Job Security

The road may be bumpy but the path to the American Dream still exists.

One of my father's favorite one-liners is, "I've never been fired, but I've seen plenty of one-man layoffs." It never fails to get a chuckle, no matter how downtrodden the person may be about a bleak job situation, because there's reassurance in the knowledge that everyone goes through it. The message seems more relevant now than ever.

Finding and keeping a good job that you're happy with is never a simple task, but these days realizing your career goals has turned into a near-impossible feat. With the overall unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, progress in job creation couldn't happen fast enough. As we go to press, the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs wait to hear if unemployment benefits will be extended.

Yet businesses are still hesitant to hire, afraid of risking profit for possible growth and the greater good. The result is that everyone is left vulnerable to a domino effect in which population can no longer support industry. Businesses are still closing, and it seems as though no one in power knows what to do or whom to hold accountable.

We've all been touched by the tremendous loss of jobs. You would be hard-pressed to find someone without a friend or family member who has recently been either laid-off or fired, if they haven't been forced into the throng of job seekers themselves. Everyone takes on the burden in this scenario, scrambling for any lead on gainful employment, worrying over the status of our own position, and propping up our loved ones when the bills are due. It all adds up to premature cardiac arrest.

"I've never been fired,  but I've seen plenty of one-man layoffs."

A fair amount of baggage comes along with losing your job, the least of which is the gravity of not being able to provide for yourself and your family. All of your skills and experience are called into question, not to mention your monetary worth. Then come the pressures of reworking your resume, finding openings for which you're probably overqualified, and facing one rejection after another.

Upon graduating from college, right in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, I began to realize how ill-equipped I truly was for the real world. My bachelor of arts degree held little weight when employers were considering me for the few entry-level jobs I could find. It held even less when I resorted to looking for waitress and retail positions.

Such is life, but I've never looked at any job as being beneath me, and in this environment, no one can afford any other type of thinking. Beggars can't be choosers, as they say, and unfortunately that's the status to which much of the population has been reduced. Every headline regarding the economy at once inspires dread and hope for the future.

Nothing can prepare you for being let go, unless of course you consistently have a stockpile of job offers lying in wait, which I doubt any working adult has the time or vigilance to maintain. And it's even harder to prepare for making the sacrifices necessary to stay in control when we have bills to pay and mouths to feed. It's no secret that the abysmal housing market has led to quite a few relocations.

But I believe that the underlying theme my dad hoped to convey was to hold your head up and continue to make it work every single day. Keep trying, because everything will turn out for the best if you put forth the effort. While that may be easy for him to say as a stable employee, and just as easy for me to believe as the daughter of endlessly supportive parents, not everyone has a network to fall back on when things fall apart.

What's important is to have faith in something, if only in yourself, since the world doesn't owe anybody anything. Don't take good things for granted, no matter how trivial they may seem. If you're unemployed, make no room for despair. That particular road leads to nowhere, and the American dream is not yet lost.

If you're fortunate enough to have a job, do that job to the best of your abilities, making every minute count until you're absolutely vital to your company. Even if what you're doing isn't exactly your cup of tea, you can build confidence in knowing that you will always be a quality worker, responsible to a fault. Good things do in fact lead to better things and, hopefully someday, to a brighter future, laden with opportunities.

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