You learn to give thanks when you are down and out. You learn the importance of little things that help you get by—things most people take for granted like food and shelter. Only when you don’t have them do you realize how vital they are. Life should be more than mere subsistence. If you have the chance to help others, take the opportunity. It can mean the difference between health and decline. You can loom large in others’ eyes.
I went through a rough patch some time ago, and this is an experience that I want to share. I felt that I couldn’t go on. You know that terrible empty feeling of despair. I was able to overcome it, however, due to the kind work of a local shelter. They found me a little, seemingly insignificant job that got me to the other side. I never sneer at work of any kind now. I respect what life has to offer. When you have nothing, a job is indeed a job. It is never too menial or too worthless. It all adds up in the grand scheme of things.
I remember well this job I was given. There was a charitable event to take place in a week’s time. Publicity was put in place in the form of radio announcements and an email campaign, but they still wanted some grass roots publicity. I was asked to help for a small payment for the day. I was more than happy to oblige. The work was simple enough. I had to walk a few blocks and staple posters to telephone poles, bulletin boards, and walls. I could choose which ones and how frequent the placement.
I put on my comfy sneakers, grabbed the staple gun designated, and was off. People watched as I worked. They asked about the event and some even took flyers for their places of business. I expected that the charity was known and respected and a good turnout was in the offing. But in the world of donations, you can’t take too much for granted, and I trod on to complete my territory.
One day, one job, one payment, and one happy worker. I can’t tell you what it did for my self-esteem. The fact that the event went off without a hitch and had a great many attendees was gravy on the potatoes. I felt that I somehow had done something for someone else, just as the job giver had done something helpful for me. It is all about having a purpose in your life, something you can turn to again and again to steady your legs and lead you on.
Later, when I was on my feet again, and thriving, I wanted to return such a favor. Whenever I was able to help the homeless, I would—either with food, supplies, work, or directing them to a shelter. I wanted to spread the word that ignorance of this world is no excuse. It exists and merits our consideration. At the least you can support organizations that help if you don’t want to be hands on.
Trying to apply for a job when you do not have access to a shower, clean clothes, makeup, or a hairbrush is barely something you should even bother with unless you’re going to apply for a remote online job, which isn’t an option for everyone. The people who are interviewing you for a job are going through a process of elimination in order to find the best candidates. If you are the only person who showed up for a job without having showered, they are going to have an easy excuse to eliminate you, and they will respond accordingly. The results of job interviews are often determined in a fickle way, and even if you meet the requirements of a given job, you are going to lose to the more presentable person.
Some homeless people do not even have access to the information technology that they will need in order to print out their resumes. If you do not have access to a car, you cannot easily go to a library with public computer access unless you live close to one, which is not always an option for even the homeless people who are living outdoors. Some outdoor areas are more conducive to outdoor living than others, and ‘respectable’ places like libraries are rarely going to count. Libraries tend to be unfriendly places for homeless people in general. The easy solutions that people will recommend for getting around this problem are rarely going to work for homeless people in practice, since the forces that made you homeless will often work to keep you there in one way or another.
If I hadn’t had wonderful people to help me get out of the vicious cycle of homelessness, I would be struggling to live outdoors to this day. I did not lift myself up by my proverbial bootstraps in order to get to this point. Other people helped lift me up initially. It is true that it took a lot of personal effort to get to the point at which I owned a home and had a stable job. However, it is not something that I could have done alone. People should stop expecting other homeless people to do all of this alone when the initial help that they could give in the beginning would make all the difference.
I know what you’re thinking: it is possible to find a job without a high school diploma. Lots of teenagers do it all the time. Here’s the thing: they can do that because they’re teenagers. People don’t expect you to have your GED when you’re only sixteen. When you’re a decade older or especially over the age of thirty, people expect you to have your GED and a verifiable employment record at least. The longer you go without these things, the harder it is going to be to get yourself a job.
In the job market, you’re going to be competing with younger people who have four-year college degrees. In a world where everyone goes to college, your GED has already been downgraded to a certain extent, which means that you need it even more.
I also know that you’re probably thinking that you don’t deserve it. You may not know that you feel this way, but at some level, you’re wondering if you are unworthy of moving forward in this way. You might be feeling extremely guilty over not graduating high school the first time around, regardless of what your initial circumstances were or how much you needed to drop out.
Our culture is cruel to dropouts in general. It’s understandable that you’ve internalized some of what our culture has said on the subject. God knows they never shut up about it even for a moment. Naturally, they also make fun of people who go a long way in their education because of all of the debt that they accumulate. Basically, our culture is saying that you need to be rich and privileged, and if you lack that, then it is your fault all the time and every time.
Don’t listen to them. They say this because it is part of a convenient narrative that allows them to hold onto what they have. They can hold onto their position of power and justify the fact that they refuse to allow other people to get ahead in the same way. They’re trying to stop you from getting ahead.
You deserve to get your GED. It isn’t going to magically get you a job, but it is going to help you out tremendously in the cruel and unforgiving job world. You will be that much more likely to succeed for many different reasons. However, you will be surprised at just how much more confident you will become as a result of getting your GED.
Our culture tends to think of education as just something that will get you more money, like a ticket to success. The thing is, an educational attainment can do wonders for your self-esteem in a way that is difficult to replicate through any other means. You’ll feel more confident in the job market once you are armed with your GED. You will feel like you have finally picked up where you left off, like you are finally getting your life on track again. That’s worth all of the effort.
Job interviews are an art not a science, with all that this implies. You cannot deconstruct them step by step. In order to succeed at job interviews, you need to be able to keep certain principles in mind. These principles will help guide your behavior as a job interview subject.
Your potential boss wants you to be friendly, alert, confident but not arrogant, professional, curious, and enthusiastic. You need to try to model these traits as successfully as you can for the duration of the job interview. Your future boss is not going to be monitoring you every day once you actually get the job to make sure that your job interview persona was real, of course, which should take some of the pressure off of you. You simply have to embody this persona as well as you can for this comparatively brief session.
The people who are interviewing you are going to be paying attention to the little things. They will be looking at you to see how nervous you are. Your level of alertness and how awake you appear to be will all matter. While it is true that you can be undone by a lot of simple things, it also means that meeting a certain baseline level of alertness and confidence can already be enough to cause you to win over your competition.
Your interviewers will also pay attention to the moments that really cause you to stand out among the competition. If you did research about the company in question and demonstrate that you know a lot about it, you will stand out in a positive way. If you ask intelligent questions about the company at the right time, it will also help you stand out.
One of the challenges with acing a job interview today is the simple fact that a lot of the best answers to the tough questions are overused. Job interviewers are often specifically trying to shake you up when they ask you about your biggest flaws or your greatest challenges. Saying that your biggest flaw is that you work too hard and are too dedicated to work to enjoy life will probably just send the signal that you read a list of the best answers to job interview questions. There are certainly ‘good’ and ‘bad’ flaws when it comes to job interviews, but choosing some more original answers in advance can make all the difference.
One popular difficult question to ask involves trying to get people to voice criticisms or concerns that they have about the job or the company in question. This can be an opportunity to show off the research that you’ve done about the company, as well as possible solutions that you might have. This can also be an opportunity to show off what a people person you are, since you can mention the fact that you hope that this isn’t a job that is going to isolate you from your teammates.
Your interviewer ultimately wants to hire an ally and not a competitor. If you are there to pursue your individual ambitions at the expense of other people and you make that clear, it is going to harm your chances of getting the job. You need to show them how you will be an asset to the company, which is a large collection of individuals working together. Acing a job interview isn’t just about reading a list of the right and wrong things to say, which is just going to lead to you reciting a lot of stock phrases. Acing a job interview is about understanding the mindset of your interviewer and what he or she probably wants, and letting that guide you.
As a former homeless person, I am understandably very dismayed at a lot of the political rhetoric that passes for a discussion of homelessness in the United States and elsewhere. One of the first things that a conservative politician will say, which is never far from the tip of his or her tongue, is ‘why can’t the homeless people just get jobs?’
For one thing, a lot of these people fail to realize that plenty of homeless people do have jobs. In fact, plenty of homeless people sleep indoors and have cars and gym memberships. I once knew a woman who slept in her car and then drove there to work. She kept her gym membership because otherwise, she would be unable to shower, which would eventually get her fired, putting her in a worse position. She technically qualifies as homeless and lacks a permanent address, and her experience is not one that politicians are going to acknowledge.
Plenty of people, especially young people, are essentially living in the homes of their friends, going from one place to another in what is called ‘couch-surfing.’ Many of these people have jobs. Their jobs are simply so poorly paid that they could never hope to be able to afford to pay the rent on even the cheapest apartment or house, which is why they don’t. They don’t get better jobs because usually, there are no jobs to be found. In some cases, the jobs that are available demand more experience than they have or could ever hope to earn.
However, there are some homeless people who do fit the stereotype. There are homeless people clad in dirty and mismatched clothing who do not have any place to sleep indoors, and who beg for money and food and spend as much time at the shelters as they can. In answer to the question most people are going to have upon reading this, I have been every type of homeless person I have named here.
I have tried ‘couch-surfing’ even though I never called it that. It’s an unstable way of living and your unofficial hosts can kick you out at any time. I have lived in my car before, although I did not have the benefit of a gym membership and I did manage to get myself fired. They didn’t mention the exact reason they were letting me go, but it didn’t really matter at that point. I have also been a person who was literally sleeping in the streets. I know what it’s like to beg for food with a series of signs advertising your need.
There are homeless people who really have nowhere else to go. The safety net in the United States has always been meager, especially when it comes to homeless shelters. These shelters typically have odd hours and curfews, and they will vary tremendously in terms of their safety. Homeless people who have no other connections are in a difficult position.
However, there are other options out there, and there is no reason for you to feel ashamed of taking them. It is okay to ask your friends and family to help you. Most of them would rather help you out than force you to live on the streets. People are often more compassionate than you give them credit for, which I have learned through experience over and over again. Give them an opportunity to help you, and many of them will probably take it. They expect that you would do the same thing for them if necessary, which should be the case. It is not morally wrong to ask anyone for help.
It is also okay to ask people you don’t know very well for help. There are entire websites where you can find listings for people willing to take in couch surfers. These websites will come with reviews of the individual places, making it more likely that you will find a secure place to stay. You don’t need to have a profound emotional connection with someone in order to ask him or her for help. Society is built on people helping one another.
In all likelihood, the people who are hosting you will not complain if they can plainly see that you are trying to get back on your feet again. If you help them out around their own homes, if you’re looking for a job, or if you’re doing anything productive to demonstrate that you care about them and that this is just going to be a temporary situation, then they’re going to continue to sympathize with you. I can’t generalize about all of the people who may host you, but this is one of the trends that i have noticed based on my own experiences and the experiences of the people who I’ve known.
People know that they might fall on hard times, and they want to believe that the floor isn’t going to be as bad for them either. Compassionate and rational people work to make that the case. There are plenty of people like that around, and don’t listen to the voice in your head that says that you don’t deserve to find one of them.