JUST BRENDA: Help! I am jobless and feel I'm a burden to my family


I have applied for so many jobs, but none seems to be coming through. Now, I feel like a financial burden to my family.

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Hi Brenda,

I am currently not working and this is getting me frustrated. I am a single mum due to circumstances beyond me, but I have managed to take care of my children before. However, Covid happened and I lost the casual and contract jobs I was doing in the service industry. My family took me in and they ensure I lack nothing, and they even paid my remaining school fees so I could complete a college course I had been doing part-time while working. But now, I feel like a burden. And everyone is also struggling. I have applied for so many jobs, but none seems to be coming through. I’ve never been formally employed, just short-term gigs before. I am losing hope. How do I navigate this?


Dear K,

I really sympathise with your tough time. To be quite honest, nothing humbles you more than having to move back home – even though there is a pandemic, or you need all the support you can get. I'm going to ask you to do a couple of hard things. First, you have to see where you have come from. You have not always needed this help, and needing it now, especially when you have maintained your family thus far, is not a weakness. We all need help sometimes. Remember that the thing that you fear is what unites all of humanity – you might think your fear and discomfort are unique to you, but it feels like that because we aren't talking about our own shames. 

And your family sounds really great – you're incredibly lucky, which brings me to my second point. I know there's a lot to be said about toxic positivity and how woke millennials have shoved it in our faces, but seriously, in situations like this, it’s so essential to maintain an attitude of gratitude. Focus on what you do have – children, a supportive family, and the opportunity to try for more. You’re right – jobs are hard. You know that. And they know that too. Allow them to give you that grace that you need so much right now. It isn’t like you aren’t trying!

And finally, keep trying. That’s the icing on the very hard cake. You have to keep pushing for yourself, because it is something you clearly want – to be able to stand on your own two feet, which is admirable in itself. I do want you to also consider what it is in your past that makes you a bit unwilling to accept help – and you sound like the type of person who is always willing to give help. What is it in you that adds a label of embarrassment to something every human has gone through? What has made you unaccepting of life’s regular ebbs and flows, that you feel like you’re ‘better than this’ and ‘must rise above’? Think about it and let me know. I'll be waiting.

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