by.
We caught up with Mariam recently to talk to her about her blog and about what it’s like living life laid off.
When and why did you start the blog?
I started the blog in January, during (Louisville’s) snowstorm. I was in month three of my employment hiatus then. I had wanted to start a blog for a while in order to informally publish some of my writing and to share my thoughts with the world. I felt like after three months of being unemployed, I had more to say about being jobless than I did about any of the other subjects I could have chosen to write about.
How has the helped you deal with your “employment hiatus”?
It’s cathartic. I usually end each post on a positive note, and I’ve found that even if I was distressed when I sat down to write, the process of sorting out my feelings in words to the point where I can make other people understand them helps me to feel better. And whenever readers leave a comment on the blog that says they’re in the same situation, they’re encouraged, or they’re just enjoying the writing, my spirit perks up again.
In addition to your blog you’ve been featured on FLYP Magazine and in a story I wrote for Velocity Weekly, in which you talked about being laid off. Why are you so open to sharing your story?
Three reasons: 1) I know there are millions of people in the same situation. 2) I don’t think young adults affected by the recession have gotten much attention. 3) I never know where a job lead might come from.
Has being laid off taught you anything about yourself?
Yes. It’s taught me that: I shouldn’t be afraid to showcase my talent as an essayist; I enjoy this style of writing even more than I do play writing and screenwriting (Mariam’s also a dancer, actress and playwright. Click here for more on how awesome she is); I’m good without all the events my former employer used to get me into for free; I can be very productive working from home; and it has reinforced something I already knew — I function best in quiet surroundings.
What’s your dream job?
To be an author and freelance writer who makes a comfortable living and who occasionally gets the chance to appear on stage in her own work and in that of others. Managing the blog and social media content, newsletters, and press for non-profits, small businesses, or a corporation would fit in well with that goal.
How are you coping both financially and emotionally?
Financially, I’m blessed. I’ve never been late with rent, I don’t have any “services terminated” notices, and I’m never hungry. I was worried at the beginning because I knew that the deferred billing on some items I had bought for my apartment was about to come due, things were tight already, and I had never gone through filing for unemployment benefits before. I didn’t know what 1.3078% of my base period wages would look like. I now know it’s enough to cover the basics, plus three really good going out of business sales and a trip to the beautician exactly once every eight weeks for a press and a trim. It’s very difficult to save money, though. I recently decided to take the payout for the sorry remainder of my 401k and put it into a health savings account now that I have high-deductible individual health insurance. Emotionally, there are ups and downs. I’m not naturally optimistic, so after several weeks of thinking positive and getting no new job leads or getting several rejection letters/emails in a row, I tend to revert back to glass half-empty mode. But I write about it and apply for jobs again.
The Pink Slip Blog – Living Life Laid Off can be found at: http://livinglifelaidoff.com/.
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