I got a new job, and then the world shut down.
Since my last post, which ended on a very depressing note, the holidays kept me busy. I also crashed to finish an embroidered pillow for a friend, who was about to have a baby. I burned out on sewing and needle crafts after I put in 100-plus hours of work.
In January and February, I sent more job applications and went on tons of interviews. A former coworker referred me for a position at her company, a place I had long admired, and after five interviews over the course of three weeks, I got the job!
For those in the know, I was laid off in June 2019. In all, I was unemployed for eight months. And I’ll be honest, that was one of the toughest periods of my life.
There were days I couldn’t get out of bed, shower, or eat. My anxiety was at an all-time high due to worrying about how we were going to make it. But thanks to the generosity of family and friends, our faith, and therapy, we’re much stronger for it.
It was also a time where I really dove into sewing. It was something I always wanted to get better at, so I signed up for two garment-sewing classes right before my layoff. With no job, those classes — and ultimately, sewing — became an escape for me. I felt like I was making progress with each completed project, especially in times where it felt like I was getting nowhere in my job search.
Life in quarantine
I started my new job at the beginning of March as a content marketing writer. The first two weeks were relatively normally, but when COVID-19 cases worsened stateside, everything upended.
Thankfully, my company is 100 percent remote, so we didn’t feel the effects as deeply as other industries. But still — when your routine is disrupted because of quarantine, it’s tough to cope with. I’m the type of person who finds comfort in routines, so when our apartment gym closed, I panicked because exercise is a way for me to work off anxiety.
Alas, that’s a first-world problem, and we’re doing our part to social distance and keep people safe. I sewed a few masks, but I just didn’t have it in me to take on the Herculean task to sew hundreds for front-line workers. And I’m glad for those who can and are! I just know I can’t handle that.
I feel a sense of survivor’s guilt for coming out of this layoff as friends and family face pay cuts or furloughs. My experience has allowed me to help others navigate unemployment in the last few weeks, but that’s also a weird and unsettling reality.
Though I can’t fully enjoy life like I had imagined once I got a job, I’m thankful we don’t have to worry as much about paying the bills. My husband JR lost his job in December and he’s still searching, but we get by. During unemployment, I scraped by to get patterns and tools when I could because despite our situation, I just needed something to help me cope, and that was sewing.
My current sewing practice
Now I can buy fabric and patterns with (relatively) low guilt, and though the trauma of unemployment will linger for a while, I can truly feel joy in a hobby that’s given me so much in the last year.
I work a normal schedule these days, and whenever I take a five-minute break from the computer screen, I try to cut some fabric, sew a seam, or prep a pattern. It’s a way for me to clear my mind when the words just aren’t flowing. With the shelter-in-place order, this leaves me more time to sew on the weekends as well.
I’ve started planning for what I’m going to sew these next few months, and I’m really excited to bring a little variety and joy to my wardrobe again.
But mostly, I’m just happy I have something to keep me going during the tough times.