The first trope you grow up with as a girl is that you will be rescued from your miserable life. No matter how bad things get, there will come along a Prince Charming, a handsome woodsman, your true parents – someone will turn up and take you away from the tough reality of your not so happy childhood.
Then you grow a bit, your reading and watching horizons expand, you go to school and the second trope you learn is that if you work hard, if you do all the right things, follow the rules, good things will happen to you and you will live happily ever after.
For a while that worked for me. I had set backs and I had wins. They seemed to balance each other out, but overall I believed, like Candide, that things always worked out for the best.
Then when my marriage fell apart and when during the break up my ex told me that our whole relationships was a fake, my world view was shaken. Things hadn’t been OK at all. They might have looked OK, but it was all a lie.
Yet, I still looked for the silver linings and found what good there was to find in the situation and its outcomes. I saw the independent woman I had made of myself and self-sufficient lifestyle I had and I was proud. I made the best decisions I could at the time, always hoping that things would work out for the best.
I moved to Ballarat with a healthy bank account and started my first business. Initially it went OK. I was making enough money so as not to draw too heavily on my funds and life was good. And then the business slowed down, the money dried up. I started looking for work. I got a few interviews, but no job.
I managed to get a couple of small part time gigs through my Job Network provider, but they ended when my wage subsidy did. I was barely making ends meet by this stage. The business was limping along with the odd client, not for want of trying. I put my all into it, I networked my guts out, I marketed until I was blue in the face, but somehow I just couldn’t find my groove.
My business became a very expensive hobby.
Then I got a part time job as a web developer – one day a week. That was enough to help me keep my head above water financially. Occasionally that went up to two days a week and I could even buy the odd piece of clothing or a pair of earrings.
Back in March this year, the business I was working for went into lockdown. Slowly my hours dried up, but with the Covid supplement, I was doing OK. I could comfortably pay my bills and have the occasional takeaway meal.
When I decided to move to Geelong, I was sure that getting a job in Geelong would not be that hard. After all it’s a bigger town than Ballarat and, I thought, more welcoming to newcomers. Yet, it’s now been two months and I’ve nothing to show for it. I did get one interview for a remote job here in Ballarat, but I didn’t get it.
In January my older son turns 18 and so I will lose his share of the Family Tax Benefit, which basically accounts for more than half the rent I pay on our house. His Youth Allowance won’t be enough and frankly, he has no intention of letting me have it, as he is intent on leaving home in January or February.
I’ve reached out for support to local housing services both here and in Geelong, but so far I’ve had no responses. The moving cost itself, whether I move locally or to Geelong is over $2000. The repair costs due to damage from our cats, are around $1000.
My last resort is to move back in with my parents in Dandenong and to put all our stuff in storage, which will eat up most of my JobSeeker allowance. Of course, I can sell off some of our stuff, but we’re already down to the very minimum and I don’t know if I can part with my books. Maybe I won’t have a choice.
I’ve been doing all the right things. Applying for all the jobs. I’ve had help with my resume. I’ve been working hard. And yet things aren’t working out for me. My most recent experience on my resume doesn’t match what the employers are looking for. They don’t seem interested in looking a little deeper. I am caught in an impossible situation.
I am skilled and good at what I do. I am willing to work. Yet I can’t find anyone willing to give me a chance.
So if I can’t get any form of housing support, ie: help with moving and rent, I’ll be heading back to Dandenong and living with my parents. I guess it is an option not everyone has and I should be grateful.
Right now I’m scared. Very scared. I knew this day was coming, but I assumed that if I did all the right things, things would work out my way.
So far, they haven’t. Life is no fairy tale. It’s time we stopped believing that.
Also published on Medium.